The goal is to attract more new-to-cruise customers, according to Jim Berra, chief marketing officer of Carnival Cruise Lines. “We are pushing hard, realizing that we are competing among other leisure travel options, not just within the cruise industry. So we are gearing our marketing and product to new-to-cruise and experienced cruisers at the same time.
“We are looking at mind-sets. People who are fun-loving, spirited and outgoing tend to love the Carnival experience. And if we can get a family to cruise with us first, they will come back to us.”
Berra said that the strongest marketing tool is favorable word-of-mouth, convincing new customers of the freedom of choice aboard the ships and the tremendous value of a cruise. But Carnival is also using a host of media opportunities, including TV, advertising and outdoor events.
“We are partnering with leading brands and celebrities,” he added, “reaching performers’ fan bases – and we are reaching out in somewhat unexpected and disruptive ways so we get their attention. We have found these techniques to be more effective as people are more receptive to listen. They tend to tune out traditional advertising,” he continued.
“With three ships in Galveston,” Berra continued, “we have entered into a multiyear partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, allowing us to reach people through their passions and interests. Through the Cowboys we can reach millions of consumers in the Texas market.”
In fact, Carnival has different marketing programs in place for Florida, Texas, New York and the West Coast.
Berra said Carnival was basing its customer experience on three pillars: food and beverage, entertainment, and continuing to step up its game.
“We are continuing to evolve. We are never done,” Berra he said. “Consumers are always expecting something new, something more. We respond by being passionate about what we do and being innovative. The more we expose the consumers to, the more we test, the more we learn. And things we have introduced have resonated well. It is hard to bat 100, but I think we are very close.”
As for further product innovation and development, Berra said that will be driven by being relevant and connecting with new customers.