Broadcast: CruiseWise aims to bring wisdom and simplicity to the online cruise booking process. Over 14 million people each year choose cruising as their preferred way to travel, contributing more than $30 billion to the booming cruise industry.
Startups.fm in conversation with Steve Davis, COO and CoFounder of CruiseWise
What is your idea and vision?
More than 90% of cruises are still booked in person or on the phone through traditional travel agents because the technology available simply can’t compete. Our goal is to bring cruise booking off the phone and onto the web.
CruiseWise solves this problem by providing users with a thoroughly-researched cruise exploration and booking engine so they can make informed decisions about how they want to vacation. Explore destinations, compare prices and routes across multiple cruise lines, visually select a cabin on the ship, and book entirely online using a streamlined checkout process. We’re also committed to always innovating—whether that means introducing pricing transparency to our users or building cutting edge comparison tools that aren’t available anywhere else.
What is your start-up story? Where did you get funding from?
CruiseWise was founded in May of 2010 by Amit Aharoni, Nicolas Meunier, and Steve Davis. The founders served as the pilot team for the StartUp Chile program, and began product development in fall of 2010. They returned to San Francisco in early 2011 and raised a seed round of funding from Index Ventures, NEA, PROfounders, SV Angels, and a collection of angels in the travel and consumer tech industries.
Which is your target market? What is your revenue earning plan?
CruiseWise is focused on providing both seasoned cruisers and those new to cruising with a the best exploration and booking site. Unlike travel comparison sites like Kayak and Hipmunk, our visitors can book a cruise on any cruise line directly through our website. CruiseWise makes a commission on the sales of cruises. Because we sell many cruises online, it costs us less to sell cruises than a walk-in or phone-in travel agency. That, in turn, allows us to give better deals to our customers. Our user feedback has been extremely positive so far, and much of our traffic has come from word-of-mouth.
How do you define the importance of your team in CruiseWise?
Our team includes incredibly talented developers, designers, writers, and business pros. CruiseWise CEO Amit Aharoni and CTO Nicolas Meunier (both co-founders) lead the development team and work with our designer to bring the CruiseWise product to life online. Co-founder and COO Steve Davis runs the operations, marketing, and content development side of things, as well as overseeing customer support and our in-house travel agents.
What would you like to share from your startup briefcase?
Everything takes longer and goes faster than we expected. It can take months to get a business deal in place, but once it’s there, a tidal wave of customers can appear overnight.
How do you enjoy at work?
We’re very lucky to have a great office space located right in the heart of downtown San Francisco, and our team often enjoys lunches, dinners, and the occasional excursion into the city together. Recently, one of our co-founders got married on a Carnival cruise to the Bahamas, and five us traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for four days of fun together on the ship. Read about our New Year’s cruise on the CruiseWise blog and check out some great pictures from the trip.
Any new releases from CruiseWise?
CruiseWise is currently developing a series of mobile and tablet apps that works in concert with our website. Our first release will provide cruisers with a personalized travel guide they can use both online and offline during their vacation.
How do you feel your start-up is adding value to the eco-system?
CruiseWise is making an enormous technological leap forward in the cruising industry. We’re also one of many startups who are trying to use modern web technology to simplify the display of complicated sets of information. The primary obstacle to people booking cruises online today is the poor structuring of available information. Most online travel agencies bury information in plain text (like which ports a cruise stops at), or fail to display it at all (like how many other tourists will be in a given port). By surfacing this data in a useful way, and only when a customer needs it, we believe we can provide more information in a simpler format than ever before.
In short, we believe that we’re providing a superior product for cruisers and advancing the grammar of information access along the way.
Latest posts by yoda (see all)
- Meet DOT from Iota Labs- A customisable push notification app for your daily life - September 9, 2016
- Apps live with Vamp.io, an open source and self-hosted platform for (micro)services architectures - August 9, 2016
- 8 Hottest Startups of Europe making rounds - February 5, 2016