The Ultimate One-to-One Tool
Carnival's understanding of the way its customers used its site also dictated its choice of a personalization solution. "When you're coming to our site, you're coming for a limited number of weeks," explains Rodriquez-Velazquez. Typically, site visitors come to Carnival.com to do initial research and comparison pricing. They may then come back to book their trip, and visit the site a few more times before they sail. Eventually, they may come to the site as a return customer. "We weren't going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a personalization tool for someone who may visit us between two and 10 times in a very concentrated time range."
To meet Carnival's specific needs, Avenue A/Razorfish used Microsoft's campaign management software in conjunction with its Commerce Server database as the backbone for the personalization feature for the site. "They exploited the database and the profiles and made something that really worked for us," says Rodriquez-Velazquez.
The Personal Touch
Analysis of Carnival's customer base identified three customer segments—prospects, booked guests and past guests. With this, the marketer and interactive agency then worked together to establish the extensive business rules that shaped the design of the site. The entire retooling process took a year, and the revamped site launched in April 2004. Now the site is divided up into a series of quadrants that display relevant content/ campaigns based on the information gleaned from Carnival's customer database.
For prospects, the focus is on creating a dynamic on-site experience that emphasizes Carnival as "The Fun Ships," which is the brand's motto. Carnival wanted to make it very easy for prospects to access information they need. "Our number one goal [was to] provide enough information to make a purchase decision, regardless of the channel that you book," says Rodriquez-Velazquez.
To access pricing information, all visitors are asked to register with the site. Requested information includes name, address, telephone and e-mail address, as well as whether the site visitor has sailed with Carnival in the past. That gets the personalization ball rolling with the system software now able to refer to the passenger's database profile to match content to needs. The registration information allows the marketer to start targeting prospects with geo-specific offers. "If I live in New York and have never been on a cruise before, and I go to the Carnival Web site, I'm going to get a very different experience than someone who lives in Florida, who has been on other Carnival cruises in the past," describes Karen McGrane, executive director, user experience for Avenue A/Razorfish.