Using a Setback as a Marketing Tool
We signed up for a six-day cruise from New York to Nassau, Bahamas, over Labor Day. Normally we are not cruise people unless the itinerary is fascinating. But a good offer came from Norwegian Cruise Line, and my wife, Peggy, took it. We knew it would be hurricane season, but we figured if a storm hit, the ship would go somewhere else. We could take a train to New York and avoid the hassle of flying (for a change).
On Aug. 13 and 14 we received a phone call and e-mail announcing a revision in the itinerary:
Due to unscheduled maintenance on the ship's propulsion system, Norwegian Spirit will cancel the call to Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas and instead overnight in Nassau, Bahamas. Please be assured that our technical issue in no way impacts the safe operation of the vessel.
We were given the option of canceling the cruise with no penalty. Those who opted to remain would receive a $50-per-cabin credit for any expenditure on shipboard excluding service charges and casino. OK.
On Aug. 29, two days before we sailed, word came via phone and e-mail that Tropical Storm Hanna was headed for the Bahamas and we would be detoured to Bermuda. OK.
What does this have to do with PR, pricing and marketing?
"Whatever you say, however you say it, however you present it, first ask, 'Does this make sense to the customer?'" wrote the great direct marketing teacher and practitioner Joan Throckmorton.
"Due to unscheduled maintenance on the ship's propulsion system, Norwegian Spirit will cancel the call to Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, and instead overnight in Nassau, Bahamas," Craig Gladding e-mailed me. "Please be assured that our technical issue in no way impacts the safe operation of the vessel."
Duh. Clearly Norwegian Cruise Lines would not send 2,000 passengers and a crew of 950 to sea on a $500 million ship that might sink or stop dead in the water. However, if I were told I'd be flying on a jet airplane that required some "unscheduled maintenance on the propulsion system," I'd opt out.