By year’s end, MSC Cruises plans to launch a global campaign presenting its new market positioning, according o CEO Gianni Onorato. In an exclusive interview with Cruise Industry News, Onorato said that work was ongoing internally to better clarify the position of the brand and the company in the marketplace. Not only will the campaign position MSC as a cruise brand, it is also intended to tell new customers what the company is all about and what cruising is all about.
“Today, we differentiate ourselves with our hardware and our onboard furnishing,” Onorato said.
“We also differentiate ourselves by our food; our international food offering with an Italian identity, customized to the different operating regions we are in.”
Onorato pointed out the quality of the itineraries, noting that MSC is the only company in the Mediterranean to offer seven ports on a seven-day cruise. He added: “It means we burn more fuel, sailing fast from port to port, but we are willing to do that to let our guests visit more places.
“And we are proud of our award-winning entertainment,” he continued.
“And last but not least, we have partnered with various companies and offer Lego Rooms for the kids on our ships. We are investing in food and entertainment, and we are doing a lot to be seen.”
Much has also been happening behind the scenes since Onorato came aboard two years ago. This spring, MSC completed its so-called four C’s project, hiring four chief executives forming the the basis of a new corporate structure.
Onorato has also shaken up the product department, which included five brand performance director positions. At press time he had filled four them, who have ultimate responsibility for the guest experience aboard those ships.
In addition, MSC has built up a complete training department with new educational programs and plans to hire 6,000 new crew over the next three years.
A new travel agent booking platform, MSC Book, has been rolled out in France, Italy, Germany, the UK, Austria, Switzerland and the U.S. and was scheduled to be launched in Brazil and Argentina in July and in Latin America in late August. Other countries will follow later in 2015 and in 2016.
With seven new ships contracted for deliveries through 2022, MSC’s passenger capacity will grow from an estimated 1.4 million passengers in 2015 to 2.9 million by 2022, according to Cruise Industry News estimates.
While doubling its passenger capacity over the next seven years, Onorato said the strategy is to grow and maintain the company’s leadership in the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe.
Uniquely for MSC as a European company, it is also investing heavily in North America and is looking at developing Asia for one or more ships. In addition, MSC is focused on maintaining its position in the Caribbean with European passengers, in Dubai, and in Brazil where it has five ships this year.
“The key to running a successful cruise brand is innovation,” Onorato said, “to be curious, to listen to our guests through different channels and the people who work for us, and then to implement what we are hearing. We are doing everything around what our guests and our crew are telling us.”
He added: “MSC is an exciting place to work; we are a company that operates outside the box. We are changing how we are doing things. I like to say we are a sexy company today.”