Six Quick Questions for Dwain Wall in China
PHOTO: Dwain Wall in front of the office building that houses his new office in Beijing, China. (Courtesy of Dwain Wall)
Long-time cruise sales executive Dwain Wall is living in China, where he serves as co-president of Bestours Software, the parent company of a new Chinese cruise website called WorldCruise.cn. We caught up with the former general manager of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. to find out about his new business, the potential of the Chinese cruise market, and his life in Beijing.
TravelPulse: WorldCruise.cn has officially launched. Tell us what it offers.
Dwain Wall: First, it is important to understand the market dynamics of China to fully understand our business plan and what we are offering the market. The Chinese population is heavily focused on the Internet, with 60 of the largest cities in China spending approximately 70 percent of their leisure time on the Internet. With a population of more than 13 billion, China leads the world in the number of Internet users and thus, Chinese enterprises are deploying sophisticated e-commerce strategies.
Our consumer sites, WorldCruise.cn in English and ylly.com in Chinese, are intended to become the leading cruise vacation OTA offering a wide range of products from all of the leading cruise lines, including China homeports, international departures and cruise-tour packages. The sites offer the first live booking web platform to offer a Chinese language website. We also offer a travel agent site that can be privately labeled to promote an agency’s own charter product.
TP: Does it solely offer Asia cruises to people who live in China or does it book cruises globally to Chinese-speaking travelers all over the world?
DW: The initial site is targeted to the China marketplace for both China homeport cruise departures and international cruise departures. The site, however, could easily be marketed to Chinese speaking travelers around the world.
TP: What has the response been so far?
DW: While WorldCruise.cn is currently in its soft launch phase, we are making great strides and are on track for a very successful year. In the first month since launch, we are ranked as the No. 4 cruise website in China on Baidu, which is a major search engine in China, similar to Google. This truly is a testament to WorldCruise.cn’s potential, as this ranking has been achieved without focusing on SEO/SEM. The interest in cruise product both in the China homeport and in international departures has exceeded our expectations, and sales are on target for the year ahead.
TP: What is the potential of the Chinese cruise market?
DW: Asia’s cruise industry is on track for a record-breaking year in 2015. According to research conducted by Cruise Lines International Association, the number of Asian cruisers is growing at an annual compound rate of 34 percent since 2012, reaching 1.4 million in 2014. That growth was fueled by a 79 percent jump per year in the number of Chinese travelers over that period.
In response, the world’s leading cruise companies have added significant capacity in China, and that pace is expected to continue as more brands announce new commitments to the China market.
An important driver of this growth is the Chinese government’s support of building homeports in China. The investment is substantial and the competition among the port cities to build world-class port facilities is strong. China is expected to grow from five ports currently operating to more than 14 over the next few years. A projected 50 cruise ships from most major cruise lines will utilize the new capacity offered by these new homeports.
The Chinese government projects that a total of 4.5 million Chinese will cruise by 2020, which is evidence that now more than ever is the ideal time to launch WorldCruise.cn.
TP: So you’re living in Beijing now. Any culture shock?
DW: I have to admit it has been quite a culture shock, but I am a natural traveler and thrive on cultural differences. One interesting note is that living in a city such as Beijing is quite a different experience from that of a tourist. Every day is a new challenge and a new adventure, but an exciting one at that!
Though the language barrier can be difficult at times, I have found the Chinese to be extremely helpful and welcoming in my new home. I am learning my way around this city of more than 24 million people and have begun to frequent my favorite restaurants both for Chinese and Western cuisine. Beijing is a world-class city that offers something for everyone and is truly an amazing place to live.
TP: What are your must-sees for visitors to Beijing?
DW: A trip to Beijing wouldn’t be complete without visits to Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square, The Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and of course, The Great Wall, which is a short driving distance from the city and definitely a must-see. Other important sites include the Jade Museum and of course the Hutongs, where you can experience a rickshaw ride. There are also other ways to experience Beijing both ancient and modern. For example, there is an area called 798 Art Zone or Dashanzi Art District, which is a series of old decommissioned military factory buildings designed with unique architectural style. The area is a thriving artistic community with many galleries, restaurants and shops.
More by Theresa Norton
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Airlines & Airports