JetBlue, Dwain Wall’s OTA Partner on Cruise Bookings

JetBlue

JetBlue is expanding into cruise travel. Dwain Wall’s online travel agency, Cruising Store, has partnered with the airline on an artificial intelligence-powered cruise booking platform that company officials tell Travel Agent will put customers directly in touch with cruise lines.

JetBlue and Cruising Store report that the new partnership will launch a cruise booking platform this month powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to learn customers’ cruise preferences and put them in touch with a cruise line that matches up. “Through JetBlue’s new cruise booking and planning platform, customers are able to bypass the often-confusing process of finding the right cruise and the traditional model of contacting a travel agent to book,” the two companies wrote in a statement announcing the new partnership.

The new platform will use AI to identify cruise vacations that meet a customer’s budget, destination preferences, and other activities. Company representatives Travel Agent spoke with say that the platform will put customers directly in touch with cruise lines to book.

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Wall is the co-founder and CEO of Cruising Store. He had been the SVP and general manager of World Travel Holdings (WTH) brands CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. until November 2013, when he left to become SVP of agency and trade relations at Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). He held that post until January 2015, and spent some time in executive roles at a boutique leisure travel consulting company and a China-based online cruise vacation company before starting Cruising Store in October 2015. John Henderson serves as Cruising Store’s chief technology officer, while Tom Grasse is the company’s chief marketing officer and Jill LaBarre is EVP of agency operations.

The new platform seems to be a contrasting approach to other recent forays into AI-powered bookings. At the most recent Cruise Planners convention in October, the travel agency announced a new partnership with Amazon’s Alexa AI to launch two new “Alexa skills” on the platform. One of the skills connects customers with a Cruise Planners travel agent through the Echo Dot smart speaker and other Alexa-powered devices. The agent is then in charge of managing the customer's booking. The other skill, which is exclusively for agents, acts as a “virtual assistant” to help the travel agent manage their business using AI. You can read an in-depth look at how the new Alexa partnership works here.

Looking ahead, JetBlue said that the new partnership with CruisingStore is the latest in its bid to offer more personalized trip experiences. “JetBlue seeks to create a one-stop vacation shop and seamless travel journey,” the airline wrote in its announcement.

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