This cruise was an excellent business lesson in how not to:
Maintain customer loyalty
Maintain your brand image
Obtain repeat business
As a Sales and Marketing professional, I am flabbergasted at how RCCL handled this. Traditionally, it costs 5X as much to get a new customer as it does to maintain an existing customer. For every dissatisfied customer, they will tell on average ten of their friends. In this case, that has been multiplied many times with the press coverage in New York City and the Today Show interview with the couple who had planned their wedding in Bermuda.
Let's do the math. If , for example, RCCL had offerred we passengers a $250 credit applied to a future cruise, it would have given them a maximum $750,000 liability against revenue on future cruises, assuming 3,000 passengers . If we assume that only 50% of the passengers in this particular cruise did rebook on a future RCCL cruise, then the liability would have been $375,000. That liability would have been incurred only with a paying repeat customer. Additionally, RCCL could have made some offers to the couples that were getting married to help them out (i.e. offerring to fly them to Bermuda or some alternate arrangement. That might have cost RCCL another $25,000-$50,000). If RCCL had done all of this, a lot of the anger that we felt would have been alleviated. As for the couples who had planned weddings in Bermuda, if RCCL had done everything they could for them, perhaps there could have been a Today Show segment showing how RCCL took a bad situation and turned it into a positive. RCCL woud have been heroes and this PR
would have been worth a heck of a lot more than the millions RCCL is spending on their commercials.
Instead, RCCL took a hard, legalistic line regarding customer compensation (i.e. "Look at your contract." "You paid for the ship, not the destination.") After a lot of pressure from their passengers, Mr. Goldstein, RCCL President, offerred a $45.20 credit per passenger to offset port taxes. That cost RCCL $135,000 in immediate cash receipts.
At the end of the day, RCCL is gambling that people will forget this incident. They paid us $135,000 in credit that was more of an insult than a positve. For another $265,000 to $290,000, RCCL could have been garnered a lot of positive PR
So now, how much will RCCL have to give up in discounted fares this Fall as word spreads on how we passengers were treated on this cruise, and as passengers from the Northeast fear booking on them for fear of a repeat episode of what happened to us? My guess is that it will cost them a lot more than $265,000 to $290,000.
And, for those of us in the New York metropolitan area, what will go through our minds the next time we see RCCL's television commercial on TV? So much for protection of RCCL's brand image.