Posts Tagged ‘Costa’

Word Cloud: Captain Schettino

A type of boomerang occurs for companies and victims that suffer tragic events.  First is the event itself, which is followed many months later by its reemergence in the news during subsequent trails and lawsuits.  And so it is with Carnival, Concordia passengers, crew and their families while the captain of the cruise ship finished his pre-trial hearings last week.  While no date has been set for the actual court case, we can expect the news flow to continue.

As demonstrated by the word cloud of that news flow below, the Captain remains squarely at the center of the discussion.

 

And the impact has been felt in the industry.  Three weeks ago on September 25th, the word "Costa" was mentioned 67 times in Carnival's Q3 earnings conference call.  That was more than “Executive” (66 times), but less than “quarter” (96 times).

In summary, earnings were reduced as a result of the Concordia incident by about $500 million, and Costa lost about $100 million in 2012.  In the most recent financial quarter – a quarter that booked revenue for sailings six to eight months after the accident, Costa accounted for over half of Carnival’s decline in net revenue yields.

The Costa brand’s occupancy drop was 5% in 2012, with an 11% decline in the second and a 6% drop in the third quarters.  In the fourth quarter of 2012 Costa’s ships are expected to match the occupancy rates of a year prior, albeit at lower prices.

Going forward, pricing and occupancy for Costa's bookings in Q1 2013 are tracking lower on a year-over-year basis.  However, these differences will narrow as year over year comparisons versus 2012 become easier.  According to Howard Frank, Carnival’s Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer “Based on consumer research, the brand perception in each of Costa's major markets is gradually improving so we are greatly encouraged by the resiliency of the brand.”

In fact, Carnival has a new build on order for Costa with expected delivery in the Fall 2014  The Costa brand is also helping to develop an emerging cruise market strategy in Australia and Asia.  Carnival has increased capacity by 8.5% in these markets and will be sending the Costa Atlantica to join the Costa Victoria in China in the spring of 2013.  Costa was an early entrant into the Chinese market and has a marketing history there.

Costa Concordia Impact to Cruise Prices and Bookings

Thus far pricing* for sailings on Costa (all Costa ships, all sailing departure dates) has not changed since the Concordia accident on January 13, 2012.  Click on graph below for advertised prices from January 7 to January 21, 2012.  Note little or no change to the booking prices.  With prices for Costa holding up, wave season for RCL and CCL are likely holding up as well (refer to Cruise Pulse for details).

This finding is backed up by responses from several U.S. travel agents in regard to booking demand.  Surprisingly, agents have indicated minimal to no demand impact.  Nevertheless, on 12/30/2012  Carnival guided loss a booking slow down in the mid teens.

Interestingly, travel agents are currently Carnival’s best marketing resource. While the “Land vs. Sea” campaign is off the air (given its theme the campaign does not “play well” with current events) thousands of travel agents are out in the community engaged in conversations with prospective cruisers on a daily basis.  It is these human one-on-one interactions that assure vacationers this tragic event is a “one off“ and in fact, given the renewed focus on safety and procedures, now is the safest time to cruise ever.

* Average price per day per person, inside cabin.


Costa Concordia impact

I’ve always been fond of the quotation “the law of flotation wasn’t discovered contemplating the sinking of things.”  This has certainly held true for the cruise industry – growing the annual number of passengers carried nearly 5 times over the past 20 years.  But with over 9,000 sailings worldwide in 2012 the odds of something going wrong somewhere do increase.

GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 21:  People look...

Traditionally I have considered the media coverage of cruises ships to be somewhat lopsided.  I imagine there are plenty of things going on over the course of a year throughout hotel rooms in Las Vegas for example – but we tend not to hear these stories. By contrast, we do readily hear about the occasional sick cruise ship passenger, bad smell or overboard suicide.

My heart goes out to the passengers and families on Concordia’s sailing.  This is a terrible tragedy by any measure.  Without diminishing these human experiences, the recent events of the Costa Concordia will at the very least have an impact to Carnival’s near term bottom line, something Cruise Market Watch can measure.

For the Costa Concordia, remaining sailings in Carnival’s First Quarter (Q1) 2012 would have brought in an estimated total of $15.8 million in ticket revenue.  For Q2 the impact will be in the order of $47.4 million in ticket revenue, Q3 $63 million and Q4 $45.9 million.  Concordia was booking considerably higher prices during the summer (June, July and August).  In a “back of the napkin” estimate that assumes the lost ticket revenue falls straight out of the bottom line this would equate to about .02 cents in Q1 earnings per share and .05 cents in Q2.  The loss to earnings from the Carnival Splendor incident was .07 cents per share in a single quarter.  Things we can’t measure include – what will be costs of raising and repairing the Concordia and when will she sail again?  Will those who have already booked future sailings on Concordia transfer their vacations to other ships?  What will be the legal actions and operational changes? We will have to wait to hear guidance from Carnival. Update: 12/30/2012  Carnival guided loss be in the range of $155-$175 million after a booking slow down in the mid teens.  This news came after initially guiding $85 to $95 million lower (or .11 cents to .12 cents per share) on 12/16/2012.

Fortunately, ship builder Fincantieri has ship yards located right in Italy.  Any near term impact to ticket pricing across Costa and other cruise brands will likely correlate with the duration of time in which the story continues to garner news headlines and cruise brands keep their wave season ad campaigns off the television.  Pricing impacts will continue to be closely watched.