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Cruise Brand Loyalists

Written by: Kuki

How often do you overhear friends and neighbors arguing about which supermarket is the best?

How often do you hear friends discussing which brand of toilet paper is best?

How often do you hear people telling their friends they should really drive a Toyota instead of an Oldsmobile?

The answers is… rarely

How often do you hear people telling other people what cruise line they should sail? The answer seems to be… all the time.

It is almost comical - the extremes some cruisers will go to in an attempt to prove their choice in cruise lines is the best choice.

It is common for people who find the cruise company product that suits them the best, to decide that company will be best suited to everyone. And that anyone unwilling it to try it is making the wrong decision.

I’ve personally been able to sail many different brands over the years, because of my position with CruiseMates – from mainstream to ultra luxury. Of the mass market lines my current favorites are Carnival and NCL.

By no means do I want to insist they are the best for everyone. It’s just that their style suits me.

I get many, many people asking me what is the best cruise line is. If honest, I’d always say, in my opinion, Crystal or Siversea. Of course, many people say “they’d love to try them, but they are too expensive”.

I can never look into some-one’s “wallet”. and tell them they can afford it, because they’ll get better value, and they should give it a try.

If someone can afford it and wants to try many different cruise brands, I say great! It’s wonderful to have all sorts of different experiences. But, if they found a cruise line they know they really enjoy, I’d never want to suggest there are “better choices” if they’d just listen to me, and spend more of their money.

The brand loyalty is what each of the cruise lines rely on, and they attempt to build on that with their loyalty programs. And when you talk to people about why they like a loyalty program, they will almost always say, it’s the “value” they feel they receive from the perks. And, of course, it has to follow, on the Internet message boards there’s always arguments about which cruise line offers the best “perks” in their loyalty programs.

Larry Pimental, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises tweeted (@LarryPimental):

“Know your #customers! Trust in relationships is key for #luxury purveyors. Same as in all relationships.  Win their hearts and win it all!”

Yes, what he says is true of customers for most any product; especially service related products. But, with cruisers, if  you “win their hearts”, you are not only winning their loyalty, you’re also building an army of brand ambassadors.

In the past decade the broadening commonality of people using the Internet has led to an explosion of user driven content; reviews, message board posting, social media.

In the early days of CruiseMates it was much more common for those who were disgruntled to post to vent about their experience, than it was for those with positives; they just came home happy.

But in today’s world it is amazing how many people simply want to, and will take the time to write and post detailed reviews (and do so on every site they can find), create their own detailed websites, Blogs, etc. about their trips. They are also very quick to defend or deflect pretty much any criticism of their favored cruise line; sometimes to a fault.

The importance of the army of brand ambassadors the cruise lines can create has grown exponentially because of all these developments. As far as cruising is concerned, the invisible majority has become much more visible, and therefore much more important to the cruise line’s bottom line.

The cruise lines should have always known their customers were important, but in today’s world, where word of mouth really does travel faster than the speed of light, it’s even more crucial. They had better “win their hearts”!

An army of brand ambassadors made up of product users can have a much broader reach than any District Sales Manager.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

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Comments

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time June 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

Oldsmobile has gone by the wayside, as has Mercury Saturn and Pontiac – not that this is a putdown, it is similar to what can and has happened in the cruise industry.

I seldom, ok, sometimes I do, offer a tad of advice regarding a specific ship or cruise line, however what I find particularly funny are the well meaning cruisers that aske me what my favorites were, ship or line, and often it is one that like the automobiles, are defunt, never to be liked again.

It is also interesting to note how many cruise loving passengers have never heard of a by gone line, yet, they hold true affection for the ones they have been sailing.

Similarly, a car may be used, and the ships from past cruise lines may in fact be used and still sailing. The analogies are quite striking.

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