The cruise & destination resort industries are the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. Industry estimates are that 13.5 million people took a cruise vacation in 2009, with a total of 14.3 million passengers forecasted to sail in 2010.

The industry generated more than 357,000 American jobs, and direct spending by cruise lines and passengers alone on U.S. goods and services exceeded $19 billion.

The cruise industry's growth is also reflected in its expanding guest capacity. Nearly 40 new ships were built in the 1980s and during the 1990s, nearly 80 new ships debuted. By the end of 2009, over 100 new ships were introduced since 2000, with 12 new vessels on the way for 2010.

This strong growth has fueled the continuing evolution of the cruise & destination vacation experience. Over the years, the industry has expanded has also introduced innovative amenities and facilities, including cell phone access, Internet cafes and wireless fidelity (Wi-fi) zones.

Now consider the growth of social networking, a match made in heaven? What do you think?:

  • Social networks are the 4th most popular online activities online, including reading personal email. 67% of global users visit member communities and 10% of all time spent on the internet is on social media sites.
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth most populated place in the world. This means it easily beats the likes of Brazil, Russia and Japan in terms of size.
  • 80% of companies use, (or are planning to use), LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees during the course of this year. The site has just celebrated reaching its 45-millionth membership.
  • Around 64% of marketers are using social media for 5 hours or more each week during campaigns, with 39% using it for 10 or more hours per week.
  • It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners. Terrestrial TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users. The internet took four years to reach 50 million people... In less than nine months, Facebook added 100 million users.
  • Wikipedia currently has more than 13 million articles in more than 260 different languages. The site attracts over 60 million unique users a month and it's often hotly debated that the information it contains is more reliable than any printed Encyclopedia.
  • The most recent figure of blogs being indexed by Technorati currently stands at 133 million. The same report into the Blogosphere also revealed that on average, 900,000 blog posts are created within a single 24-hour period.
  • It's been suggested that YouTube is likely to serve over 75 billion video streams to around 375 million unique visitors during this year.
  • The top three people on Twitter (Ashton Kutcher, Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears) have more combined followers than the entire population of Austria.
  • According to Socialnomics, if you were paid $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $156.23 per hour.
  • The online bookmarking service, Delicious, has more than five million users and over 150 million unique bookmarked URLs.
  • Since April 2010, Twitter has been receiving around 20 million unique visitors to the site each month, according to some analytical sources
  • Formed in 2004, Flickr now hosts more than 3.6 billion user images.
  • Universal McCann reports that 77% of all active internet users regularly read blogs.

There is an opportunity here. An opportunity for your business to provide something previously unavailable to your clientele, while adding something to your bottom line.

It works like this.

White Buffalo Ventures, LLC. provides a seamless social networking feature to your existing website to provide a pre-arrival social meeting place designed to meet the needs of your cruise and/or destination vacation customer. Database partitioning allows cruisers and vacationers to meet others booked on the same cruise or to the same resort months, weeks or days in advance of the trip enhancing their anticipation and experience. Continuing to connect and share online while aboard or in residence, your customers will be drawn back, over and over to your website and to the other offers you provide for rebooking and up selling other products and services. After their vacation, your customers will continue to return to your website over and over again in order to use the social networking feature weeks and months after the trip in order to stay in touch with their new friends.

Best of all, it's safe, anonymous (unless and until your customers decide on their own to identify themselves to other voyagers or vacationers) and secure.