Calmer seas lie ahead for cruise lines. Marketers can help them weather the storm and get there faster.
The cruise industry was one of the first to feel the full effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. Interest in cruising remains high, however. Cruise lines that can capitalize on that interest until departure day is safe once again are best positioned to endure through their toughest season in decades.
Innovative use of email will be a key asset for cruise line marketing teams working hard to reassure and engage passengers, update messages swiftly and create more personalized, relevant campaigns faster and more cost-effectively. Its cost effectiveness and flexibility offer marketers a powerful combo to continue engaging future passengers and weather the storm.
So far in 2020, bookings for 2021 cruises are up 40% over the same time in 2019, a representative of Cruisecompete.com told the Los Angeles Times. Only 11% of those bookings were from people whose 2020 cruises were canceled, she said.
The demand for bookings, although a year out, is a bright spot in an industry that effectively shut down by government order, and it indicates that cruise passengers are still interested in sightseeing by water. Though there’s still uncertainty about how COVID and the resulting economic difficulties will play out, there’s reason to be hopeful for the future.
A traditional single-note “Book This Cruise” message will likely not be enough to bring back a large swath of the cruise-going public. Cruise marketing must adjust to new expectations and concerns, address a changing lineup of passenger worries, and respond when conditions change unexpectedly.
“We have seen consumers, at this stage, be more health-sensitive than price-sensitive,” Robert Li, director of the U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism and Hospitality Research at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, told the Los Angles Times.
A new Liveclicker guide, Email Marketing for Cruise Lines: Finding the Layline to Success through Personalization, gives marketers a quarter-by-quarter playbook of recommendations for sending emails that keep up with and even anticipate passengers’ interests and concerns.
Near-term email campaigns can focus on reassuring both passengers and cruise shoppers about health and safety measures and supporting passengers who booked on canceled or delayed cruises.
Reminding passengers of the good times they enjoyed on earlier voyages can keep the focus on positive developments for people who remain interested in cruising but aren’t ready to book yet.
That’s why this email from Celebrity Cruises stands out. The message, sent to repeat passengers and loyalty program members, uses advanced personalization to pull in important data to populate a fond reminiscence about past travels. But beyond its friendly walk down Memory Lane, the email also uses a small but noticeable call to action to prompt the recipients to check out current deals.
As the weeks go on and shopper focus switches from seeking reassurance to getting back on board, cruise marketing should evolve to nudge browsers into booking. Promoting deals and low prices to spur bookings is one approach, as Royal Caribbean demonstrates:
Notice something unusual about that Royal Caribbean email? It shows the real-time weather report for the next 5 days in the Bahamas, one of the destinations featured in the email.
But here’s something you don’t see: Every time the email recipient opens the message, she’ll see an updated forecast, no matter how long after the company sent the email.
Real-time dynamic content that updates content at the moment of open is more than an interesting “nice to have” feature. It’s a critical tool for any industry in which everything can change in just a few seconds, from schedules and offers to regulations and operating conditions.
It’s also one of the recommendations in Liveclicker’s guide to help marketers save time and money by reducing the steps needed to build and send highly personalized and effective email campaigns.
Download your copy of Email Marketing for Cruise Lines: Finding the Layline to Success through Personalization to learn how advanced personalization, adaptive content and moment-of-open technology can help cruise marketers can send email with confidence and give passengers and shoppers a better email experience without adding team members spending precious time building and sending follow-up email campaigns.
These recommendations will help you strengthen relationships and drive business in today’s turbulent journey and shore up your foundation as you move into your “next normal.” May it come with fair winds and following seas!