Cruise Answers scoops £20,000 CWTdigital bookable website

Cruise call centre agency Cruise Answers has scooped a new transactional website worth £20,000 as part of technology firm CWTdigital’s Big 10 Competition.

The Harrow-based agency beat off competition from more than 40 applicants to scoop the prize, the third of ten being awarded by CWTdigital through Travolution sister publication Travel Weekly to mark its 10th anniversary.

It won the prize, which includes a bespoke and bookable Click2Cruise website from CWTdigital and £5,000 marketing spend from Norwegian Cruise Line, a partner in the competition, after an detailed presentation in front of judges.

CWTdigital, which also offers advice on driving traffic through pay per click, search engine optimistation and affiliate marketing, will not charge hosting fees for the first three months.

Managing director Dan Caplin and Norwegian Cruise Line’s director of sales Nick Wilkinson judged presentations from two finalists: Cruise Answers and Omega Travel.

Caplin said: “We were impressed with both applications. Cruise Answers has some innovative ideas not only on marketing but also how it will package up cruises with other products. It also has great ideas on how to drive traffic to the site through blogging and social media and differentiate its product online.”

Wilkinson said online bookability would be key to cruise agents achieving growth in the sector. “In the last 18 months we’ve seen the market change and online traffic grow at such a rate. Some smaller agents have been left behind because their websites are static.”

Cruise Answers is now targeting a substantial increase in sales. Cruise manager James Pettitt said the agency had already decided to invest further in the technology after winning the prize to drive even more online traffic.

The prize will enable Cruise Answers to turn its existing website into a bookable site, with live prices for all major cruise lines.

The site will include new features such as online forums and blogs and offer bespoke cruise and stay packages, which the agency will put together itself using its own flight and accommodation suppliers. The first phase of its revamp should be complete by October.

Pettitt said: “In the last three months we have started to see a real desire for a bookable site. We are looking for a substantial increase in conversions as a result of this.”

Meanwhile, CWTdigital has offered to put together a marketing strategy for runner-up Omega Travel, while Norwegian Cruise Line will provide £1,000 worth of marketing spend.

Omega Travel hopes to expand its cruise offering to the Chinese market in the UK, but sees potential for expansion in China itself. Business development manager Daniel Xia said: “We have not started promotions in China but we’ve had bookings from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the US. We sell a lot of coach tours in Europe and could easily shift these to cruises.”

The first two winners of CWT’s Big 10 Competition were travel agencies Escape Worldwide and Nile Cruises, a Go Cruise franchise. They won a company rebrand and a search engine optimisation website audit respectively.

CWTdigital is now assessing all the entries for its fourth prize, entries for which are now closed.

The prize is a free email marketing campaign, including a consultation with CWT’s email marketing specialist. The campaign will be sent out using ClickMail technology.

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