My vision is a mix between Quora dot com and coach.me. I have a clear vision of a website/app that would make researching & booking a cruise faster, easier and the post cruise research of shore excursions, restaurants and shopping would also be more focussed. Currently, it's a very cluttered mess of travel agents, articles on various travel sites, searches for cruises and searching forums that are most likely out of date and difficult to truly locate what you are looking for. I want to bring together cruise experts (people who have taken 1 cruise or more and the people who will be taking their first cruise and put them all together to support each other in near 'real time'. That is of course if the knowledge base does not answer their question in the first place. I also have a clear goal of the advertising structure. It would be supported by Travel Agents (monthly fee), Focussed & Targeted Advertising Partners and 3rd party affiliate partnerships for services such as Shore Excursions. I have a 2 stage approach to this project. Get the main site/app running smoothly with a solid user base, then test and add a translation function so the project can expand into different markets (main focus is mandarin as the Chinese cruise market is set to grow to 4.5 million passengers by 2020 compared to the current 11 million in north america).
I want to fix the challenges associated with researching and booking a cruise and doing the same with the post booking activities such as researching shore excursions, restaurants & shopping. I would love to find someone who has travelled before, who has struggled through the process of either independent travel or on a cruise. I need someone with a technical background that is willing to put in time to build a prototype site/app that would then allow for 100 - 1000 users to user the site/app (I love how quora dot come has implemented this functionality). My focus would be to get enough users to show certain companies and get them to pre-pay for some the advertising, sign up the Travel Agents on the monthly plan along with locking down 3rd party contracts that allow the site to generate revenues on shore excursion and insurance sales. I would do this to avoid going to an angel or vc to sell off equity unless it made strategic sense to get access to mentors and advisors. I have a very clear vision for this product, and again, the interface is clean, as is the advertising, think timeline ads in FB.
I have always identified myself as a professional sales person who delivers great customer service. I will list of my relevant work experience for this project. I worked at a software development firm for 5 years in Toronto called Intelliware Development that broke out the product we were working on into a separate company called QStrat. I did not get involved in coding, but I am aware of what it takes to get a project off the ground and have been involved in full development cycles (discovered chocolate covered espresso beans as a great alternative to coffee during this time). My main background relevant to this project would be my 8 years working on cruise ships (bartender, Port Shopping Consultant/Presenter, Internet Manager, Onboard Cruise Consultant). During these years, I've been to over 70 countries, have been beyond the Arctic and Antarctic circles and I've spoken to tens of thousands about their cruising experience. I worked on 5 cruise lines during that time, so my experience is not limited to one company. In that time I kept hearing the same complaints about the research & booking process, and also the post booking process. The words "I wish I knew" were often heard around the ship. I have worked on lines with different demographics from young to some cruises where the average age was 70 years. The challenges were all the same. I have also started a coffee company in the UK which has reinforced the importance of finding a cofounder you can trust and that compliments your skill set. I have kept ties with many people who work in various parts of the industry, so I am very aware of things that are happening, specifically how technology is being used to help people plan & book a cruise.