The Challenge: How to Fill a Cruise Ship
The Old Rules of Marketing Apply OnlineVol. 7, Issue No. 7 | May 3, 2011 By Denny Hatch
IN THE NEWS
From Subject Date
Norwegian Today only! Exclusive 6:44 AM
Cruise Line Norwegian Epic Bonus
Club ABC One-Day Sale! – 10:46 AM
Tours Norwegian Epic
—Denny Hatch’s Yahoo! Inbox, April 12, 2011
A number of years ago, we took a terrific Norwegian Cruise Lines tour of the Baltic—St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen. The company kept us on its roster of customers. We became “Latitudes Insider” members.
On her office computer a couple of years later, my wife Peggy received a last-minute “Latitudes” offer from Norwegian Cruise Lines at a time when we seriously needed a break. Clicking on the offer, she discovered not only a 7-day Bahamas cruise, but also an upgrade to a suite for very little additional money—tiny bedroom with separate sitting room and balcony. She booked it. If one of us wanted to read while the other slept late or napped, the layout was perfect. What’s more, Norwegian Cruise Lines treats its suite buyers to extra services: exclusive access to private dining areas, concierge service, mini-bar, etc. We returned to New York from the Caribbean thoroughly refreshed.
Over the years, we have booked Club ABC Tours, a company that can buy all-inclusive upmarket travel at very good prices and pass the savings on to its customers.
On April 12, I found identical offers four hours apart from both of these companies—a one-day sale for myriad cruises on Norwegian Epic.
Of course, I opened them.
The ABC offer was off the wall—gibberish.
I noodled around the Norwegian Cruise Line offer and felt the offers were so-so.
“The right offer should be so attractive,” said the great Claude Hopkins, “that only a lunatic would say no.”
I abandoned the hunt.
The Massive Challenge of Cruise Ship Marketing
Cruise ships are huge and costly. According to my arithmetic, the average Norwegian Cruise ship has a capacity of 2,394 passengers and an operating cost of $3.4 million a week.
The operating cost of Norwegian’s entire fleet of 11 ships—with a total capacity of 26,334 passengers—is an estimated $37.5 million a week.
That’s a lot of orders just to break even.
Let’s Dispose of Club ABC Quickly.
I clicked on the ABC offer and the landing page was exactly the same as the HTML email—a photo of Norwegian Epic and the promise, “Get $100 to spend on board plus reduced deposit.”
Takeaways to Consider
- When you send an email offer, always have a dedicated landing page FOR THAT SPECIFIC OFFER. If prospects land on a general home page and are forced to rummage around for the offer they just read, they will be gone in a wink.
- Online marketers, always remember: You are a mouse click away from oblivion.
- I’m a very impatient guy with a poor attention span. When I click on a picture of the library at Ephesus and the caption “Eastern Mediterranean,” I want cruises to Greece and Turkey—not a pitch for a program that I am already a member of. The Web people created a disconnect. I zapped it.
- For publication renewals, effort No. 1 should be the very best offer, and it should be proclaimed as such—with fanfare.
- The reason: If the subscriber ignores the first effort and a better offer comes along later, it’s an excuse to wait and see if the offers keep getting better and better. In the world of magazine renewals, a certain number of savvy subscribers compare renewal offers and hang onto the best offer in the series (after all, they are still receiving grace copies, even though the subscription is up). When the magazine ceases to arrive, they rummage through the collection of letters and go with the best offer. Or they go online and see if they get an even better offer.
- How many renewal efforts are sent? Quite simply, you keep sending them until either the customer tells you to stop or breakeven is passed and they cease to be profitable.
- “The consumer isn’t a moron,” wrote the late David Ogilvy. “She is your wife.” And given this lousy economy, consumers are being very choosy.
- “The right offer should be so attractive that only a lunatic would say no.” —Claude Hopkins
- “Sell what you got.” —Franklin Watts
- My advice to Web marketers: Hire some computer-savvy at-home folks and run your marketing efforts by them before going live. For example, they would have caught the Club ABC Tours screw-up and 1) very likely more than paid for themselves, as well as 2) saving Club ABC from looking like jerks.