The Future of Cruise Brands
Cruise passengers have a strong sense of brand loyalty. The variety and offerings of different cruise lines is diverse, and when guests find a brand they identify with, they will often stick with it. Most cruise lines offer loyalty programs, but these usually fall short of making guests feel that they are part of a club and a community with benefits beyond discounts for future cruises.
Considering this existing loyalty and the tendency for cruise passengers to gravitate toward a certain brand, why do cruises need to be limited to only an experience or vacation? Technology is opening up opportunities for cruise lines to extend their communities well beyond a passenger’s time on a ship. In the future, cruise lines will become lifestyle brands.
Pre-Cruise: More User-Generated Content
Meeting someone initially online is not uncommon these days, and cruise lines will begin to facilitate this for their brands through technology. Before guests even board a ship, they will have the option to connect with each other. Depending on what a passenger chooses for privacy settings and preferences, this could be as specific as being matched with selected guests to attend an event together or as broad as joining a club that will participate in certain activities onboard.
A future cruise passenger will be able to join the chess club, see the rankings, and be paired with their first opponent before the cruise even begins.
During the Cruise: Stronger Social Engagement
As the number of solo cruisers rises, and as vacation-goers increasingly want their time off to involve opportunities to meet like-minded people, cruise lines will use technology to give guests the ability to continue to connect with each other on the cruise. Using the chat feature to communicate with other cruisers, tagging fellow guests in photos, and finding events where there are people with similar interests are just some of the ways that guests will utilize technological resources.
A passenger will be able to meet a fellow scuba diving enthusiast, keep in touch during the cruise via the app, and invite them to a post-extension diving trip.
Post Cruise: Events & Community
The most effective way to foster connection around a cruise brand is to create and build a community beyond just the cruise experience. Cruise lines will begin to offer application and website features for guests to stay in touch after their cruise without having to connect on a separate social media platform. They will engage with guests through community-based events, more robust loyalty programs, and increased opportunities to stay involved in clubs and groups.
A guest will be able to be a member of the yoga club after the cruise, attend an anusara event in their city held by their cruise line months later, coordinate to meet up with someone from the cruise, and even earn shipboard credits for qualifying as a gold member of the loyalty program by participating in these kinds of post-cruise activities.