Once the initial panic to the stock market fall stabilizes, vacationers will begin to feel less stressed, adjusted to their current economic circumstances and more comfortable to begin booking again. This will happen soon.
Over the longer period of a recession, I believe vacations (perhaps considered a luxury to previous generations) are now considered a necessity. Even in this economic slowdown, people will still be looking for something to do – just searching for a better vacation value.
This will mean:
Families who were thinking 7 day cruises will now be booking 4 or 5 day cruises (shorter cruises in-fact, might prompt higher per-day per passenger on-board spending).
But most importantly, non-cruisers who were considering a different type (more expensive/less value) of vacation may now consider a cruise.
Where else can you find for as little as $100 per person per night?
Breakfast, lunch and a lobster tail sit down dinner – every day
Nightly Vegas style entertainment
Hotel room accommodations
Travel to exotic destinations
Casino, shopping etc. etc.,
No doubt, the oncoming recession is serious. Cruise lines earnings per share will be impacted. To keep prices low and cabins filled cruise lines will make:
additional expansions to local ports of call (further reducing consumer's travel costs)
more pricing segregation on ships – meaning less access to fewer included amenities for lower priced berths.
fewer all-inclusive amenities overall and more charges for on-board services.
My point is the recession may actually stimulate some non-cruisers to try one for the first time due to the value. Over the long term, this would further expand the market and positioning cruise lines for even more success in the future. To make this happen during these rough economic times, cruise lines must not back-off promotions, advertising the worry free escapism and value cruises offer.
The current crisis will be reminiscent of the post 911 "cocooning" phenomena that lead, to among other things, a revolution in kitchen home remodeling towards creating larger and more accommodating spaces to share and enjoy with friends and family.
A new post "Mortgage Meltdown" economy will manifest itself in everything from food (smaller portions) to shopping (socially and environmentally conscious) and excursions (healthy, smaller social footprint). For the next several years, keywords will be caring, self-consciousness, reflection on "what's really important" and restraint - the opposite of anything appearing as gluttony or greed.
According to a new Ad Age article, Celebrity "is said to be pondering whether its messaging, which uses the 'Starring you' tagline to focus on the pampering, indulgent treatment it offers guests, is right for the economically challenged times."
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.
Posted By Cruise Market Watch / 8th September 2008
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.
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
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.
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:
Disney Cruise Line and Disney Channel'spartnership 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.
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.
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.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning? If you are diabetic, it was likely a slice of whole wheat bread and cottage cheese. A wrestler? Add eggs, bacon, potatoes, orange juice, butter, milk and jelly. From India? A nashta. Cuba, for sure there will be a cafecito. So culture, health and profession are at least three variables that could predict what you will eat for breakfast.
Given knowledge of other possible variables and a large enough data set, one could accurately predict within a range of six or seven items what you will eat for breakfast and be right 95% of the time. Your spouse, after living tog
Disney Fantasy in New York (Photo credit: insidethemagic)
is important to Cruise Line marketers? Because travelers, like breakfast eaters, make decisions based on a set of variables relevant to their lives. Knowledge of these variables and the segments that share them in common lead to five things:
1. Development of product and experience to match consumers price and desire
2. Effectiveness in delivering the right message
3. Efficiency in marketing with the right channels
4. Ultimate satisfaction of the consumer
5. And the chirping they will subsequently do with others in their pod
The graphic below illustrates a number of variables that predict cruise behavior, and how they might aggregate to form market segments.
Explorers- The segment we love to love. These folks take four or more vacations per year, have disposable incomes and take longer cruises, exotic cruises and cultural learning cruises. Education and social causes are important to them. So are making friends and socializing. It’s a smaller and more saturated segment, but one that is lucrative and important to satisfy to retain their business. This group also represents future opportunity, as more couples become empty nesters and retired upscale boomers.
Admirals- These folks have selected their preferred cruise provider and seek a traditional experience. They tend to ritualize their travel experience and don’t usually experiment unless their favorites start to become stale or so radically different the attributes they admired become unrecognizable. Great cruise consumers, they tend to be older and a good, loyal customer base but offer less opportunity for growth.
Marines- This desirable yet elusive segment is made up of upscale, motivated and active young professionals. They are most likely to snorkel, para-sail, surf and rock climb. Whether new or experienced cruisers, they are always auditioning better ships. They are intellectually curious, media-involved, and they perceive value in not only the appearance of being active but also the reality of learning and being challenged. Cruise companies can grow well in this segment. They are the logical target for active ship design strategies as well as expanding Internet marketing.
Little Mermaids - This segment is made up of upper middle class families. They are experiencing an increase the pace of daily activity and a crunch for time. With every non-working moment devoted to family errands (stopping at the Home Depot to pick up an attachment for the air pump for the kids pool or running to Target for a new basketball for the son’s friends birthday party) they are looking to maximize leisure activity as a family experience that includes opportunities for real quality-bonding.
Escapers - This is a desirable segment and probably the core of the cruise market. They are just looking to get away. All-inclusive is just fine. No complications, no worries. From their point of view, after having spent a hectic year in the rat race with traffic jams, bad tempered people and an abundance of things that need to be done, they have earned the pleasures of doing nothing but sitting by the pool, seeing a few sites and relaxing. They are somewhat price sensitive but will always find the money for the trip they deserve.
Souvenirs - These folks have jobs (not careers) and lives (not lifestyles). Because the exact line isn't as much a priority for them as price, their cruise habits skew toward just taking a trip more than specific destinations or activities. Lacking intense interest in the world outside they are primarily focused the internalized experience of the moment. They tend to take a cruise vacation only when there’s a “really good deal” that everyone’s talking about.
Adrift - There is a group of people in every society who are disconnected from travel commerce, not curious about what's going on in the world and not likely to posses the disposable income. This segment is a realistic target for the attention of breweries and bait shops - not cruise line marketers
This is a theoretical model to be refined with ongoing ethnographic research and ultimately requires validation and statistical modeling with quantitative survey data.
It is an interesting fact that 38% of all cruisers have returned to destinations for a land-based vacation after first going by cruise. In fact, when comparing the benefits of cruising over other vacations, 61% consider it preferable specifically because it provides a chance to scope out several different locations in one trip.
With some cruisers taking up to four additional non-cruise vacations a year, this strikes me as a tremendous opportunity.
Wouldn't it open the possibilities to brand extensions into hotel chains or destination-based businesses? I commend Carnvial for past experimentation with Carnival Crystal Palace hotel in Nassau and Carnival Air, but see a time to innovate new ways to capitalize on returning visitors.
I'm not speaking about expensive acquisitions in areas outside of core competencies, I am speaking about joint ventures, name leasing arrangements or marketing partnerships. For example, Donald Trump has earned several million of his dollars not as developer or an investor but by having others pay him to use his name on their condominium towers.
New and upcoming developments like Xcarat find value in extending awareness among potential visitors. They could name and create an exclusive activity within the park for a cruise line. In return, the cruise line extends time of stay in the local port (allowing time to experience the activity). The cruise line wins because its brand is seen by non-cruise visitors to Xcaret and cruise travelers choose it over competition because of the exclusive experience. Xcarat wins the traffic of the cruise line and the visitor wins all around.