Venture Ashore COO Rinat Glinert explains to Cruise Trade News how the new brand will work with UK travel agents and grow its global partnerships.
Earlier this month (February), it was revealed that Cruising Excursions had rebranded as Venture Ashore, as part of the City Experiences portfolio of brands.
Venture Ashore will operate a UK division with a team based at the former Cruising Excursions HQ in Cannock, Staffordshire, headed up by Simonne Fairbanks and including head of trade sales Kirsty Bachelor and business development manager Liz Ryan.
New COO Rinat Glinert is now tasked with directing the brand, growing awareness and building relationships, as she explains here.
How will Venture Ashore work with travel agents in the UK?
Travel agents are very strong partners with Venture Ashore. We’ve got a really great reception from the UK trade that we’ve been talking to, giving them a sneak peek of what they can expect with Venture Ashore.
We are going to be continuing all of those relationships and building on them further. Venture Ashore is launching an internally built and managed operating system and ticketing system, called Anchor.
We will have our own B2B agent portal to give our agent partners the tools that they need to be able to connect with their clients to be able to effectively market to them.
It’s something where they can easily find what they’re looking for and that’s something which traditionally hasn’t always been available – we’re getting quite positive feedback from trade about that.
What’s unique about Venture Ashore?
We have a significant differentiator compared to others – the Essential Collection. This is a group of tours that are, at the moment, in the Mediterranean, Asia and a little bit in the Caribbean, which have been designed, created and managed by the Cruising Excursions team.
We will be looking to build it out in regions like the Mediterranean, where we already have a central collection of tours, and to expand with small group walking tours and immersive culinary experiences.
The schedule is very relaxed and well thought through. I think that brings a lot of value to people when they know that they’re going to see what they want to see in their limited time ashore.
Guests are going to be able to connect with guides who we have worked with for more than 10 years; they’re going to have that personal connection, both with the guides and also with their fellow travellers. So, guests aren’t sitting on a bus with 75 other people; they are going to be there in small groups.
Are your shore excursions commissionable?
We have contracted rates with all of our host agencies, so while the commission level may vary slightly, it is always very competitive.
When you look at cruise line excursions, they don’t offer any type of commission, whereas we offer a very competitive rate, which is a standard and then we offer additional incentives for travel agents who hit certain thresholds.
How will you provide a unique guest experience?
We have shared group tours, which are typically an average size of 25-30 people, and we have our small group tours which can be as small as six, but typically average 12-15.
We can also offer private tours in many destinations, whether that’s for a party of two or for a family reunion of 50 people – we take care of all the logistics.
Our customer service is 24/7 and we make sure that our guides are aware in advance of all guest details. This level of customisation is something that is unique to Venture Ashore.