It seems that vacation travel is still a high priority for many North Americans, as Expedia CruiseShipCenters has just reported 72 percent growth for the month of October. Total cruise sales have risen 8 percent year over year and new bookings for 2010 are already up 23 percent. Expedia CSC reports it has also added nine new locations this year, including Fort Lauderdale, set to open this winter. A record 700 Cruise Consultants have also joined CSC in 2009, taking the total number of agents to over 2,500.
CSC attributes its success to its expertise and focus on cruise vacations. “Since 1987, we have held to our vision to be the #1 Cruise Vacation Specialist In The World,” says Michael Drever, Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ CEO and founder. “There are so many options with a cruise vacation that our customers, especially first-time cruisers, want to speak to a specialist even after they’ve done some research online."
Drever remains bullish on the future of travel agencies. “We have always believed our Brick and Click strategy would be the most successful model in the long-term because it is very customer-centric,” he says. “We are intently focused on building customer relationships and delivering personal service through our 112 retail locations, 2500 independent contractors and the websites we provide them.”
CSC said it’s continued focus on cruises has also provided insulation from the impact of lost revenues from direct bookings of commodity travel products such as air, hotel and car rentals. “Our whole customer service focus is to match the right customer to the right cruise,” says Geraldine Ree, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “For the past 20 years the industry has grown at nearly 8 percent per year. All of the research shows that the next twenty will be equally strong because the capacity still hasn’t caught up to the overall demand.”