SINGAPORE – Once the preserve of retirees, cruises are gaining popularity among the young.
And when it comes to attracting them, there’s no one size that fits all.
For its superhero-themed cruises, Genting ran video campaigns on digital social platforms such as Facebook, WeChat, Weibo and Instagram as well as on print media, which has resulted in “almost fully-booked” sailings
At industry cruise conference CruiseWorld Asia 2019 in Singapore last week, representatives from cruise lines, travel agencies and marketing at the panel “Not Your Grandparents' Cruise: Marketing to The Young Ones” spoke on their strategies and successes in reaching out to a new generation of cruisers.
At 45.4 years, Asia’s cruise passengers on average are younger than the global average of 47 years, according to research by CLIA. Markets such as India in particular boast a young 37-year-old average, while Indonesia has a 39-year=old average.
To appeal to a younger demographic of cruisers, marketers from cruise lines are pulling out all the stops, from Genting Cruise Lines’ collaboration with DC Comics on a series of Justice League-themed cruises to Royal Caribbean’s catchy call to get potential cruisers to “Swap your weekend” for an action-packed one on board its cruises.
For its superhero-themed cruises, Genting ran video campaigns on digital social platforms such as Facebook, WeChat, Weibo and Instagram as well as on print media, which has resulted in “almost fully-booked” sailings, said Christine Lim, assistant vice president of international marketing, Genting Cruise Lines.
When Royal Caribbean launched its campaign in April, it saw a spike in demand for its three-night voyages, which sells out 20% faster than four-night cruises, said Nicole Lai, head of marketing at Royal Caribbean Cruises (Asia) Pte Ltd.
Next generation of cruisers
Indonesia’s huge population of young consumers, in particular, are becoming interested in cruise holidays.
Panelist Jonathan Jodie, marketing partnership & customer relations manager of Golden Rama Tours & Travel, noted “quite a big interest” from younger millennials.
“They are marking down long weekends on their calendar and looking for shorter and more affordable trips,” Mr Jodie said.
Younger travellers are also buying into the idea of cruising, observed Lai Khe Han, director of TLC Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd, who started his travel agency five years ago that focuses on cruise holidays (more than 80% of their business comes from cruises).
“A younger group of travellers going on cruises and posting about their experiences on Instagram has created a perception of cruises as a luxury lifestyle,” noted Mr Lai.
‘No one size fits all’
But how exactly should cruise marketers speak to the interests and aspirations of millennials?
“I think there’s no one size fits all approach for millennials. Everyone has a different agenda. Some are most focused on the environment that it becomes one of their pre-requisites when they look at travel and reducing their carbon footprint; some just want to go out and get drunk; some like culture and seeing different ports,” said Lavin Vaswani, director of sales for SEA and India of Adara.
“That’s what we need to understand as an industry. It’s a combination of transaction data and third-party data such as behavioural and demographic,” he added.
But if there’s a language that millennials value, it’s authenticity.
“Showing real people having fun is the most important thing that will spur them to buy immediately at first sight. Social media is now mainstream and we’re working to enhance social media marketing through the use of videos,” said Mr Lai.
“For us we use a lot of user-generated content that shows real people in action on our ships. We encourage our cruise passengers to hashtag their posts on social media, and we help to re-share their experience to people,” Ms Lai added.