Finding new passengers – keep the spa, toss the cruise.

Feb 8th I began blogging our “finding new passengers series,” focusing on the size of the spa market and its growth potential.  In this post I’d like to focus on the how.

First, let’s discuss the natural law of consumer attraction.  

  • cruise-spa-market-share-groIn order to bring the spa market to cruise, you must either create new first time spa users or take customers away from a different spa brand.  Either way, you need to be seen as a superior spa alternative.  As shown in the chart, if you demonstrate a “superior spa experience” for a competitive price you will draw away business from competition and gain market share.  This is the law of consumer attraction – over time consumer segments within a market niche will gravitate towards the superiorly branded and priced alternative.
  • How does the cruise industry create a “superior spa experience.”  I suggest we use the fact the ship is surrounded by water to our advantage.  About 60% of adult men’s bodies are water; babies are born at about 78%.  Therefore, the most holistic, natural and organic approach to healing should be surrounding oneself with the most abundant and natural element on earth.  We brand the fact we are placing the spa user in the best environment for the most true and honest spa experience.  
  • Here is the tough part to get over.  To a spa user, it’s not about the ship, it’s about the spa.  This may be a difficult concept for marketers inside the cruise industry to overcome – naturally we have been trained by repetition to focus on the ship.  It took billions to build; we put hearts and souls into it and rightly love it.  But think about it from a spa consumers view.  As an example, look at the luxury watch ads – is it about the watch (spa) or about the store that sells it (cruise line).  How about “To book an official AquaSpa experience today call 1-800-000-000.”  Is this approach different for a cruise line, yes.  Daring, definitely.  Effective?  Only if you want to create buzz and acquire customers from the spa segment.













  • I’d partner with a well-known spa “guru” to create a unique brand, branded treatment techniques and spa products related to the seawater, then launch it in media where spa goers thrive.  Furthermore tie in the ship menu, the shore side itineraries, the health club and on board activities (yoga instead of Vegas style show anyone?)

In summary:

1. Choose the target (destination spa users)

2. Brand the spa to be different and better (extraordinary, unique, new, trendy and the ultimate health experience due to natural healing of salt water treatments and peaceful, rejuvenating places).

3. Get the attention of the pod by taking your message to the alpha influencer

  • Get an already famous spa name to co-brand
  • Give spa writers and bloggers a free spa experience
  • Advertise the Spa (not the cruise) to the target (spa magazines, web sites, buy google spa related ad words). 
  • Price the spa in. Remember the target is buying a new type of destination spa package, not a cruise.

4. Finally, deliver on the promise (build it, do it, don’t fake it).  

Next week we will focus on some spa developments coming from the new cruise ships.


  1. Right On! I’ve been preaching this for the 20 years I’ve been working in this industry. The obvious brand partner is of course Red Door, the most well known domestic brand, which would of course give the parent company Elizabeth Arden and the cruise partner the chance to explore many cross-promotion opportunties. But as Steiner retains the vast share of the spa concession business, the easiest get is what would happen if Steiner closed the AquaSpa brand and re-launched their marine product under their healthy “Mandara Spa” brand. Have to imagine the Warshaw’s have explored that notion, but what do I know…..

    • Thanks for stopping by Lee. You know a lot, and what makes obvious sense my friend. I think that while the cruise industry has rightly focused its business on growth via shipbuilding, expanded ports etc., it has been the easier path to simply contract out the spa and take the revenue cut.

      BUT as the cruise industry matures its growth curve will begin to flatten, and when that begins to happen it is imperative the industry looks to aggressively and CREATIVELY expand out to capture new non-cruisers. Logic dictates that to do this requires taking away customers from other markets, and the only way that can be achieved is hard work and being the best in that niche – not as an afterthought.