CruiseLabs – PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit Runner-up

CruiseLabsTwitter Synopsis: Multi-GDS/XML capable cruise booking engine with interactive deck maps, proprietary videos and travel agent chat within shopping application

Cruiselabs Logo

Cruiselabs – PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit, Emerging Company Runner-up

Just the Facts:
Company Name: CruiseLabs
Location: Plano, TX
Judging Category: Emerging Company
Business Segment: Cruise Booking Engine
Product Name: NexWav
Demonstrated by: David Tossell, CEO

Company Description (from website)

Plano, TX based CruiseLabs is a travel technology company that provides cutting edge cruise booking solutions.

Our leadership team has a combined 35 years of technology development experience delivering custom solutions to the worlds most respected travel companies.

NexWav provides a cutting edge user experience with industry leading back-office capabilities.

No GDS or supplier provided platform can match it for usability, stunning content, merchandising or branding. It’s everything you need, all in one application.

Challenge Solved:
Improving conversion for online cruise bookings
Shopping & Booking Cruises online is too difficult

Point of Differentiation:
Any-Any-Any paradigm for cruise search

  • Any Region
  • Any Cruiseline
  • Any Timeframe

Key Innovation:
By integrating the cruise research and shopping processes, CruiseLabs hopes to provide a more customer friendly platform that will improve conversion.

Overall Impression
The cruise industry is ripe for online automation, with the vast majority of bookings taking place offline.

Cruises offer an attractive transaction model due to a comparatively high ticket price and multiple passengers traveling together, plus opportunity to sell ancillary products and services. The principal obstacles are that cruise lines are highly siloed and some lines suffer from antiquated cruise line technology.

One particularly impressive aspect of CriuiseLabs is its apparent sincerity in getting its product right – they are launching a 30 website beta with the intention of launching with 60 sites in 2nd quarter 2011.

CruiseLabs is planning on enhancing port information in future.

Technological Innovation:
While I could argue that the underlying technologies are not exceptionally innovative, their application to the cruise industry is.

I like that they can return eight screens of cruise search responses – quickly – with a single query.

To reach the broadest possible audience, Cruise Labs provides Consumer, Travel Agency and Software as a Service platforms in addition to a skinable user interface. In the future, they plan to offer an Open API for travel agency back office accounting

Business Model Sustainability:
If CruiseLabs is successful in transitioning cruise buyers to the web, the market will be large, with the potential to gain a first mover advantage. With system flexibility to support API, website or white label implementations, they appear to ready to move any direction the market requires.

Additionally, as the company has recognized that a six-fold increase in conversion is possible by including chat, the upside to improve conversion while lowering costs appears to be palpable.

Marketplace Impact:
The Cruise Line industry of America forecasts a total of 14.3 million passengers in 2010, 10.7 million from North America and 3.6 million sourced internationally.

Distribution costs for cruise lines are very high, so shifting share to a lower cost online booking channel would be welcomed by the Cruise Lines.

Official Result: PhoCusWright Emerging Company Runner-up

Community Comments: CruiseLabs What The Hashtag Twitter Archive

The 2010 Travel Innovation Summit is part of the PhoCusWright Conference – Held November 16-18, 2010 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona USA

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.