Wall was appointed co-president and chief operating officer of WorldCruise.cn. He was tapped by the leadership team from one of China’s top-producing travel agencies and founders of the new company.
'There are currently more than three million travel agents in China, but only a few hundred sell cruise product,' Wall said. He cited China's evp of tourism as noting that of the more than 100m Chinese who travel abroad each year for tourism, only 0.6% cruised in 2013.
'China is ahead in so many ways, but I’ve been astounded to learn how much opportunity exists for education and growth within the Chinese cruise sector,' Wall said. 'When you look at the size of the market and the fact that we’ve barely scratched the surface, you realize how exciting of a time this truly is for the cruise industry.'
WorldCruise.cn is a bilingual website that caters to Chinese-speaking agents and consumers globally. Currently in beta testing, the site is planned to officially launch in the second quarter of 2015.
WorldCruise.cn provides data and information from more than 60 cruise lines, real-time booking capabilities and extensive opportunities to learn about cruising. Chinese travelers can search and book cruises, plan and book shore excursions, take advantage of chartered cruises and book air/cruise/land travel packages. The company promised an easy-to-use search engine, extensive research and answers to frequently asked questions, diverse excursion options, ship reviews, destination backgrounders and limited-time special offers.
Chinese travel agents will be given a user name and log-in to access WorldCruise.cn where they can search live cruise and shore excursion inventory with real-time pricing and availability, booking their clients immediately. Agents can also create their own customized cruise packages and land tours, opening booking to other agents and consumers directly.
The site's technology platform is designed to let Chinese agents load partial or full-ship charters, opening their group space to other agents and travelers. The company said the system 'vastly increases overall earning potential' by allowing agents to book their clients into space blocked and posted by others.
WorldCruise.cn will provide online training programs and business development strategies to help Chinese agents. Offline training will feature sessions by senior managers from leading cruise lines, and service will be provided on the back end.
'While online cruise booking and online travel agencies have existed for some time in the United States, Chinese-speaking travelers have never seen anything like this,' according to Wall. 'The best part is that WorldCruise.cn takes what we are doing well in the United States and layers on innovative, proprietary technology to advance the capabilities even further. This is the wave of the future for not only the Chinese cruise industry, but the cruise industry as a whole.
The site is also designed to be mobile, with an iPad-friendly version and smartphone app. These platforms can be used for research and education, and real-time pricing, availability and booking.
WorldCruise.cn was created by international travel industry veterans Steven Donne, ceo and chairman; Jessica Lee, co-president, sales, marketing and operations; and Evgeny Demchenko, chief technology officer.
Wall recently left CLIA after joining the association in January in a newly created role as svp agency and trade relations. Before that, he was svp and gm of World Travel Holdings' home-based division, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.