By Mitra Sorrells | January 31, 2019
The cruise industry is in a period of record growth. Nearly every line is building new ships – and counting on new-to-cruise travelers to fill those cabins. As cruise industry marketers work to bring that wish to fruition, data from a recent report provides valuable insight to steer their strategies.
According to MMGY Global’s 2018-2019 Portrait of American Travelers study, which surveyed nearly 3,000 adults in the United States who have taken at least one trip over the past 12 months, millennials are showing the most interest in cruising compared to other generations. Fifty-six percent of millennials, defined in the survey as those born after 1979, say they are interested in taking a cruise in the next two years.
That puts them ahead of the category typically thought of as the target cruise audience – what the survey calls “matures,” defined as those born before 1946 – and several percentage points ahead of Generation X travelers and baby boomers.
Comparatively, in MMGY’s 2014 report, only 40% of millennials said they wanted to cruise in the next two years.
“Our numbers show the millennial segment having the most growth in spending power overall in travel, even above and beyond these other segments – the Xers, the boomers and the matures. That’s not specific to cruise, but it shows the opportunity,” says Rebekah Bell, director of strategy and accounts for MMGY Global, which also provides marketing services to Princess Cruises and Cunard Line.
“This is the audience that is not the 18-year-old in your basement. This is an audience that is in their thirties, maybe has a family, has full buying power.”
Reaching this audience, says Bell, requires thinking about how they consume media and creating more rich content, more social media engagement and using alternative channels such as podcasts.
As an example, Bell points to Cunard’s recent partnership with British Vogue, aimed at highlighting the line’s annual transatlantic fashion cruise.
“Vogue being the powerhouse that it is produced a lot of content for them and promoted it in the social media space,” Bell says. “That allowed Cunard to open their following of slighter older audiences to potentially a millennial audience or younger people interested in fashion. That’s a really smart move.”
What matters most
Along with demographic shifts, MMGY found the features that influence travelers to purchase a cruise have changed in the past few years.
In the 2015 report, the first year MMGY began measuring this category, the most influential factor across all age categories was “ports of call/available itineraries.”
But in the latest report, cabin quality and quality of food onboard tied for first as the most influential features, with ports of call/available itineraries third on the list.
“People are cruising for different reasons,” Bell says.
“I also think it’s reflecting the myriad of information that is available to the traveler. They want to make sure everything is right.”
The message for cruise lines: the onboard experience is critical. And that means marketing content needs to showcase things such as food, entertainment and cabin features.
“You are not just going to be able to promote your destinations or your excursions,” she says.
Where to go
Regarding destinations, MMGY found clear generational preferences.
The Caribbean is still the top destination overall, but when the data is segmented by age, mature travelers pick Europe as their top choice followed by the Mediterranean.
Bell says this is reflective of the “generational cycling” that is happening in the cruise industry. When those mature travelers were younger and newer to cruise, they too likely picked the Caribbean, whereas now they have “been there, done that,” says Bell, and so they seek cruises to more unique ports of call.
While most cruise inventory is in the Caribbean – suitable for attracting those millennial travelers – brands that want to target more mature travelers should market their unique itineraries and destinations to catch their attention.
The cruise industry, nowadays has had a very evident growth, almost all cruise companies are building new ships and opening new sales markets.
In order to know the profile of the consumer, a survey was conducted in which millennials are the most interested in this travel option becoming the target audience of the cruise ships.
Through different reports made in past years, to understand the interests of users, they pointed out that the relevant factors depend on each age, as well as the itineraries, ports, but for the last report, two factors were included: quality of the cabin and the quality of the food.
The cruise ships have decided to offer tourist destinations, according to the age of the passengers, with the purpose of offer a personalized travel experience.
- Cruise industry is constantly growing, therefore, there could exist more competition in all companies that offer this service.
- There will be more options for consumers who wish to access a trip on board a cruise.
- The reports made allow knowing the behavior of the consumers, as well as their travel preferences.
- The cruises offer services within the boat, in a personalized way for their clients, in an innovative way.
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