Leading UK cruise website Cruise.co.uk claims to have eradicated the need to spend money on Google advertising entirely while still hitting 10 million visits annually.
Speaking at an Institute of Travel and Tourism event in London, Cruise.co.uk chairman Andrew Gardner said the site used to spend £2 million with Google and now it spends “nothing at all”. It also used to do 80 million national newspaper inserts and now does none.
However, Gardner admitted that despite achieving consistently high traffic the site’s conversions were not as high as he would like.
The phenomenal success of Cruise.co.uk stems from the way it has been able to capture the UK cruise community. Passenger Shipping Association figures claims there are 1.5 million UK cruisers.
Gardner described it as ‘the TripAdvisor of cruise’, allowing customers to watch videos, ask questions and research their cruise before booking.
Last year the business had 10 million visits to the two sites it operates – it also owns Cruises.co.uk – and carried 50,000 customers.
“We are probably the portal for the cruise industry. Most people use us for reference to research and we hope that gradually people will get used to us and use our search engines more.
“Our conversions are not as high as we would like. We are fine for now but we hope it will go up.”
Gardner said that Cruise.co.uk, is ‘talking’ to customers now more than ever, either over the phone, via email or on social media.
Explaining how the distribution channels have changed over the years he said: “There is no Teletext, no radio, no TV, and newspaper sales are falling dramatically.
“The market seems to be falling away, it seems to be coming down to the web, which is where we are.
“For us it’s all about service. We probably talk to our customers more now than ever. If you just have a bookable website and no interaction then you do not become a friendly business. That’s what we put our success down to; being friendly and giving good service.”
Cruise.co.uk says its visitors spend an average of six minutes on the site per visit meaning it had 120,000 hours of engagement with customers last year.