Society Expeditions, the one-ship adventure line based in Seattle,
is actively working to reestablish and solidify its relationship
with travel agents.
“We began operating our new ship in mid-April, so the dust has
somewhat settled,” said Society President Michael Lomax. “It was a
reinvention, or at least a relaunch, of Society Expeditions.”
Society existed for two years without a ship after its World
Discoverer ran aground in the Solomon Islands. The company planned
to repair the vessel, but it was pillaged and damaged during civil
unrest. The ship remains aground.
Society then acquired a vessel it describes as “a luxury
expedition ship.” Also named World Discoverer, it underwent a
renovation before embarking on a program of exotic cruises for
“Our occupancy rates are gradually increasing,” Lomax said.
“It’s a 160-passenger vessel and the average passenger load is 150.
Although the ship would carry many more, we carry a large number of
Still, “It’s a relatively slow process from a business
perspective to relaunch a company,” Lomax said. “We’re getting our
name back into the marketplace and making sure our reputation that
existed for decades is still intact.”
Society has always specialized in Antarctic sailings and has
seven cruises scheduled for the upcoming winter, when it’s summer
“We have seven sailings in Antarctica from November to the end
of February, and all but two sailings are sold out, which is quite
good,” Lomax said. “South Pacific sailings are generally popular
and selling very well.”
To rebuild travel agent relationships that may have fallen
dormant over the past two years, Society is building its sales
staff and increasing commissions and bonuses.
“We’ve been setting up cooperative marketing programs with
agencies and tour operators, producing specific brochures by
destination for travel agents,” Lomax said. “And we’ve expanded our
sales department to serve as a greater resource for travel
The small company now has six inside salespeople and three on
the marketing staff.
Commissions as high as 25% are paid, depending on production and
various bonuses offered.
“Considering the extent of our programs, the length of the
cruises and the price points, those are substantial earnings for
travel agents,” Lomax said. He said about 90% of the company’s
sales are made by travel agents, either individually or through
tour operator packages.
This fall and next spring the World Discoverer will operate six
itineraries in the South Pacific, all detailed in the 2002-2003
Oceania brochure that was recently mailed to agents.
The South Pacific cruises are 10 to 25 days long. Fares for this
fall’s voyages start at $3,255 per person, double, including shore
excursions, gratuities, port charges, wine and beverages, pre- and
post-cruise hotel stays and transfers.
In 2003, the company will operate six 18- to 20-night programs
in the Russian Far East and remote Alaska. Fares start at $7,265
per person, double.
Web site: www.societyexpeditions.com.