Advice from Dan Miles business director, Melt Content
2015 is set to be another year of impressive growth for the cruise sector, with Clia predicting 4% growth in the global market.
The UK market has plateaued in recent years. However, with new pension rules giving easy access to funds for one of cruising’s key demographics, the UK market is now looking buoyant.
But there is also increased competition in the retail sector, with non-specialists such as Expedia throwing titanic marketing budgets at consumers that are already experiencing an increasingly fragmented purchase journey.
Success will be harder to come by than ever before for cruise specialists. Here, Dan Miles, business director at Melt Digital, suggests some content marketing tactics for cruise specialist travel agents.
1. Provide content when clients want it
While the average age of cruise passengers has dropped slightly in the past five years, the overwhelming majority are between 50 and 65. This demographic also has the highest penetration of internet and smartphone adoption, with over 80% of over-50s active online.
To appeal to potential cruise customers, it’s important to serve them the right content at the right time.There are more potential cruise customers than ever before and the internet clearly plays an important role in their search for a cruise holiday.
But this role is much more at the early stages of the purchase journey than at the final booking stage. Cruise customers are going online for information and inspiration as well as for reassurance and assistance, accessing content on-the-go and in their periods of downtime.
For agents, it’s important to provide plenty of cruise information online to entice clients at the early stage of the booking process, and also to be there for them on the phone or face-to-face when they want to book.
2. Put mobile at the forefront of your digital activity by using responsive design and mobile-specific microsites
Around 50% of internet-enabled over-50s now have a smartphone and this plays out in one of the key search trends for cruise over the last 12 months: cruise queries from mobile devices grew by 50% in 2014.
But the increase in online activity isn’t translating into big increases in online cruise bookings, certainly not since the Costa Concordia tragedy in 2012, and this is what makes cruise different from airline and hotel bookings. The vast majority of cruise passengers still prefer to make their final booking offline with an agent.
3. Include a phone number to drive offline sales
It is imperative that mobile websites feature a simple call to-book function throughout the navigation – not providing this until customers get to the end of their ‘journey’ online will lose you sales.
Create specific landing pages influenced by a broader keyword strategy, enabling you to make sure the customer experience is tailored to clients’ search journeys.
4. Create content experiences that go from pre-book to on-board
Getting new cruise customers is going to be hard, but keeping them is even harder.
Holistic content experiences that start at the discovery stage and continue on board, such as interactive maps and unique discounts, will help turn your customers into advocates.
Likewise, giving clients shareable and personal content empowers them to take to the social web and do your marketing for you! This can help deliver significant increases in your agency’s organic search ranking, online acquisition and offline bookings.