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Expert tips on marketing cruises this year

Effective marketing will help to rebuild consumer confidence in cruising and secure vital bookings. Abra Dunsby gets insider tips from industry experts


With 2020 being a stormy year for the cruise industry and consumer confidence dented by sensationalist media headlines and stringent government advice, agents are going to have to work extra-hard and think creatively when it comes to marketing cruises in 2021.

Agents who combine inspirational content with accurate, up-to-date travel information and reassurance messaging – including cruise lines’ rigorous health and safety protocols and flexible booking policies – will no doubt reap the rewards, converting inevitable pent-up demand for cruise into bookings. Here, we speak to a selection of cruise lines for their guidance on effective marketing this year.

1. Reflect and set goals

“As we start 2021, it’s important to re-evaluate last year. Did 2020 make you think differently? Which goals were achieved and which ones were not? Are there some that could be carried into this year instead, if relevant to the new market conditions?”
Suzanne Korff, director, UK marketing communications, Princess Cruises


2. Focus on reassurance

“When promoting specific sailings, add in any reassuring messages – such as peace of mind and book with confidence – to instil consumer trust.”
Karen Sequeira, marketing director, UK & Ireland, Israel, Middle East & Africa, Norwegian Cruise Line


3. Take care of loyal guests and attract new audiences

“We need to ensure that our communications to loyal guests are still part of the marketing mix, but that there is also an added emphasis on bringing confidence to a new target audience to keep driving that demand for cruise.”
Suzanne Korff, Princess Cruises


4. Tap into trends

“See where there is demand coming in and what the trends are around certain destinations and sailings, then focus on these in your marketing to secure bookings.”
Karen Sequeira, Norwegian Cruise Line


5. Inspire with bucket-list trips

“After months of restrictions, clients are excited about big-ticket purchases and are booking further out than usual. Highlighting an amazing Antarctica expedition or south-east Asia adventure cruise could be just the inspiration your clients need to lock in their 2021 holiday.”

Joanna Reeve, head of business development, Intrepid

6. Highlight holiday savings

“There are many great cruise offers for 2021 and beyond. For example, clients who choose a longer, more leisurely holiday this year or in 2022 by combining two seven-night cruises together will enjoy a special saving with Seabourn.”
Lynn Narraway, managing director UK & Ireland, Seabourn


7. Promote brand values

“It will be more important than ever for the trade to leverage brand values – such as a cruise line’s commitment to sustainability or diversity and inclusion – when marketing to customers, to help them make more of an informed choice when choosing their holiday.”
Jo Vaughton, director of brand marketing and PR, EMEA, Celebrity Cruises


8. Look ahead

“If customers are unsure of booking for 2021, promote 2022! We have launched our 2022 cruises earlier than ever before with great success.”
Helena Hasleham, senior trade marketing executive, Scenic


9. Consider marketing costs

“Maximise on utilising channels that have a low cost and high reach, such as in-house emails and social media.”
Karen Sequeira, Norwegian Cruise Line


10. Adapt and innovate
“With more people working from home going forward, it is important to adapt marketing strategies, and engaging and disruptive digital and social media campaigns will be key. There’s a need to provide a personal touch in communications that could have been lost in this virtual world.”
Jo Vaughton, Celebrity Cruises

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