Joyce Landry and Jo Kling started their cruise-booking company, Landry & Kling, back in 1982. They’ve been at sea ever since.
Now, they’ve taken their extensive cruise-industry knowledge and made it searchable, at Seasite.com, a Web site currently in its beta-testing phase.
But it’s not just the benefit of their knowledge that planners will find at the site: It’s every meeting-oriented cruise ship (more than 250 ships) and every itinerary, regularly updated, and available for planners to consider for meetings. The site includes a cruise-specific e-RFP as well.
“We used to know off the top of our heads where all the ships were,” laughed Kling, CEO, Seasite, at a press conference during the recent Incentive Travel & Meeting Executivesin Chicago. “Now we need a scorecard. This Web site was two years in the making. It’s a tool to bring the whole industry together.”
Seasite.com is a separate company, headed by Kling and Brad Nickel, vice president, marketing and development. The site’s founding partners in the cruise industry are: Regent SevenSeas, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines, SeaCloud, MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea, and SeaDream. “These are the ones dedicated to group business,” Kling noted. “We worked with the cruise lines to create the first e-RFP for group cruises. You will get a response back faster because all of the necessary information is there.” A single RFP is sent to up to five cruise lines for apples-to-apples quote comparisons.
The site is free to use for planners. Seasite’s revenue streams include marketing programs for cruise lines, which allow their ships, if they meet a planner’s search criteria, to go in rotation as the top search result, and also allow them to post richer content to the site such as planner’s guides to their individual ships. The guides have information that is not compiled elsewhere—not even on the cruise lines’ own Web sites—including meeting-room grids laying out exactly what meeting space is available for private use and how the rooms can be configured. Once initial search results come up, Kling noted, categories appear along the left side of the results page that allow users to refine a search by cruise line, departure day (extremely useful for planners who have to stick with a particular arrival and departure pattern for their meetings), ship size, departure port, or even ship ambience.
Seasite also will get revenue from selling advertising in its online vendor directory (including airlines and private-charter companies, destination management companies for custom shore excursions and port events, cruise- or port-themed gift companies, and more), from selling mini-sites to cruise lines for the online cruise directory, as well as from private labeling and custom services.
Potential users can visit the beta site to search for ships, send RFPs and explore the site’s exhaustive library of cruise advice, including the full “Berlitz Guide to Cruising.” (Seasite uses the Berlitz rating system for the ships in its database, a detailed system that is described at length in the Berlitz guide.)
Among the cool tools are a “cruise feasibility quiz” (Kling promises the site doesn’t always return a positive answer!), and the “cruise gems” list: Plug in the number of attendees, and the site returns rare, short-cruise itineraries.
Be sure to read the extensive FAQs, which cover details of using the site, booking, cruising, and payment. Here is Seasite’s answer to the question of whether cruisers might get better pricing on their own: “Sister company Landry & Kling is a frequent volume buyer with long-time relationships in this industry, so our negotiated pricing agreements are the lowest available. The cruise industry is excited by the potential of Seasite.com … Cruise lines want Seasite.com to be successful—their pricing will reflect that.”