MILWAUKEE -- Say you have two clients who do not want to shop,
swim, snorkel, sun or sightsee during a cruise stopover in St.
Thomas. Nor do they want to remain on board while the ship is in
port for eight hours. She wants to meet some local artists; he
wants to take a flying lesson.
Enter ShoreTrips to the rescue, an industry newcomer with a
pedigree. Not only does this
brick-and-mortar-agency-turned-e-commerce business know the
Caribbean inside and out, but it also pays commissions on prebooked
land excursions, offers a travel agent portal on its Web site and
has no minimum group size.
And to boot, ShoreTrips really knows its excursions, its vendors
and its market.
Barry Karp, ShoreTrips' founder, is the former owner of
35-year-old Karp's Travel Service in Cincinnati, which specialized
in Caribbean cruises. The agency was sold to Carlson last
During the years Karp ran the agency, he and partner Julie Ansfield
set up numerous special-interest and small-group tours for their
clients. In the process, they compiled and built a large network of
local tour operators throughout the Caribbean.
That network is the heart of ShoreTrips' database, which lists
1,022 excursions on 26 islands, plus Key West and Miami, Fla.; New
Orleans; New York; and the Mexican resort areas of Cancun, Cozumel
and Puerto Vallarta.
Coming on line soon will be excursions in Belize, Costa Rica,
Cuba, Panama Canal ports and Trinidad and Tobago, Karp said.
"ShoreTrips fills a void in the marketplace," Ansfield said.
"Cruise passengers and land-only travelers can choose from a much
wider variety of excursions, enjoy trips with smaller groups, avoid
waiting in line to book and know in advance from our Web site the
details of their excursion."
For agents, it's a win-win situation -- and more than 15,000
agents have registered since ShoreTrips officially launched Jan.
Karp said no tour gets listed on the ShoreTrips site until
either he or Ansfield have met the operator, tested the program and
pronounced it fit.
Although ShoreTrips offers standard excursions, its forte is the
unusual, such as cave explorations on Puerto Rico, Creole cooking
lessons on St. Lucia and Aruba school visits.
The Web site also features a trip planner, which agents can use
to build client itineraries. The planner also can create electronic
brochures that can be personalized and e-mailed to clients.
Ansfield pointed out that "agents do not have to spend time
selling our tours."
"They direct their clients to our site," she said. "Even if
clients book directly with ShoreTrips, agents collect their
commissions because they initially referred the customers to
Commissions range from $5 per client, per tour, for excursions
priced up to $99; $10 for tours priced between $100 and $199; and
$20 for tours priced from $200 to $299. The commission increases in
$10 increments for each $100 price bracket.
ShoreTrips' most expensive tour costs $1,800 for a six-hour
private powerboat tour of the waters surrounding Red Hook and the
eastern end of St. Thomas.
"An eye surgeon booked this tour but because he had been
referred to ShoreTrips by his travel agent, the agent got a
commission," Ansfield said.
For information on ShoreTrips, call (888) 355-0220 or visit www.shoretrips.com.