Holland America Line: New Partnerships, New Branding, New Investments
Open Jaw by Bruce Parksinson
Something old. Lots of things new.
In the tradition-soaked setting of New York City’s Explorers
Club, where members have included everyone from Charles Lindbergh to Elon Musk,
the 142 yr. old Holland America Line announced a series of thoroughly modern
partnerships, a major ship enhancement program and a new logo and tagline.
The ‘Signature of Excellence’ tagline that has been
an integral part of the line’s branding for the past decade will be retired in January. The new line is
‘Savor The Journey’ – a journey that begins, says President Orlando Ashford,
long before passengers board a ship.
As the ‘current custodian’ of the 142 yr. old Holland
America brand, Ashford has spent the 1
st year of his tenure working
with his team to create a plan for the future without abandoning the ‘classic
style’ that is a brand hallmark. “We want to do the things we’ve always done,
but do them bigger and better,” Ashford said. “We have always specialized in
enriching journeys, and that concept is key to today’s announcements.”
Several announcements were made during the event, including
a $300 million budget for improvements to the line’s fleet of 15 ships between
2016 and 2018. Of that figure, $40 million will be dedicated to enhancing the
line’s suite accommodations.
But it was a series of partnerships announced by HAL that
captured much of the attention.
Ashford says HAL wants to help cruisers “dream, plan and
choose,” before setting off on their voyage. To that end, it has partnered with
travel publisher Afar, which has been tasked to create comprehensive
destination guides for each of the 400 ports HAL ships visit. A 2
partnership is with travel planning website Utrip, which produces personalized
itineraries for travellers based on their stated preferences and interests.
When the partnerships are fully functional, Ashford says
they will offer HAL customers “the most interactive tool in the cruise
industry.” The Utrip algorithms will help travellers select shore excursions in
each port, recommended after they rate their interests using sliders with
labels like ‘Contemporary Life,’ ‘History,’ ‘Art,’ ‘Food & Wine’ and more.
“The goal is to create a unique experience for each traveller,” said Gilad
Berenstein, the youthful founder of Utrip.
A 3rd partnership focuses on shipboard
enrichment, this one with BBC Earth, the world’s largest producer of natural
history content. That partnership will take the form of things like quiz shows,
programming for young guests, big screen entertainment, themed cruises and even
a live show where BBC Earth’s natural history footage will be accompanied by
Ashford says HAL clients are “active, sophisticated and
curious,” and the partnerships will feed into those motivations.
The new ‘Savor The Journey’ tagline and a simplified logo –
without the retro sailing ship – reflects “an evolution, not a revolution” for
HAL’s public face, Ashford says. “We have a loyal, dedicated fan base, but
we’ve been pretty quiet. We’re getting louder,” says Ashford. “We want our
guests to lean back and enjoy the cruise, and lean in and immerse themselves in
Sally Andrews, HAL’s V.P. of Public Relations, says the new
partnerships, along with the upcoming launch of the innovative
is good news for agents. “The Afar and Utrip partnerships will result in great
new tools for the trade, to help their clients tailor their travel. It’s an
opportunity to enhance our relationship with the trade.”