Active specialist BSpoke Tours has started selling expedition cruises as part of its recently formed travel agent division.
The operator will offer a total of 20 expedition cruises in Antarctica, the Arctic and the Galapagos, from partner cruise lines Quark, Silversea and Exodus. It is set to add Hurtigruten itineraries to the list in November.
BSpoke – which started as a cycling specialist alongside Cycling for Softies under parent company Ski Solutions – launched its travel agent section in May, when it began selling tour operator product from Explore, Exodus, Spice Roads and Camino Ways, as well as activity resorts from Club Med and Mark Warner.
Since then 15-20% of bookings have come for third-party suppliers, according to Ben Roseveare, activities director, who said it was hoping to boost that traction further with the new cruise partnerships.
“Expedition cruising is trending – we think there’s real opportunity there, and we’ve seen from our combined group databases that there’s a market for people who love mountains, skiing, adventure and activity.
“We already offer bike and boat options in Europe, as well as self-guided and guided walking and cycling holidays, and we believe this is a natural extension.
“We’re not going to talk to everybody – we’re a travel agent, but not a travel agent of everything. We want that reputation for being a curated collection, and for offering the very best in terms of product range. I think Quark are the best at what they do, Silversea is absolutely gorgeous while having a real expedition spirit, and Exodus gives a really fun, immersive experience.”
Roseveare said Ski Solutions had worked well as 50% tour operator and 50% travel agent, and that BSpoke could potentially follow this model.
“I know there are good travel agents out there selling 200-300 of these type of products – I’ve worked with them in a different life, and that’s the dream of what we want to become. How quickly we get there we will see.”
The operator rebranded a year ago, and has since more than doubled its number of self-guided cycling and walking tours.
Last month it joined forces with Wilderness Scotland and Wilderness Ireland under the newly formed Active Travel Group. It now sits with Cycling for Softies alongside – rather than under – Ski Solutions, and though most of its third-party products will be direct sell, a few specialist agents are also able to book them.
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