Despite the recent high-profile cruise ship disaster that took place off the coast of Italy, consumers will still be looking to book passage to their favorite destination. The industry has changed somewhat as a result of the recession and this has implications for marketing. Service providers looking to fill cabins may embark on some new types of promotion in 2012.
The best cruisers have always known that they have to book their cruise during wave season. Discounted cruises have long been promoted between January and March. But the effect of the wave season is not as intense as it once was, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor in chief of CruiseCritic.com. Brown believes cruise operators are facing a market filled with consumers who expect a deal at all times of the year. As a result of this change, cruise providers and travel agents may no longer be spending the largest portions of their marketing budgets during the first quarter. Instead, the spending is likely to be spread out during the year.
Mark Schiffner, vice president and chief operating officer of Cruise Holidays, agrees that up to 60% of Caribbean business comes between January and March, especially as consumers seek the sun and warmer climates. But, the industry has grown on a global basis in recent years. Because cruise ships are likely to have a variety of destinations, the wave season has ‘flattened out.’
Cruise marketers will be allocating their ad budgets throughout the coming year. Specific operators will be promoting discounts from time to time and industry experts believe the growing interest in river cruises will expand from older passengers to younger and more adventurous travelers. These signs all point to strong ad spending in 2012.[Source: Pawlowski, A. Wave Season. Edition.cnn.com. 12 Jan. 2012. Web. 25 Jan. 2012]