Posted By Cruise Market Watch / 19th November 2008
Lets face it; there are just three ways to grow revenue:
1. Increase spending and/or frequency among current customers
With a combination of increased passenger capacity, pressure on pricing and the general economic malaise, number one will be difficult in 2009.
2. Acquire customers from your competition
Number two may be easier, given uncertain levels of brand loyalty among contemporary lines in particular (a subject for a future post). But the result may be lower prices and squeezed margins.
3. Expand the cruise market and acquire new customers
The time is ripe for number three.
A) The market potential is certainly bigger. According to the Allied Academics International Conference the cruise industry holds only two percent of the market share in the total vacation industry. Only 45% of the target North American market has EVER cruised – and there is no reason over time this can’t rise to 70%-80%.
B) The economy may prompt non-cruisers to try something different, of a greater perceived value.
How do we win them? By utilizing a “Link Together and Take Away” strategy.
“Link together” means partnering the cruise line's brand into the extended, non-vacationing lives of consumers. This shouldn’t be done haphazardly. Research on each lines core customers should be conducted to see what other brands and products it's best customers tend to gather around, use most and associate with. Then, reach out to create logical branding partnerships to “link together” – drawing in new cruisers via the associations.
Fashion retailers: runway and fashion show on board
Auto makers: place an automobile on deck for one of 3,000 passengers to win. In return, auto manufactures run a sales contest giving away cruises to top performers
Real Estate: buy a new home from a builder and get a free cruise
Refrigerator: A Northland stainless mini-fridge in each stateroom. In return, each sold in stores has a sicker inside (take a cruise and for seven days you won’t have to use this)
These are just examples. It’s all about creative ways to get the cruise line’s brand in front of non-cruisers who, in their purchasing behavior, mirror the line’s current best customers.
Fortunately consumers surf different web sites and make use of significant research months before they make their vacation choice. In addition to buying Google keywords “cruise,” our ads should also be appearing when they search “getaway spa.” In addition to posting display advertising where current cruisers hang out (travel sites and cruise boards) place them in spa message boards, spa blogs, spa websites and spa niche publications. Invite influential spa experts to sail and lecture. Importantly, the messaging should be specifically tailored to address each particular niche (spas, exotic destinations etc.,).
In sum, 2009 will be an exciting and challenging year. There is an opportunity to go after first time cruisers. By linking together with the non-travel brands that resonate with a given line’s target prospects and by bringing in new travelers to experience the spa or destinations we can all make out like Bond... James Bond.
You will read me referring to “getting your pod chirping” throughout this blog. What do I mean? Well, dolphins swim in pods. And as it turns out, these aquatic mammals are actually quite social. They communicate by producing chirps, whistles, creaks, chuffs, screams, squawks and pops.
What does this have to do with marketing? Well, the ocean is a big place and so is the marketplace (if you are going to be all things to all people). If you are tossing a pebble into the sea it is time to rethink your strategy. Here are five simple rules to help you focus (click here for the video).
1. Pick a pod. One that will immediately find value in your product or service (will help the pod catch more fish, swim faster or discover new ways to play). You want to find the pod you can make “chirp.” If you are setting out to be a better Google, Microsoft, Publix, Ebay, Hoover, Nebraska Furniture Mart, the Rolling Stones or any other dominant market leader then I propose you may be trying to drink the entire ocean in one gulp. Are your resources inexhaustible? Better to change the rules, disrupt the status quo and find a niche where you can be the best in the world. Pick a pod like Addthis, Quicken, Wholefoods, Skype, Dyson, PB teen and Lou Reed.
2. Get the attention of the pod. The pod is busy chasing its next meal. To get its attention requires a product that will resonate throughout it. One that is different, unique, extraordinary, of real value and delivered with a true passion.
3. The right product or service must be focused on gaining the attention on the alpha influencer. Which dolphin is leading your target pod? If your idea can get the alpha influencer chirping, then it will evangelize it to the rest of the pod.
4. Is your pod chirping? If so, you’ve succeeded in reaching the tipping point within your market niche. Now you need to deliver on the promise of your brand. Do you provide irreplaceable value? Do the members of the pod bestow status upon users of your product or service? Can your pod rely on you to deliver time and time again? Can the pod no longer imagine the ocean without you?
5. Now that you’ve left the “long tail” of “OK,” “average” and "also run" behind; you are a market leader in your pod. It is your job to stay alert and ahead of the sharks (the next disruptive wave). Remember, if your looking ahead, with each disruption comes a new opportunity. While the music, automotive and movie industry pods are threatened and scattered, allmusic guide , smartcars, solaris and imdb thrive.
I had been wanting to blog about a “biker” themed cruise – after all, there are 6.6 million motorcycles registered in the U.S. (growing 37% since 2001). My idea is to bring Bret Michaels of Poison, reunite Nazareth and land Blue Oyster Cult (you get the idea). Then I ran across Bill and Sandy Papagno at Bikes on Board. They have done it a bit different – better if you prefer actually riding. You can really bring your own motorcycle on the ship with you! If you read my blog you know I love simple, good ideas that serve niche markets. Bill and Sandy are creating a “chirping within the pod” i.e. doing something so cool that it gets the niche market members talking about it…like I am now. Kudos guys.