Using ‘The Power of We’ to reel in those first-time cruisers


Why are there still so many “cruise virgins,” despite all the allure of being on the ocean or river? How do you get those who have abstained so far to jump onboard?

As Jonathan Tisch writes in his book “The Power of We,” working together yields superior results. I believe a cruise industry campaign — not just the individual brands, but an industry-wide promotion — will most expeditiously grow the market with a significant return on investment for all stakeholders.

Skiing, boating and RV stakeholders perennially grow their industries with awareness-building and lead-generating consumer campaigns. (By the way, they’re simultaneously tempting away potential cruisers.) It’s time cruising competed with these other leisure industries on the same field of battle.

The beneficiaries of such a campaign extend beyond cruise lines: Shipbuilders, suppliers, support services, media, etc., all would see their bottom lines grow with an increase in “new to cruise,” in both the short and long term.

The gameplan

How to accomplish? As there would likely be an ROI benefit correlated to the scale of each cruise line, the budget for such an effort could be based on what percentage each stakeholder’s revenue represents within the industry, The ultimate budget depends on how much growth the industry wants and can accommodate.

Mass media — television, digital channels, news and information outlets — represent the most significant pool to build awareness for potential cruisers.

Direct response mechanisms can capture hundreds of thousands of leads, distributed appropriately to travel advisors who can close the sale for each contributing partner. These leads are in addition to increased benefit awareness, site visitation and immediate bookings from the brand building.

Last year on a panel at Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld, moderator Mary Pat Sullivan, a marketing SVP at Northstar Travel Group, asked Ken Muskat, at the time the COO at MSC Cruises, “What would you do if you had a TV spot during the Super Bowl?” Ken’s response was on the mark: “Run a spot about the beauty of cruising, with a sweepstakes.”

That would deliver millions of immediate site visitors, a million-plus leads for distribution and a buzz that would last for weeks … oh, and during Wave season.

CLIA’s mission statement includes “promoting the common interests of the cruise community.”

I believe that a consumer campaign, perhaps coordinated by CLIA, will not only increase the bottom lines of industry stakeholders but can also educate lawmakers about the proactive and passionate efforts the industry is undertaking to reduce carbon emissions.

I conclude as I began: Every cruise line wants new-to-brand cruisers. We have several new ships entering the category for every type of cruiser. Shouting as a group is much louder than shouting individually. I would happily volunteer to take whatever role the industry wants to create momentum.

I’d love to take a meeting with senior management at this year’s CruiseWorld.

Courtesy of Travel Weekly

cruise ship in NY Harbor