Agent launches cruise auction Internet site

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A travel agent here unveiled an Internet cruise auction site and is offering listings on the site to other Cruise Lines International Association-affiliated agents.

Charles Dubinsky, owner of Rainbow Travel, a $1 million per year agency and a member of the Cruise Shoppes of America consortium, said the site, www.allcruiseauction.com, was launched in late 1999 as "an alternative to purchasing cruises through traditional channels."

Agencies pay $1 to post cruises for auction on the site, and turn over one point of their commission on sold cruises.

None of the site's inventory of cruises are posted directly by cruise operators, said Dubinsky, although he's had "conversations" with several lines.

He said most of the cruises listed for auction on www.allcruiseauction.com come from travel agencies' excess group inventory, with others supplied by Rainbow Travel, and the site is only concerned with auctioning cruises. "We're only selling cruises; no time shares or travel certificates," said Dubinsky.

The auction site can help cruise sellers stimulate group bookings, make additional profits and help mainstream travel sellers break into cruise retailing, said Dubinsky. "This could lead [consumers] to call agencies directly, after making a cruise booking, for other forms of travel. Also, you have a customer for your database now."

Dubinsky said he originally created the site exclusively to promote Rainbow's cruise inventory, but later opted to open the site to agencies affiliated with CLIA. "It's a steal compared to other auction sites," he said.

Dubinsky said that while offering profits for agents, www.allcruiseauction.com also represents a value for consumers. "It's all based on marketing fundamentals," he said. "Whenever you spend money on getting clients, it goes back into the price of the product. If you can lower the price of getting the client, you can charge less. Agencies spend a lot of money to attract clients and this could help."

Dubinsky said he is adding an area to the site through which consumers can list cruises they want and agencies can respond by offering rates to match the query.

A recent check of the site found Alaska, Caribbean and Europe cruises from Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.

Dubinsky said cruises from Costa Cruises, Crown Cruise Line, Regal Cruises and Royal Caribbean International also have appeared on the site.

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