Cruise Shoppes Acts Quickly

‘New’ consortium launches ad campaign to attract members

By: David Peterkofsky

Cruise Shoppes the cruise-focused consortium recently broke off from its financially troubled parent company Travelbyus has launched a marketing campaign designed to bring in new members and reestablish credibility.

The group, which described itself in a recent press release as “a new, cruise-focused consortium that revives a trusted name,” launched its new effort last week with ads in several travel trade publications. The ads feature the image of a ship’s life ring drifting in the ocean, with the heading “Feeling All Alone Out There?”

The ads promote the experience of Cruise Shoppes’ management team, as well as its ability to provide competitive pricing on sailings, strong commissions and overrides and member training.

Cruise Shoppes also launched a direct-mail component to its recruiting efforts, which includes a reduced annual rate of $299 for agencies that join through the end of September, down from the standard $349 per year. Each mailing includes a brochure, a list of benefits for joining Cruise Shoppes and registration forms.

The group currently counts approximately 300 agencies in its membership. The new promotional materials will reach several thousand agents, according to Cruise Shoppes.

The membership drive comes less than a month after the assets of Cruise Shoppes were foreclosed on by Travelbyus’ main creditor, Chicago-based Aberdeen Strategic Capital, and sold to a newly formed company, Cruise and Vacation Shoppes (TravelAge West, Aug. 12).

But for some, a lingering question remains about its new management. Aberdeen retains a minority stake in Cruise Shoppes, and its investors include Bill Kerby, who served as the chief executive officer of Travelbyus before it apparently ceased operations last month.

But Cruise Shoppes spokesman Jim Lida asserted that Kerby, “like the other minority investors, is not involved in the day-to-day running of Cruise Shoppes.”