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12/01/2009

Cruise-Only Travel Agency

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  Cruise-Only Travel Agency business.

  Business Overview

  The cruise industry, with sales of $8 billion per year, estimates that only 7 percent of Americans have ever cruised. Which leaves a grand 93 percent who are expected to cruise soon. In anticipation, the industry is gearing up for an immediate 55 percent increase in ships and passenger capacity.    If you love the siren song of the sea and the romance of cruising, then a cruise-only travel agency might be just the business for you. You'll work with clients to choose the ideal cruise for them, then book passage and sit back to wait for those postcards from sunny shores.    The advantages to this business are that you can work at home, startup costs are relatively low, you get to sample lots of cruises so you'll know what to recommend, and you deal with happy, excited people.    You'll need a comprehensive knowledge of cruise lines and the different packages available plus the people skills to work with a variety of clients and the organizational skills to prepare bookings.

  The Market

  Your customers will be just about anybody who can afford a cruise -- and that's more people now than ever before since many cruises are tailored to slimmer pocketbooks. You can target both individuals and corporations -- which can provide you with lots of bookings for meetings, conferences or employee perks.    Send your brochure to large companies and people on mailing lists who have already purchased cruises. Place ads in local publications and in your local Yellow Pages. Get your company written up in these same publications. Donate a pair of cruise tickets to the lucky winner of a charity auction in exchange for free advertising.
  And don't forget to network at local professional and civic organizations.

  Needed Equipment

  All you really need to get started is a computer system, a fax machine, a phone, and an electronic data terminal for processing credit card payments, which you can get online from a number of merchant account services (otherwise known as banks). Go to your favorite search engine and key in 'credit card processing' -- or check with your local bank, which may offer this service.
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