Holland America’s Partnerships Demonstrate New Direction
the type ofannouncements made by
Holland America involving new partnerships with AFAR Media andUTrip don’t merit a big press event in
NYC. But they did this past October becauseHAL
had a point to make – under the recent leadership of Orlando Ashford the
formerly tradition-focused line is embracing change.
Carnival Corp. did a major brand analysis study to help further differentiate its brands and define clearer “swim
lanes.” Holland America’s points of differentiation were identified as classicstyle and enriching journeys - meaning
the manner in which it delivers the
experience to guests, including immersive cultural experiences and unique
The partnership with travel magazine AFAR to create comprehensive destination
guides on HAL’s website and with Utrip for customizable web itinerary planning
are both innovative and supportive of HAL’s strongpoints, according to Ashford.
“There are lots of things that are classic about
Holland America Line: The mid-sizedships,
the blue hull, our service culture, the wrap-around teak decks and a number of
thingsthat in a list would be
too long to mention.”
But he quickly adds: “On the flip side, enriching journeys is really the core
of ourmessage today. We spent
more than a year undergoing extensive research and effort to helpus further understand our customers
and our guests, what they like about cruising with us,how we are different than other cruise
lines, and how we can make their travel experiencebetter as well as attracting new
The conclusion? “Our guests are destination-driven and prioritize cultural
experienceswhen they travel. To
our guests, a Holland America cruise is much more than the cruise itself.They are passionate about travel. So
the dreaming and planning are all part of theexperience.”
Enter AFAR Media. “While we know that we offer our guests a lot of destinationinformation already, we also know
through research that 3rd party content is viewed asmore credible and authentic than what
a particular company may offer,” Ashford says.
fact, he says, a recent Nielsen study found expert content to be 88% more
effectivethan brand content in
delivering familiarity, affinity and consideration.
AFAR, explains Ashford, is a multimedia platform
company that caters to experientialtravel.
“AFAR’s content is gathered from around the globe. Through our collaboration,
Holland America Line will deliver localized, curated content from AFAR via our
website to helpcruisers dream,
plan, choose and prepare for the next perfect vacation.”
Specifically, Holland America goes to more than 400 unique ports, and so the
partnershipwith AFAR will help
it to build destination guides for each of them.
“These comprehensive new guides will provide guests and travel partners with
access tosome of the most
comprehensive information accessible to travellers in the cruise industry,”he says.
AFAR provides traveller recommendations for up to 20 top attractions,
restaurants and shopping experiences in each destination. HAL anticipates the 1st
destinationguides to be on its
website by the end of this month, with more rolling out through 2016.
where does Utrip come into play? “We know from research that the most
come from a trip that is personalized. That is the world we are movinginto - how do we make everything
personal to your own individual tastes and interests?”responds Ashford.
Utrip, he says, is a travel planning software platform that makes it easy for
travellers tocreate their trip.
“Utrip’s predictive technology works on a vast travel database that has been
curated bylocal experts and now
will be integrated into our website to give ourguests the most comprehensive and
interactive personalized planning tool in the cruiseindustry,” says Ashford.
“Building on all of the destination guide content provided by AFAR, cruisers
willbe able to select desired
ports of call, highlights and activities in port and then will receive
customized recommendations on their cruise itineraries, excursions and localhighlights. It simplifies the
decision-making process and narrows the options to the sailings andactivities that are most interesting
to the cruisers,” Ashford adds.
Ashford and his HAL team believe the customization of
the Utrip experience and the content provided by AFAR are inline with how today’s traveller
approaches travel. The new relationships are a signal of the many changessure to come during Ashford’s tenure.