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Royal Caribbean’s Maria Polo-Gonzalez on Rich Media for Web Sites

June 2006 By Irene Cherkassky
Ahead of this summer’s launch of its newest and, thus far, largest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, cruise marketer Royal Caribbean International had a launch of another sort. A year ahead of the ship’s maiden voyage, the marketer debuted its www.freedomoftheseas.com mini Web site. Available as part of its main Web site, www.royalcaribbean.com, the mini site also was made available to Royal Caribbean trade partners for use on their Web sites—that is, the travel agents who then could market the new experience to customers looking for their next vacation option. Incorporating full-motion video and audio, and featuring three-dimensional renderings of the ship’s features, the site recently won a Webby Award for Best Use of Video or Moving Image. Maria Polo-Gonzalez, manager of interactive experience for the Royal Caribbean brand, spoke with Target Marketing on the value and process of creating a memorable rich media Web experience for its customers and partners.

Target Marketing: What was the primary goal behind the development of the www.freedomoftheseas.com mini Web site?
Maria Polo-Gonzalez: Our primary goal was to create awareness with our trade partners and our consumers for the new ship. Usually, we execute a lot of inaugural events where we invite our top producer travel agents and key consumers to experience the ship. But we wanted to create awareness way before the ship was built, and that was the whole purpose of the Web site.

We always try to move our booking window farther out. We don’t want people to have to wait to see the ship in order to decide that they want to book on it. So the idea was to create that [onboard] experience. We also noticed in previous inaugural events the awe of really walking onto the ship and seeing the public spaces, looking up and seeing the art, the lights, the whole environment.

We did a whole integrated marketing campaign … via collateral material, TV, online advertising, a lot of press, and a lot of events gearing up to the launch of the ship. We did a lot of events on the West Coast. For example, one of the things unique to the ship is the FlowRider [surfing ride]. So we took people to the FlowRider installation in San Diego to see what it was like. We also created the [FlowRider] experience on the Web site.
 

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