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Dear Colleagues:

All Aboard! Are you ready for some R&R? With December vacations and New Year's Eve behind us, vacations will still be high budget priorities for many in 2012.

As consumers of hospitality and travel, we are bombarded with offers for hotels, experiences and vacation packages. The options vary from destinations around the U.S. and virtually anywhere in the world with land and sea passages, day and night time entertainment, family or kid-friendly offers versus adult-centered, and more.

Those who follow the industry for either pleasure or business may read one of numerous trade and consumer media sources featuring reviews and articles about trends and nuanced offerings. Still millions may learn about a vacation opportunity from other life style, business or news media sources.

With so many competing offers, this issue of Marketing Coach features perspectives from communications executives at Celebrity Cruises and its parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., about the strategies and tactics they use to position and promote their brand(s).  

Wishing you smooth sailing in 2012. Enjoy!


In This Issue

The Luxe Vacation: Celebrity Cruises
PR's Role to Build the Business
Winning PR Campaigns


"...aims to 
immerse reporters 
in the experience 
by getting them 
to come aboard 
the ship for a firsthand experience or create 
land-based experiences 
that bring the brand 
to life"

- Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

Position & Promote the High Seas

The Luxe Vacation: Celebrity Cruises


We caught up with Celebrity Cruises Vice President of Marketing, Lisa Kauffman for a discussion of timely topics on travel marketing with a luxury twist.

 

Rational and emotional factors guide travel decisions

Kauffman describes travel decisions as guided by rational: people think about where they want to go, which is the entry point to cruise planning, and emotional: "simultaneously, what emotional benefits I will receive when I take my vacation, which is a big driver of the type of vacation they'll purchase." According to Kauffman, the emotional benefits people consider in the vacation space (don't think of just cruising) are:

1) an escape from day to day responsibilities, 2) feeling relaxed and restored, 3) doing what they feel like, and 4) knowing everyone in the travel party will be happy.

She states that the decision drivers for cruisers include "hassle-free" and ease of a cruise, the fact it's easy to see lots of great places, have great food and accommodations, and have a great value. "There are some people who can't get their mind wrapped around a cruise, so she finds that "vacationers are either open to it (cruising) or not."

"Modern luxury" differentiates this brand

The cruise line competitive set is the broader vacation space. Kauffman believes that Celebrity Cruises provides "an unmatchable escape from other land or sea vacation options." She describes the brand strategy as "modern luxury." "In the cruise space, there is not another cruise brand that delivers on the concept of modern luxury: modernity of ship design, the way service is delivered, quality of food, food choices and restaurant ambiance." Hence, she declares this brand positioning of modern luxury to be "very differentiating."

Celebrity conducted extensive ad testing before bringing a new positioning and campaign into the market, and "modern luxury" had the strongest correlation for driving preference and consideration for the brand. Since running this ad campaign online, their click-throughs, recall rates and positivity about the brand in consumer print are finding a better response than some previously successful campaigns. The collateral and advertising features the words and images that tell this story with their beautiful ships and destinations.

Celebrity attracts luxury shoppers

Affording a vacation requires a certain level of affluence with a household income that makes vacations affordable and the position in life where vacation time is possible. In the case of Celebrity's modern luxury, "it resonates with consumers that have chosen other types of luxury in their lifestyle, such as staying at more contemporary luxe hotels and iPad users," Kauffman explains. They attract people who are interested in "updated takes on luxury experiences."   She describes their vacation consumers as having a mindset that is "young at heart" and interested to try and explore new things. Celebrity's target consumers profile is based on- psychographics, including confidence, optimism, and a propensity to be an adapter of technology, i.e. devices, smart phones, social media.

 

Vacationers are online

"About 79% of people are planning travel online, so online media is huge," said Kauffman. "At the same time consumer magazines are relevant, because our target customer still subscribes to magazines for their hobbies and passions: especially travel and culinary."

 

No major changes in marketing and PR strategy in this economy

It turns out that even in some of the most challenging economic times, people take their vacations. Celebrity's research confirmed that consumers still prioritize taking a vacation regardless of how they feel about their financial situation. "People will continue to protect their vacation time and budget," she explains.

Coincidentally, Celebrity re-launched their Captain's Club loyalty program in 2009. Kauffman calls it the "perfect thing to do," as it created an opportunity to reconnect more strongly with "guests who know and love us." She observes the marketing principal that retention is easier than acquiring new customers and finds the combination of direct marketing and other loyalty programs to be particularly effective.

They launched the modern luxury brand positioning this year and found it to be very well received. The company introduced its first Solstice Class ship in 2008, which embodies modern luxury, and have since packaged this branding in their marketing. According to Kauffman, all product delivery and marketing have been integrated and focused since the branding launch, and it is working out very well.

PR's Role to Build the Business


Public relations in travel and hospitality, as in most sectors, is driven by objectives for companies and brands based on their audience demographics..

In the case of Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. (RCCL), PR colleagues report that the overall objectives are to increase visibility of the company's brands -- Celebrity, Royal Caribbean International, Azamara Club Cruises and Pullmantur -- among cruisers who may be less familiar about the benefits of cruising as a vacation alternative. The PR function at RCCL aims to increase the visibility of each of the company's brands with customers in North America, where about half of RCCL cruise consumers live, as well as prospects around the world. Although the company has a 40-year history, cruising is considered a relatively new vacation option in many international markets, representing a significant opportunity.  

To bring the RCCL cruise experience to life, the PR function aims to immerse reporters in the experience by getting them to come aboard the ship for a firsthand experience or create land-based experiences that bring the brand to life. When targeted at the right demographic, a big PR win is a direct link between media coverage, PR events and cruise bookings.   

The time of year determines the demographic target, which in turn helps guide the optimal media mix for outreach. Some of the factors considered when developing stories are the destinations and optimal timing, such as school vacations and graduations, family/multigenerational vacations, cold winter getaways, weddings and honeymoons, anniversaries or other celebratory occasions.

Winning PR Campaigns

For the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas launch, a Red Carpet premiere event was held onboard the ship with James Brolin and Jenny McCarthy. These celebrities directed and starred in two mini-feature films taped onboard: Allure of Love, Royal Reunion, followed with a Twitter Party. They made full use of the product: ship and amenities had supporting role.

To bring Celebrity Cruises' new Celebrity Silhouette ship to life in a high traffic setting, the Celebrity 3D Street Art campaign created a Celebrity experience with a dynamic 3-D chalk art landscape in Manhattan's Wall Street neighborhood featuring art of the amenities of the Lawn Club of the ship coming into NY's harbor.

Other high profile ways Royal Caribbean generates publicity include having the Today Show'sHoda and Kathie Lee broadcast from a ship and demonstrate the ship experience by participating in many of the activities, venues, and services on board. In the case of Azamara, the cruise line will have a ship at the Formula One Grand Prix in Monte Carlo and another stationed at Carnaval in Brazil. And, for all lines, when new ships are launched, media attends big onboard parties timed with pre-inaugural promotions.

Marketing Coach is a publication of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc.

ICCC helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through

brand building, public relations and strategic communications.To find out how ICCC can

help you and your company build your reputation contact ivy@ivycohen.com,

call 212-399-0026 or visit www.ivycohen.com.

 

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