Soli DG, a maritime business consulting firm, has been awarded the bid to take over CruiseMaine against a single competing bid.
Soli DG came to the table with a total proposed annual cost of $115,000, with total fixed costs of $105,000 combined with a variable $10,000 budget, according to documents posted online by the Maine State Legislature.
The bidding period was opened by the State of Maine’s tourism office in late June, with a three week window to submit proposals. The contract will run for a full year before being re-evaluated, for the potential for two 24-month options.
“The first step is to meet with the Maine Office of Tourism and to query everything that has been done. We do this with every business opportunity, to assess what has worked and what hasn’t worked,” said Patrick Arnold, owner at Soli DG.
“Based on that, we will start developing a strategic plan … come the fall we will be a lot further along in terms of having mapped out strategic elements we want to put in play to keep Maine at the forefront of cruise tourism,” Arnold continued, speaking to Cruise Industry News.
“Following a competitive bid process, the contract for providing management of cruise marketing, coordination and outreach has been awarded to Soli DG, Inc., pending final approval by the State Procurement Review Committee,” said Steve Lyons, acting director of Maine Tourism. “The next step is for the Office of Tourism to meet with Soli DG to discuss contract terms and set priorities for the first year of the contract. We expect to have a contract in place by the last week in August.”
According to the RFP Proposal Master Sheet summary, the office was looking for a different and innovative approach to CruiseMaine.
Soli DG was founded in 2007 by Patrick and Janeen Arnold, with the former enjoying a three-year stint working directly for Norwegian Cruise Line.
The company, in its bid to run CruiseMaine, said it had helped build up the cruise business in Portland by presenting fuel-saving itineraries to the cruise lines.
“In the case of Royal Caribbean, it was demonstrated that they would save $397,000 over four weeks alone using the itineraries Patrick provided versus the itineraries they were running for the 2007 season,” the proposal said.
Top-line agenda items for Soli’s bid would include increasing cruise calls, converting passengers into repeat tourists and having a strong, unified presence for Maine in the cruise industry.
In the proposal, the firm suggested engaging Ports America for public-private partnerships surrounding infrastructure developments in Bar Harbor and Portland.
Other plans include an overhaul of the CruiseMaine marketing presence, with a new website, social media presence and branding initiative.
Based in Portland, Maine, Soli has nine employees.
Previously, CruiseMaine was run and co-founded by Amy Powers, who has since setup her own consulting firm, which did not submit a bid.