Written by: Kuki
Almost a decade ago Carnival created a new position; naming their Senior Cruise Director, John Heald, Brand Ambassador.
John is incredibly popular, and he and his team maintain a strong presence with his popular blog, as well as his Facebook page.
In the time since John’s appointment as Brand Ambassador, as the use of the Internet has grown exponentially, an army (hundreds, if not thousands) of brand ambassadors have been created, without any official appointments or relationships to the cruise lines.
My own position with CruiseMates came into being due to the Internet. Almost by accident, I began with Cruise Critic, hosting live chats about cruising, and monitoring their forums. Then moving to join with Paul Motter and Anne Campbell, when they first started CruiseMates.
In the early days of both sites, the most common type of visitors was first time cruisers, looking for information, as well as a small mix of more experienced cruisers. The most common types of posts on the forums were questions ; simply searching for information, and people returning from cruises, who, for one reason or another, were displeased, and looking for a place to share their complaints.
Initially people were simply more willing to post their negative thoughts and experiences, than they were to speak on public forums about their positive experiences.
In the past decade the broadening commonality of people using the Internet has led to an explosion of user driven content; reviews, forum and social media posts, cruise related web sites (both commercial and personal), and personal Blogs.
The cruise lines were somewhat slow to join “the game”. But they now embrace it, and direct many resources to driving their presence, through their own web sites, blogs, and all of the various social media outlets available, to drive their message.
Brand loyalty is, of course, of considerable importance to any company. And, over years the cruise lines have generally been quite successful maintaining that brand loyalty. More recently, as cruise related websites, forums, social media sites, and blogs have grown in popularity, the cruise lines have most certainly noticed.
The difference between their own web sites and social media presence, and all of those privately owned and operated, is the cruise lines are less able to control the message.
Where, initially those with complaints about the cruise lines were more vocal about expressing their complaints, today it is amazing how many more people are willing, and ready quite fervently spend their time writing very detailed reviews, and report their positive experiences, and their brand loyalty, through all the outlets I’ve mentioned earlier.
In fact, these brand loyalists may sometimes go to extremes to defend their choice of cruise lines, and to spend considerable energy deflecting complaints about their cruise line of choice.
So, where brand loyalty used to be limited to enthusiasts sharing their experiences by word of mouth, and by booking future cruises, with all the public outlets that exist today, rather than simply being brand loyalists they have all very much become fairly important public brand ambassadors. And, again, the cruise lines have taken notice, and will indeed even attempt to cater to those they see with growing voices.
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Posted: July 22nd, 2014 under Kuki.