Cruise Line Marketing Executives Share Their Branding Ways at Seatrade
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
It’s remarkable the degree to which cruise lines are currently rebranding themselves, and at Seatrade Cruise Global 2016, attendees were able to glean additional insight as to why. Marketing remains a very important factor in appealing to new demographics, and executives from MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises chatted all about it at the annual conference.
Gordon Ho, SVP, Global Marketing & North America Sales for Princess Cruises focused in on the need to expand globally and target those who are new to cruising, all while maintaining brand differentiation. China is clearly one such market, and the line’s clever “Princess Cruises Makes You Feel Like a Princess” commercial screened at the panel appeals more directly to the international crowd. Of course, as part of the expansive Carnival Corporation of cruise lines, Princess must also stand out from its sister brands even prior to other competitors.
For them and for many, that means partnerships. Partnerships bring recognizability to cruise brands in a strategic fashion. In the case of Princess, people who might not otherwise have cruising on their radar might be drawn to celebrity chef Curtis Stone or the musical talents of Stephen Schwartz and be intrigued to discover their latest creations onboard. It’s known as brand association, and as it’s prevalently employed throughout the industry, it clearly resounds with guests.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is an example of a company that is simultaneously holding on to its core values and refreshening its image. Its freestyle cruising is well established, but its new “Feel Free” campaign brings it to life as a call-to-action that also relies on partnerships, particularly in song form from Pitbull. Norwegian’s VP Field Sales & National Accounts, Nathan Hickman, presents the company’s Partners First program, emphasizing that travel agents also remain vital collaborators.
Like within the Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line takes advantage of its newfound synergy with Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and with it comes efforts to ensure quality control and brand consistency across the NCL fleet. This is already being implemented as part of the Norwegian Edge enhancement program. Also, if you’ve ever wondered which free promotional packages, themselves crucial marketing tools, are chosen by guests most, it’s the line’s drink and dining ones.
And as a quick humorous aside, Hickman told the story of how a couple once booked two of the line’s solo studio cabins to be comfortably separated because the husband snored.
As an independent operation, MSC Cruises may not have the corporate synergy that other lines have, but Ken Muskat, EVP, Sales, PR & Guest Services for the North American wing of the company proudly shares what they do have, from its own brand and travel agent partnerships to its unique loyalty program. In fact, agencies are key components in educating guests on MSC’s tiered inclusive pricing.
Its partnerships stretch broadly and include the likes of Samsung technologies, Technogym wellness and most recently, Cirque du Soleil for entertainment and celeb chef Roy Yamaguchi for dining. And for anyone who has not tried MSC Cruises, its marketing cleverly extends to a loyalty match program that provides comparable perks to those that guests are entitled to onboard competitors. With the upcoming MSC Seaside heading for Miami and the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve private destination opening set to coincide, the line is primed to make new inroads.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International was not included on the Seatrade panel, but it too is a company that is rapidly rebranding itself and worth mentioning, with an edge towards millennials. Like Norwegian’s, its “Come Seek” campaign features a strong call-to-action, and its new television commercials are kinetic cuts that briefly command even shortened attention spans. Jim Berra, the company’s chief marketing officer employs the whole gamut of social media channels to stay at the forefront, even inviting guests and crew to Periscope live from onboard its fleet.
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