Thomson is considering selling rival cruise operators on its CruiseDeals website as it looks to drive more online cruise bookings.
The retailer currently sells only Thomson Cruises and Island Cruises on the Thomson website, but Fraser Ellacott (pictured), customer operations director, revealed a possible change of strategy on its separate CruiseDeals website.
Currently the CruiseDeals website doesn’t have an online transaction facility and that all bookings were done through a call centre.
“It’s an opportunity for growth and it’s something we have started to look at,” he said.
The move comes as rival Thomas Cook trials 11 cruise-focused stores across the UK and reveals it could open more.
Ellacott said Tui is happy with its in-store cruise presence – it has CruiseDeals lounges in 55 Superstores across the country.
But he added: “There is an opportunity for more cruise online. We sell our own cruises and that’s had good, strong growth in terms of online bookings. It all comes down to getting rich content online.”
Ellacott, previously managing director of Thomson Cruises, said Thomson had seen growth in cruise-and-stay packages and he expects further growth as cruise becomes more mainstream.
He ruled out forging similar brand partnerships to Thomas Cook, which has opened 11 cruise specialist shops in partnership with Royal Caribbean International and Carnival UK brands.
“There is a real place for cruise on the high street. CruiseDeals is giving cruise a more visible distribution presence.
“Our shops aren’t just affiliated to one or two cruise lines. We want to make sure we sell the right cruise to the right customer.”
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