How celebrity endorsements sell holidays – 14 Dec 2006

Whether it’s Kate Moss carrying a £3.99 bag from Superdrug or Paris Hilton with the latest mobile phone, celebrity endorsements pay big dividends.

Travel companies are increasingly using celebrities to promote their products, and agents can use this to help sell holidays by keeping track of who is going where.

Princess Cruises has worked with a number of celebrities, most recently model and TV presenter Lisa Snowdon.

Head of brand marketing Pieter van der Schee said: “We know from research that the important factors in choosing a cruise are recommendation from family, friends and travel agents, as well as press coverage – particularly highlighting celebrities with whom customers have an affinity.

“Princess passengers are lively, outgoing and they like glamour, so when they see celebrities such as Lisa Snowdon taking a Princess cruise they learn that is what they will get with Princess,” he said.

Virgin Atlantic also cashes in on its celebrity contacts, as well as its high-profile owner Richard Branson.

“Richard is a great asset for the airline and his presence at media events help to make them a success,” said PR manager Anna Knowles.

Travel companies carefully select the celebrity to fit in with their brand and customer profile. “We are keen to work with celebrities who appeal to our core audience and are on an attainable level, rather than ‘A’ list stars who have a lifestyle most people will never attain,” said van der Schee.

It’s important to judge whether the customer has an affinity with that celebrity – saying Britney Spears stayed at a certain hotel is just as likely to put some people off.


The model’s view

So what did Lisa Snowdon really think of her cruise and how can you use her endorsement (see box, right) when selling? We found out:

What was the perception of cruising you had before the trip and how did this change after the trip?

I did some filming on Sea Princess in conjunction with the launch and the Cannes Film Festival last year, but did not go on a cruise.

Sea Princess was rather glamorous, but I did not know what to expect. This year I went on the maiden voyage of Princess Cruises’ new ship, Crown Princess, from New York to the Caribbean and it was lovely. My friend, TV presenter Michelle Merkinand I really enjoyed life onboard – sail-away drinks on the deck and great dining, treatments at the divine Lotus spa, relaxing at the Sanctuary and of course, dancing the night away at Skywalker’s nightclub.

How did you find the cruise compared to land-based holidays – what aspects were better or worse?

It was very different – both have their merits but the cruise kind of offered the best of both worlds.

How did the other passengers react to having a celebrity on the ship?

Everyone was so dressed up to the nines that it was like being at a premier. To be honest the real stars were the captain and the commodore.

What was the best moment of the trip?

Michelle and I went ‘helmet diving’, whichmeans we could dive without having to take a full diving course. It was an absolutely amazing experience.


Selling points

How to make the most of Lisa’s endorsement

  1. Mention Lisa to clients who will identify with her – younger, female clients interested in relaxing as well as lively entertainment. Bring up the fact that Lisa enjoyed the spa and the nightclub. Cruising isn’t just for older people.
  2. Lisa said she found the cruise glamorous and liked the fact that everyone dressed up in the evenings. Her links with Hollywood and George Clooney mean she will appeal to a customer’s aspirational side. And this is also a good way to mention the outdoor cinema on Princess ships called Movies Under the Stars.
  3. Seeing lots of different islands, going helmet diving and a couple of days shopping in New York, Lisa enjoyed the variety of activities on offer. Use this to get across the fact that acruise can combine several holidays in one. Also, use her experience to entice customers to book extra nights in New York before or after the cruise, particularly with the dollar offering such good value at the moment.
  4. Lisa went with her friend – use this as a selling point of cruises for friends looking for a fun getaway. Cruises aren’t just for couples.

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