Do you know what your clients do when they go on a cruise? Sure, they gamble, eat, watch shows, and eat some more; but what about when the ships dock and they plant their feet on dry land for a day or two? How would you like to earn an additional $20, $50, $100 or more on every cruise you sell? It’s very easy and ShoreTrips, an eight year old company has been helping travel professionals do just that. ShoreTrips specializes in destination activities, tours, and excursions for your clients.
For those who have not discovered this gem of a supplier, Barry and Julie Karp founded ShoreTrips in 2002 after many years owning an agency. Having a supplier born from the agency mold is unique and a decided advantage for consumers and agents alike.
They know what products agents need to be successful and they also know that they need to be compensated fairly. Julie, ShoreTrips president ended a career in interior design when she decided to make her hobby (travel) her profession and joined Barry in his Milwaukee, WI. agency. The idea for ShoreTrips came from a cruise client, who’s small group wanted shore excursions that were smaller and better than the cruise line was offering. The Karps handled it and an idea for ShoreTrips was born. Their agency was sold to Carlson Wagonlit in 2001 and the Karps spent the next year in the Caribbean building their connections and reputation with the ground operators. Last year, they provided experiences for over 200,000 people.
The mission of ShoreTrips is simple— to enhance your client’s experience. That’s it! They can arrive by ship or by plane, it does not matter. They have traveled to every spot they represent to bring you the best and the most unique offerings to assuage the demands of the most discerning (or demanding) client. The tours they represent are smaller and more personal, yet still maintain the desire to exceed the expectations of your clients. Currently ShoreTrips works with over 2000 individual tour operators across the globe to bring the clients of 9000 agencies over 3000 well designed adventures.
ShoreTrips is the only excursion company that was created by travel agents, so they know what the agencies need. Their referral system allows an agent to register their clients, allows the clients to contact ShoreTrips and still maintain the sale and commission for the agency. A huge feature is the ability to handle groups. With group travel on the increase, an agency would be wise to capitalize on this program where you can make fliers, obtain manifests, and allow individual group members book their own excursions directly with ShoreTrips with credit to you!
If a mass market cruise line sails to a port, chances are ShoreTrips has something to offer your clients. They are always looking to expand and when they see a cruise market equal to 1.5% of North American cruisers, they pounce. Currently they are looking to expand in Asia.
Selecting local operators can be a crap shoot for anyone. Karp feels his program is very thorough with plenty of checks and balances. The vetting process takes at least six months and initially involves a lot of research and interviews with everyone but the operator. Selected operators are contacted. Depending on their level of response, interest, and passion, they are ranked. ShoreTrips will then go visit for a face to face meeting and to experience their trips. Barry points out that they pay for these trips so there are no hard feelings if an operator is not selected. Finally, their experiences are reviewed back at home and selections are made. They monitor client satisfaction very carefully and are quick to initiate corrective action (or termination if needed) when an operator drops the ball.
Like all businesses, the past few years have been challenging, but ShoreTrips has weathered the storm. According to Karp, ” When the stock market crashed in 2008, we started an advertising campaign targeted to agents telling them that they could make up for lost cruise revenue by offering ShoreTrips to the customers who didn’t cancel. Agents soon began to realize how much money can be made by selling our products. Agents can make 20% more on the Caribbean bookings… 30% more on Alaska… and 40% more on Europe bookings. By delivering a good product, being consistent, and paying out the commissions quickly, we’ve really made ShoreTrips into a good size successful business.”
Here are some interesting facts about ShoreTrips and the Karps:
- Never use buses unless for an agency’s group. Always private cars or vans.
- Barry’ s favorite excursion is the Bob Marley birthplace in Nine Mile, Jamaica.
- Julie’s favorite is anything along the French Riviera
- Customer favorites include Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman, Belize Cave Tubing, helicopter Dog-Sled tour in Juneau, and the St. Petersburg, Russia trips–small, private, deluxe, lower priced than the ship’s, and Visa free. No hassles!
- An early interest in automation ultimately helped with ShoreTrips with automation allowing them to keep mark-ups very low and very competitive with the cruise lines.
All trips are commissionable and once a client registers with ShoreTrips, they are attached to the agency for future sales (unless the client specifically makes the change).
It is really a no-brainer in the current marketplace to sell ShoreTrips to your every cruise client. ShoreTrips offers a very viable and profitable way to recover short or lost income from reduced pricing, rising NCFs, or lowered commissions. Give them a call (1-888-355-0220 or 414-964-2100) to register your agency with ShoreTrips. When you do, they’ll give you a quick tour of their website and show you how easy it is to use them.
Editors Note: I have personally used ShoreTrips for both cruise and land clients and had stellar reports. The few times I have had questions or needed some help, their support was quick to pick up the phone and walk me through the issue! If I were Les-Lee, they would get a definite “thumbs up!”