Archive for September, 2008

Get Your Pod Chirping; The Video

By popular demand, we are proud to present the video version of the widely praised blog post "Get Your Pod Chirping; Grow Your Market Share."

 

August 2008 Cruise Search

Our monthly Cruise Search reflects change in demand and online market share. U.S. online cruise search is currently estimated at 9.4 million monthly unique individuals. Cruise Search shrank vs. both the previous month and August of last year. This indicates continued tempering in online activity likely based on the economic conditions faced by travelers.

% Change Aug '08
vs Last Year vs. Last Month
Total Internet Traffic 1.4% -0.1%
Total Cruise Search -4.9% -3.5%

Percentages in the charts below represent the approximate share of all online cruise traffic.

Chart 1 - % of traffic for top Cruise Lines from all cruise related traffic (click to enlarge)

 

CruiseSearch August 2008 Online Cruise Agent TrafficChart 2 - % of traffic for top booking sites from all cruise related traffic (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: Google Trends, Comscore

 

Cruise lines can capitalize on an overlooked marketing opportunity

Marketing, boiled down to its essence, is about crafting product and communications.

That held true in 1690 for Dom Pierre Perignon when word got around the palace of Versailles the blind Benedictine monk had combined stronger imported bottles and airtight corks with grapes from the northern most growing region of France.  It also holds true today for Harry Winston over discrete invitations to select male customers in Tokyo's Midtown for first picking rights in a hidden VIP room.

The point is that combining art and science, marketing requires shaping communications to best position your brand among desired audiences to ultimately influence a result – a purchase.

The means of communication can take many forms: various media, word-of-mouth, social networks and the often overlooked, ubiquitous email.

The shear volume of emails crossing cyber-space from businesses via employees is staggering – and almost every single one is a marketing opportunity lost.

Imagine, as a 46,000 employee cruise company, each email leaving your business is wrapped with a controlled, branded message and/or call to action.  As each is forwarded around and replied to, the exposure multiplies exponentially.  Before long, you’ve generated as much reach and frequency as a national television campaign – with measurable click-through rates and among an audience you know is engaged with a pre-disposition or interest in your product.

The same effect would work for travel agencies.  It’s a simple and easy process the folks at wrapmail can painlessly set up.  They kindly developed the samples above.

 

Mobile applications for increasing on-board revenues

Here is an idea.  Symbolically shed the vestiges of corporate life and ritually transition into the freestyle cruising culture.

Encourage owners to bring their Blackberry’s and iphones and upload a NCL widget.  In a fun and lighthearted way users would transform their “electronic lease” into a “personal freestyle cruising digital assistant.”

Talk about fish swimming against the school!

The widget would become passenger’s freestyle 2.0 on their phone - leading them through the leisure metamorphosis  - displaying shipboard services, event calendar, download pictures from phone to personal web page, delivering messages and even facilitating epayments.

Benefits:

  • The ritual transition communicates and strengthens the brand positioning
  • The widget tool increases and facilitates on-board spending
  • Acts as a retention device as the widget facilitates sending future “reminders” of the “freestyling” times once the passenger has returned back into the corporate office - along with offers to book next years vacation
  • First to market enhances image versus competition – particularly among a key market segment of business class professionals
  • Function off shipboard wifi or cell service

For example, a mobile campaign for Smirnoff vodka loads an application onto a user’s phone that guides them through how to include Smirnoff into a fun evening.  Users can enter the social situation they find themselves in – a business dinner, night out with the guys, or first date –and receive suggestions as to what cocktail order would be most appropriate for the situation.

The application even takes advantage of cross-promotional opportunities, suggesting bars and restaurants that are strategic partners, located in cities around the world, so that a business traveler can find an appropriate place to go while in a strange city.  And at the end of the night, the application will even call you a cab and give you directions back to your hotel.

Holland America has taken the first step in this direction with its custom e-brochures.

 

Cruise Ship 2.0

Web 2.0 is linking people.

Cruise 2.0 is linking cruisers to booking agents, travel discounters, reviews (by actual cruisers not professional critics) and self-created travel blogs.  Where is it going?

The article "Understanding the Psyche of Tomorrow's Travellers" states future cruisers “have grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, where landline telephones are considered a waste of space as they live on their cell phones and communicate via texting…prospective college roommates have already checked each other out on social networking sites, where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.”

The trend is already picking up considerable momentum.  A recent article from Theodore Koumelis "Web 2.0 playing big role in decision process" states "research conducted in August 2008 by Prophis Research with online US adults has shown that, when compared with a range of offline and online sources for travel decision-making, Internet sources are largely seen to be near the top of the list."

