There are always new travel sites, new cruises, and new destinations popping up all the time, and when it comes down to it, travelers have a lot of choices. From the destination they choose to the cruise line they travel with, there’s a lot of information and misinformation out there.
On the destination side, cruise companies choose their routes based on a number of factors, and good marketing can increase a location’s chances of being added to an itinerary. Consumers, travel sites, and travel agents themselves have choices, and a good marketing plan is key to full cruises and tours, booked events, and even shopping traffic in markets. When you are setting new business goals and objectives for the new year, make a better marketing plan a part of them.
How do you stand out? How do you reach the customers who will actually travel with you at the time when they are booking vacations? Here are some tips to cruising to a better marketing plan in 2019.
Find a New Audience
Once thought to be the travel choice of baby boomers and retirees, more young people are choosing cruise destinations than ever before. A good part of the reason? Marketing. Cruise lines have set up party cruises, more modernized ships, and even eco-friendly and city visit cruises that have more appeal to a younger audience.
Fares are also another reason, and a big part of marketing. Better prices attract budget-conscious young people when they understand a week long cruise is a better value than a week-long vacation they will plan nearly anywhere else.
The key is reaching those younger customers. Where are these young people hanging out online? Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest are common, and are visual networks where photo sharing equals more responses. Don’t forget LinkedIn, a place where you can appeal to young professionals who might be in dire need of a vacation.
Remember to carefully construct your ads and landing pages. Be sure you have good reviews online. Millennials may click on your ad, but they will then go to Google to find your website and other information out there. Be sure that what they find entices them to do business with you.
Use Technology to Promote Your Cruise
Yes, millennials are value conscious when it comes to choosing their travel destinations, but they are also tech-savvy and looking for the “cool” factor in your marketing. What are some ways that you can reach them?
One thing to keep in mind is that video reaches more people and gets more engagement than other content. Yes, beautiful photos are important, but things like live video on social media, a solid YouTube channel (the second most popular search engine on the web), and even drone footage are great ways to use modern marketing technology. Using 360 video that can be viewed on a VR headset and cruise port live webcams also can increase visibility.
Using beacon technology is another way to entice people to cruise with you. Beacons can allow you to send personal messages to people as they move about the ship, add interactive maps, and enables you to send alerts to their phones about upcoming events. This works in two ways: first, it incentivizes them to cruise with you because you have technology other cruise lines may not, and secondly because you can market certain activities to passengers once they are onboard.
Another important part of technology is website personalization. Using big data and cookies, you can know a lot about a customer before they click on your site or when they return. Offering the option of logging in with social media may give you an idea of what kind of cruise they are interested in, and helps you shorten the buyer journey from “looking around” to booking.
Use email newsletters to let those who have cruised with you know what is coming up next, but don’t be spammy about it. Return cruisers or previous travelers referring their friends will be one of the best ways you’ll get new customers.
Come Up With a New Theme
Theme cruises are also a huge draw for young cruisers, focusing on everything from music festivals at a sea to the 1980’s. What themes do well with cruisers?
- Movie Themes
- Writer and Poets Cruise Themes
- Decade Themes
- Superhero and Comic Themes
- Party Themes
- Reunion Themes
- Fitness Themes
The point is that there is always a new craze out there that you can take advantage of with a cruise theme, attracting a whole new audience. Many, once they have been on a cruise, will be more inclined to go on one again. Use themes to build lifetime customers.
Understand and Analyze Your Value Chain
What is your value chain? This is a sophisticated business term that refers to looking at the entire cruise process from searching for one, to booking, to everything that happens and every activity to see where you can add value. The key is to understand that you are really providing a service, and adding value does not have to cost you anything.
The value chain is not just about what the customer sees either. Southwest Airlines is a good example. To fulfill their value chain promise of low airfares, they took a risk and signed a contract locking in fuel prices for a number of years, gambling that they would not fall. This allowed them to keep cheap flights when fuel prices rose, and really hurt other airlines.
Understanding the value chain is critical to communication with the rest of your business to make sure you can continue to provide customers the values you have promised, from your procurement strategy to booking the right acts and having the right decorations and amenities onboard.
Content is the Cruise King
We talked already about how important video is, but that is not the only content you will need on your website and beyond. Having a good website and adopting good SEO practices means you will rank well in online searches — one of the first places a customer will discover you. But if you want to rank for “Best Carribean Cruises in December” you will have to have content that speaks to that, and you will need to get other sites to link to that content.
As long as content continues to matter to Google and other search engines, SEO, the right keywords, and links will matter to you. Digital marketing is key to attracting new audiences and even keeping your current travelers coming back. A cruise that is on page two or three of a Google search will get almost no online traffic, and as important as travel agents and others are to your business, organic web traffic may be just as important.
Remember, younger people sometimes don’t use travel agents and plan and book vacations themselves. They do this through the web, and your presence there is key.
Want more travelers in 2019? Want to attract a different audience and propel your business forward? Be sure to include better marketing in your business planning, and follow these tips to cruise forward to success.
This article is brought to by Cruise Compete. CruiseCompete.com allows you to easily compare multiple offers from Cruise Experts