Digital Booking Sites

TripAdvisor acquires cruise online-booking site CruiseWise

@denschaal

May 02, 2013 1:45 pm

Skift Take

TripAdvisor’s acquisition of CruiseWise is great news for TripAdvisor subsidiary Cruise Critic, which is a leading cruise news and cruise-information site, but is hampered by an outdated user interface and bulletin-like forum technology. This acqui-hire will enable TripAdvisor to finally modernize Cruise Critic, a project that’s probably been on the agenda for years.

— Dennis Schaal

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Are cruise transactions in TripAdvisor’s future?

Probably not, but TripAdvisor has acquired CruiseWise, an online cruise-booking startup that was founded in 2010.

And, TripAdvisor plans on integrating CruiseWise’s tech talent and some of its content into TripAdvisor’s CruiseCritic unit, a leading cruise news and user generated content site.

You can expect that a major overhaul of CruiseCritic’s user-interface and back-end, which uses outdated forum-related software, would be on the agenda.

TripAdvisor states that it acquired “key technology and talent from CruiseWise, Inc. the former online cruise booking agency.  The team and non-transactional functionality will be integrated into the leading online cruise guide, Cruise Critic a TripAdvisor brand.”

Labeling CruiseWise “the former online cruise booking agency” certainly sends a signal that TripAdvisor isn’t interested at this point in getting into the cruise-booking business.

This is the latest of several travel acquisitions by TripAdvisor over the last year as the public company stated in its annual report that competition may force it to “purse the acquisition of travel-related content directly from consumers.”

TripAdvisor;s acquisitions over the last year or so include Wanderlfy, Jetsetter and now CruiseWise, among others.

San Francisco-based CruiseWise, founded in 2010, had raised some seed funding from New Enterprise Associates, Index Ventures and SV Angel.

It enabled users to compare ships and cruise line, to review deck plans, and to book sailings online or over the phone.

The site has been in hiatus — shut down — over the last few months, with the headline on the homepage, “CruiseWise is Undergoing a Dry Dock!”

And there was a statement: “Thank you for visiting CruiseWise! We have temporarily taken the site down to introduce some major changes in the way we work. We apologize for any inconvenience and expect to be back shortly.”

CruiseCritic, a leading site for cruise news and user-generated content, likely could use the CruiseWise team to work on its forum and review technology, and could utilize some of its ship- and cruise-line-related content.

CruiseWise didn’t succeed as a business, but the site featured an attractive user interface using open-Web software, and its small staff showed their tech acumen.

For example, CruiseWise offered a port calculator on a Google Map that enabled users to view how many ships were located in a given port in real-time, and cruisers could also calculate how many ships would be around when they sailed to that port.

Consider this mostly an economical acqui-hire for TripAdvisor, and its Cruise Critic site will be the beneficiary.

“The cruise industry continues to grow in popularity and we are delighted to be able to further strengthen our Cruise Critic business with this move,” said Steve Kaufer, co-founder and CEO of TripAdvisor. “By integrating key elements of CruiseWise and the in-depth knowledge behind it, we will enhance our ability to help travelers find their perfect cruise at a price that suits them with seamless links to our booking partners.”

A spokesperson for Cruise Critic declined to comment on the acquisition.

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