Royal Caribbean Cruises, the world’s second largest cruise line, has launched a new website, GoBe.com, catering in direct-to-consumer tours and activities. While the site will offer activities for ports of calls for all cruise lines (not just the three Royal Caribbean owns), the focus is on the $130 billion world travel market, according to Billy Campbell, managing director for GoBe.
Campbell told [a]listdaily that the thriving business and travel tourism activities and guided tour industry, which will reach $170 billion by 2020, doesn’t have a breakout brand today.
“We’re focused on the world traveler,” Campbell said. “The cruise industry accounts for only 4 percent of the travel industry. We did a study and found that places across the globe like Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, Paris and Madrid are under-served. This space is growing 9 percent to 10 percent a year and there’s no brand awareness.”
Backed by Royal Caribbean, the Grand Cayman Islands travel company has officially launched GoBe.com and will begin rolling out a marketing campaign that connects the site’s brand with travel.
“One of the things we love is the moniker and how we can use that to target different travels through slogans like ‘GoBe adventurous,’ ‘GoBe romantic,’ GoBe a golfer,’ and ‘GoBe a mountain climber.” We can use this in a lot of ways to address people’s interests.”
Campbell said the company has procured 8,000 tours for the site and the goal is to grow exponentially. The plan is to have 16,000 tours by this summer and 30,000 by summer 2018.
The company is currently focusing on day tours in cities like Auckland, New York City and Amsterdam or things you can do while on a layover in places like Istanbul, Paris or Venice. Eventually Campbell said offerings will expand to multiple-day tours.
“In this guided tour market, 80 percent of all bookings are done offline, which creates a huge window of opportunity for GoBe,” Campbell said. “I do think we’re open to working with aggregated travel agency partners. That will be part of our model down the road.”
Campbell said GoBe has hand-selected every tour and experience on the site. With an activity searchable by nearly any traveler’s interest, the website offers easy-to-use search features that allow travelers to search by destination, interest or group requirements. The site has three primary categories of activities: high-value group tours, private excursions and exclusive, completely tailor-made “travel creations” that are found nowhere else online. Additionally, the portal searches cruise schedule itineraries, pricing, and availability for a wide variety of experiential activities, from architecture walking tours and culinary adventures to wildlife exploration and over-the-top bucket-list experiences.
Some examples of tours currently available on the site include a paddling adventure in Port Frederick, Alaska, a tour of Rome by private helicopter with a five-star lunch, a private foodies tour of Shanghai, a tour of Grand Cayman’s sparkling Crystal Caves and a “Viva Lucha Libre” tour of Mexican wrestling, food and cocktails in Guadalajara.
“We’re focusing on people who want local immersion, including people who live in New York City and haven’t seen all of the things there,” Campbell said. We can address all audience segments. We have grandparents going to Venice. We can specialize tour packages to make sure we have really good kids stuff and romantic stuff to cover all of the options.”
Campbell said millennials fit dead to rights for this site. GoBe will also be launching a mobile app to connect with this tech-savvy segment in the near future. And through the soft launch, GoBe has learned it has to adjust its offerings to meet the demands of this customer base.
“Millennials plan things out with much shorter notice,” Campbell said. “Over the next several months we’ll shorten our window for millennials. You can go on the site and get something booked for tomorrow or the next day, but I want to be able to book a tour today.”
Campbell said the company is also exploring Instagram and social media marketing. And it will work with YouTube influencers as well as travel and tourism personalities to connect the GoBe brand with the world.
GoBe does face competition in this arena. Marriott International has invested in tours metasearch platform PlacePass to better connect with its loyalty customers. Last year, Airbnb launched Airbnb Trips. And in 2014, TripAdvisor acquired online tours and activities booking agency Viator.com for $200 million.