World Travel Holdings (WTH) is hopeful that providing cruises for Booking.com’s customers in the U.S. will open a window for consumers to set sail for the first time.
Booking.com is the latest in a number of similar partnerships for WTH (No. 15 on Travel Weekly’s 2023 Power List). The company fulfills cruises for several airlines and hotel brands, and it powers cruise bookings for Priceline. Like Booking.com, Priceline sits under the umbrella of Booking Holdings (No. 1 on the 2023 Power List).
The partnership holds “tremendous opportunity” for WTH, said Jennifer Gasser, senior vice president of partner brands.
“What I would like to see out of the Booking.com relationship is people who have never cruised before cruising and coming back again and again,” Gasser said. “That will just benefit everybody. That will benefit the entire industry.”
Booking.com said it added cruising because of its popularity.
“At Booking.com, we are committed to making it easier for everyone to experience the world, and with the United States being the largest market for cruises globally, it is important for us to meet and service this demand through our platform,” said Ben Harrell, Booking.com’s managing director for the U.S.
WTH provides a 24/7 call center and support team prepared to offer customer service.
“As we all know, cruise is a complex product, right?,” Gasser said. “You really need someone who provides those online and offline tools to navigate that complexity and provide the expertise so the customer gets the right cruise.”
WTH offers its partners a white-label experience. In this case, customers shopping and booking cruises will do so under the Booking.com banner.
In the partnership’s very early days, Gasser said, WTH has already seen interest in close-in cruises and sailings further out.
“We see a great opportunity to educate Booking.com customers on the value of cruise and what all the cruise lines bring individually,” she said.
Gasser said WTH has been powering cruise sales for its partners for 25 years. Cruisers’ satisfaction in their vacation tends to be high, she said, engendering loyalty to those partners.
She expects Booking.com’s customers to behave similarly and be more apt to cruise again in the future.
WTH, which also operates travel agency franchisor Dream Vacations/CruiseOne, said travel advisors should see benefits from the Booking.com relationship.
“We are big, and the bigger we get, it helps us get more opportunities from our suppliers, which will help everybody within our organization, regardless of whether they’re a franchisee or on the direct-to-consumer side,” Gasser said. “That’s how we think about it, and our agents should think like that, as well. It’s going to bring opportunities for everybody.”
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