PHOTO: Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Explorer. (photo by Jason Leppert)
The cruise industry is on the cusp of change as boomers and millennials are neck and neck as the biggest source market for passengers. Inevitably there will be more millennials cruising than boomers, and cruise lines are privy to that reality in all segments, luxury included.
It just so happens that Regent Seven Seas Cruises might have a solution to bridging the gap via social media, even if unintentionally.
In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the luxury line is planning 25 special sailings with a new “Social Media Experience – Discover How To Share Great Stories” enrichment program along for the ride. Its goal is to educate guests on using social media channels, digital photography and video to share their onboard experiences with friends and family members back home. They can also submit directly to the Regent25.com celebration website, all while utilizing unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi access.
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Planned sessions include Taking the Perfect Selfie, Editing and Filtering Photos; Creating Digital Videos; Facebook & Twitter Basics, Updating Privacy Settings.
Honestly, millennials, like myself, may find most of that rudimentary, but for boomers, these are brilliant. While millennials are already part of the cruising marketing equation—inherently sharing their experiences and in turn promoting the product—boomers might not be.
By learning these skills, boomers are not only likely to join the fold alongside millennials, but they are also likely to better relate to each other onboard, closing any awkward generation gaps and creating a community of like-minded travelers joined technologically.
Of course, a common interest in the destination alone should bring them all together, but social media can only help.
READ MORE: Cruise Marketing: From Travel Posters to Social Media
After all, standard mainstream lines are already doing the best job at appealing to younger generations with bigger and bolder ships, plus plenty of activities, dining and entertainment to partake in. Premium and luxury lines have more of an uphill battle as they are stereotypically perceived as catering to older crowds with smaller ships and less to do.
Of course, this may often be false, but perception is reality.
One thing mainstream lines should take a lesson on (from luxury ones) is the free internet access, especially for social media. Guests are mostly using these channels to market on the lines’ behalf!
Also, while such a social media enrichment program is clearly not geared to millennials, we are more likely to take pause and appreciate the efforts to bring boomers up to speed.
READ MORE: Attention, Cruise Lines: Here's How to Make Internet Access Better
Jason Montague, President and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in a press release, said, “Social media has taken on a central role in how people communicate and we are helping guests better tap into that power. Guests can immediately put their new skills to use and connect with me on Facebook, where I answer questions, and feature our incredible crew and offer exclusive peeks into the Regent Seven Seas Cruises experience.”
That’s a pretty cool behind-the-scenes touch that everyone can get excited about. Joining in on the conversation with the lead of a company is always a special way to interact with the cruise line, thereby sharing feedback and potentially helping form its future direction for all demographics.
Yes, millennials will fully overtake boomers as the predominant cruise set, but they need not be independently sheltered subsets in the meantime. Social media and digital technology is a way we can all share in a modern cruise experience, but I also remind us all to put our phones and cameras down from time to time and share the destination itself without distraction.
Technology may initially bring us together, but our shared interest in world travel is what forever sustains our mutual bonds.
Facebook and Twitter have got nothing on that.