Cruise Inn Forging Partnership With ‘Expedia’
Cruise Inn, a newly launched national brand of RV parks and campgrounds with a member-based network of owners, announced a partnership with online travel agency Expedia Inc. in a deal the company says will significantly expand its national reach in the outdoor sector.
“We’re the first brand in the outdoor hospitality space to forge a partnership with the Expedia family of brands, and it’s going to fundamentally change the RV industry,” Cruise Inn CEO Scott Anderson told RVBUSINESS.com. “It’s going to expose the outdoor hospitality arena to a whole new set of customers who have never even considered a park model or renting an RV or a tent – or any of these types of camping experiences – as an alternative to traditional accommodations.”
Cruise Inn executives founded the company in late 2013, but with more than 125 years of combined hospitality experience, they came out of the gate saying their long-term goal was to “elevate the entire industry.” According to Anderson, the partnership with Expedia confirms the company’s commitment.
“We are very serious about our goals,” Anderson said. “This partnership is part of our strategic plan, and frankly, we aren’t done yet.”
Cruise Inn (www.cruiseinns.com) is modeling its plan after the hotel industry, specifically the member networks of Lexington and Americas Best Value Inns developed by Vantage Hospitality Group Inc. – a Cruise Inn corporate backer – which has grown to 1,100 hotels worldwide. The Cruise Inn vision is to grow into a member network of at least that size or larger.
For their part, Expedia (www.expedia.com) representatives say they are confident in their new partner’s ability to deliver on that vision.
“We think, in Cruise Inn, we’ve found a really good partner,” said Drew Bowering, director of key accounts at Expedia. “They represent the ideal business model and we’re confident that the end result will be one that’s going to benefit the customer.”
The partnership represents Expedia’s first serious public foray into the outdoor hospitality arena, and Bowering said the company’s leadership is enthusiastic about that prospect as well.
“We truly are excited about the partnership and the new relationship that we’ve set up with Scott and everyone at Cruise Inn,” he said. “We have no current product carve-out for outdoor hospitality in our shopping experience and all eyeballs are on this internally now.”
Initially founded as a division of Microsoft in 1996, Expedia was a pioneer in the online travel industry but has grown to become a global powerhouse with 150 travel booking websites in over 70 countries, 60 million unique visitors to its family of websites each month, and $4.8 billion in revenue in 2013.
“We are constantly trying to innovate and offer unique travel experiences,” said Melissa Maher, senior vice president of Global Partner Group at Expedia. “We’re thrilled that this partnership allows us to expand our offerings into the outdoor hospitality space.”
The new corporate partners believe that this move will benefit owners of Cruise Inn branded facilities, as well as all outdoor hospitality enthusiasts.
“Our owner members are extremely excited,” Anderson said. “This is another big way for us to bring them customers that they wouldn’t be able to get on their own. And from the consumer side, they previously had very limited options when it came to booking an entire camping vacation online. That’s about to change.”
Anderson said that it will likely be two weeks before Cruise Inn parks begin showing up on Expedia, and he expects more nuts and bolts details to emerge then as well.
– Submitted by freelancer Ty Adams exclusive to RVBUSINESS.com