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."
Posted By Cruise Market Watch / 13th September 2008
Our monthly Cruise Search reflects change in demand and onlinemarket 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.