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ExpeditionTrips in the News

For questions, please contact Ashton Palmer at ashton@expeditiontrips.com or 206 547-0700

Selling the Small-Ship Experience
The Intrepid Traveler

by Kelly Monaghan

I'm a big fan of small ships. They can range from the luxurious to the funky but what they all have in common is an experience that's out of the ordinary, especially if your idea of cruising is the "traditional" grand ships and the newer mega-liners. So my antennae perked up when I heard about ExpeditionTrips.com

ExpeditionTrips.com looks like another consumer-oriented site selling travel and, in fact, it does sell directly to the public. But the company also functions as a sort of ad hoc consortium or wholesaler for the small ship industry, allowing travel agents the convenience of one-stop shopping and the added benefit of help in closing the sale.

"Our ideal travel agency is a small home-based agency," says Kristy Royce, ExpeditionTrips Vice President. "We offer them the depth of knowledge and experience that they might not have and help in closing the sale." As an example, Kristy recounted a story about a travel agent who got a call from a client wanting to take a solo trip to the Antarctic, a destination the agent knew nothing about. In a matter of minutes, ExpeditionTrips was able to locate the perfect departure and itinerary and a single cabin to boot. The result was a quick $15,000 sale for the agent.

ExpeditionTrips commissions start at 10% and increase with annual sales volume. At $50,000 the commission goes to 11%, to 12% at $100,000 and 13% at $200,000. Best of all, the higher commissions are retroactive to the first dollar. And since many small ships cruises (especially those to Antarctica) carry a premium price, a small ship specialist could realistically reach at least the first plateau.

And speaking of specialization (which regular readers know by now is one of my mantras), ExpeditionTrips offers at least several niches in one. Most obviously is the small ship niche, which has a small, but growing and rather fanatical following. But ExpeditionTrips also highlights Family Travel and diving expeditions, two of the more popular specialties among home-based agents.

Although ExpeditionTrips courts home-based agents, it exercises some quality control. Their registration form asks an open-ended question about professional affiliation, but Kristy tells me they will accept membership in a home-based travel agent association such as OSSN. I see this as yet another healthy sign of the increasing acceptance the home-based entrepreneur is receiving from the travel industry. It also underscores the benefits of joining an association. You can download a discounted application to OSSN at


Of course, you can always deal with the individual suppliers through your host agency, although you might not be able to match the commission. You might also be able to deal directly with some of the suppliers, but pooling your small ship bookings with ExpeditionTrips offers the exciting possibility of pretty decent overrides.