Agents tell cruise lines: Time to rethink marketing

Cruise operators should do more to differentiate their brands

Focus on the experience, and shift pricing information online – that was the consensus at a roundtable hosted by Norwegian Cruise Line, TTG Digital reports. Cruise operators should do more in their brochures to highlight the wonder of cruising and differentiate their brands, the discussion group decided.

The group of 12 agents, operators and Norwegian Cruise Line staff were taking part in a conversation hosted by the cruise operator. They argued that rather than simply highlighting itineraries and prices which quickly date, cruise lines should focus on pushing the concept of the cruise and the unique selling points their own brands offer.

“You need to get across the value of cruising. A lot of new-to-cruisers don’t really understand what good value a cruise is and you can do more to show that in the brochure,” said Virgin Holidays product development manager Lucy Booth. “There’s more opportunity to shout about what good value it is.”

Jetline head of product Martin Tanner argued that while cruise lines should spend time discussing cruise as a general holiday, it is vital they focus on what sets them apart for customers once on board.

“All cruise lines are the same – they don’t want to show what their ships are like, they show a picture of the beach and a couple having a drink in the sunset,” he said. “People book a cruise because they want to go on a cruise; they want to know about the ship, they want to see what’s in the ship, what you get, what’s included and not included.”

The suggestion was made that cruise lines offer sample menus and information on the price of drinks, explaining where the bars are and what they’re like.

“The brochure is a one-stop place to promote what’s different about Norwegian and your ships, and there’s not enough of that,” Tanner said.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s business development manager Mark Godden agreed that web content can prove to be an effective boost to a brochure, which can only show so much. Nick Wilkinson, the line’s director of business development, UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, told the group about one agent who finds 45% of all brochures he is sent remain unracked and unused. The agents said that unrequested brochure drops can be annoying and that cruise operators need to better match their distribution to agents’ needs.

TTG Digital

[pictured: Norwegian Getaway; image courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line]