Pictured: Paul Ludlow, Tony Roberts, David Noyes, Lynn Narraway, Simon Palethorpe, Erin Johnson
P&O tries new way to spot new clients while Princess vows to put people first despite its new tech. Natasha Salmon reports
P&O Cruises is now using psychographics – as well as demographics – to identify new customers.
Psychographics is the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria, as opposed to demographics, which are restricted to the so-called ‘dry facts’ of gender, age, income and marital status.
P&O Cruises UK senior vice‑president Paul Ludlow said: “It’s about identifying what people really want from a holiday and providing that for them.”
He added that while agents were still critical to “getting the right people on the right ship”, P&O Cruises’ goal is “to produce multi-channel communications with positive messages and wide appeal that will increase cruise consideration.
“We are using different channels and ways of communicating to current and potential guests through various media channels (print, online, social, TV etc) to appeal to different mindsets,” Ludlow said.
Sister brands Seabourn and Holland America Line are also using digital marketing to “create interest”, although they stress this still mainly results in customers booking through an agent due to the high quality of service and personal attention they receive face-to-face or over the phone.
UK and Ireland managing director Lynn Narraway revealed that 87% of Seabourn guests and 86% of HAL guests still prefer to book through an agent, even though they are likely to have researched online first.
“Digital marketing creates the interest, which hands the opportunity to the agent,” she said.
Princess Cruises UK vicepresident Tony Roberts agreed that digital was playing an increasingly important part in the research and decision-making process for buying a cruise, and he predicted that “online bookings will continue to grow”.
He did not say what proportion of bookings came via agents, but said: “We work proactively with agents to support them in all channels with content and materials that help them sell Princess Cruises.”
‘Tech can enhance cruises but won’t replace people’
Customer experience will always outweigh onboard technology, according to Carnival bosses.
In January, Princess Cruises unveiled Ocean Medallion, its wearable technology that will connect passengers to onboard facilities, track their meal orders and automatically unlock their cabins as they approach the door.
A month earlier, Holland America Line (HAL) unveiled its digital destination guides, Explorations Central, which include videos, ebooks and maps that customers, and agents, can access before, during and after their trip.
Seabourn and HAL UK managing director Lynn Narraway said: “Technology is transforming the cruise experience. It’s important, but personalisation is key.
“We need the technology to help and enhance the experience – but never to replace the people.”
Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice-president for the UK and Europe, agreed. “We’re clear that technology is a means to an end, not the end in itself, and the Ocean Medallion initiative is all about improving our guest experience,” he said. “Ocean Medallion will establish a new level of personalised guest experiences, not just for the cruise industry, but for the entire holiday market.
“The customer experience will continue to evolve and become even more personalised and the technology will need to develop to support that.”
Erin Johnson, Carnival Cruise Line’s marketing director for the UK and Ireland, said she was keen to focus on making booking technology work for agents.
“We are working with our agent partners to make sure we provide marketing collateral and advice that can be easily translated in both print and digital form,” she said.
“We are also looking at re‑energising our booking portal for the trade to make the process easier for the agent, and at making the information they need about Carnival to help them learn more about the brand, and book, more accessible.”
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