I envision a cruise ship version of classmates.com.  Select the line, ship and date.  Proudly receive a “badge” (an electronic version of state stickers RV vacationers place on their vehicles).  This automatically invites you to link to all others who were passengers on the same ship – opening communication channels to facilitate discussions, share photos, blogs, videos etc.,  Additionally, this would be a multilingual site (as another Koumelis article importantly points out) to facilitate the expansive international cruise and online growth.

The website would facilitate communication about:

  • who else was on your cruise ship at the same time as you?
  • what they thought of the experience, or what other cruises they would recommend?
  • where they booked their travel or what they paid for the same trip?
  • What they recommend for on-board and offshore activities?
  • Ever meet someone on-board you want to get into contact with but don’t know how to find them?
  • Ever want to contact someone who cruised a specific ship to ask a question (how about what it was like on the Carnival Miracle that left New York City on Aug. 29 (click here for story)?

Yes, there are cruise groups on other sites, facebook, flickr, etc., and yes there are cruise review sites, CruiseCritic, Cruisemates.com etc., However, in the ever evolving world of the web there are always opportunities to bring the next viral application to the market.

I would like to hear you thoughts.  Please post your opinion.

 

Who will be first to do a Cruise Ship reality show?

PORT CANAVERAL, FL - MARCH 06:  In this handou...

PORT CANAVERAL, FL - March 6, 2012 Disney Fantasy (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

 

Today's reality show phenomena launched in 1992 with MTV’s “The Real World” and intensified in 1997 with CBS’s Survivor.  It has since spun off some of the most iconic moments in modern U.S. pop culture covering everything from hair styling (Blow Out), motorcycle building (American Chopper), cheerleading (Making the Team), modeling (America’s Next Top Model), tanning (Sunset Tan) and a bar-tending (Coyote Ugly).

How much longer until there is a realty show that explores the interesting job of living and working aboard a cruise ship?  Or, for that matter, becoming an employee with a cruise vendor such as spa services provider Steiner?  Certainly there is interest among prospective viewers to support ratings and generate advertising revenues. A number of web-logs are written by on-board employees, at least two penned books (1) (2) and the Love Boat TV show was so popular it is often credited as helping launch the modern day growth of cruising.

A cruise line could even syndicate the program themselves, controlling content to maintain positive marketing images that would further promote cruise travel and employment recruitment.

We are now an amazing step closer to this “reality” with the debut an industry first, The Ultimate Ship Tour, "an exclusive opportunity to experience an array of 'back of house' areas that are key to a ship’s daily operations" aboard the Ruby Princess of Princess Cruises.

There are two other recent examples of very smart marketing partnerships related to the concept of cruise ship reality TV.  Instead of bringing the realty of the ship to viewers, they bring the non-reality of the TV to the cruisers:

  1. Disney Cruise Line and Disney Channel's partnership to develop “Suite Life on Deck” a scripted live-action comedy series spin-off of the Emmy-nominated “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.” It is filmed on the Disney Wonder.  Maximizing marketing potential and buzz they are holding a special premiere at sea, where guests sailing will experience a Hollywood-style, red-carpet arrival of Disney Channel stars, an exclusive sneak-peek of the first episode and an opportunity to participate in a Q&A with stars of the show.
  2. Similarly, Royal Caribbean wisely partnered with Nickelodeon creating a themed cruise with the family friendly, highly rated cable channel.  "On-board, Nickelodeon will provide families with such experiences as interactive game shows; meet-and-greets and performances by their favorite Nickelodeon stars; never-before-seen screenings and premieres of new, original Nick TV shows and movies.”

One can imagine the excellent marketing exposure within targeted audiences these types of partnerships provide.  Very smart.

 

Won’t you stay just a little bit longer?

easyCruise

easyCruise (Photo credit: Titanas)

 

One recent story on European line EasyCruise reminds me of the classic Jackson Browne song Stay. It’s also a wonderful marketing idea the larger lines can borrow from to get their pods chriping.

Research clearly indicates the importance of “sampling’” destinations in cruise selection and the large number of cruisers that subsequently return to ports of call for land based vacations.

So, why not re-capture a portion of this market by adding longer stays in port?
"The concept appears to have attracted people of all ages (mostly curious and well-behaved lovers of travel) who were interested in accessing ports…on schedules that allowed them to truly explore the islands.”

With the unquestionable and widely recognized value of cruises over the cost of land-based travel, cruise lines would have a distinct pricing advantage.  And for the traveler niche that is seeking to experience in more depth the destination this provides a good reason to consider a cruise for the return.

A bit more complex to coordinate with cabin embarkation/debarkation and specific destination requirements would be a “train service” approach where a cruiser could “drop off” at an island, stay as long as they like, then use their ticket to re-embark on essentially any ship within the same carrier line to catch the next cruise leg of their journey.