Celebrity’s CEO Says New-to-Cruise Should Be Industry Priority

Cruise Week

Celebrity CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo strongly believes that the cruise industry has not done enough to court 1st time cruisers. And she uses blunt language when explaining the repercussions:

“As an industry, we’re not talking enough about ways to attract new to cruise. That’s why we’re all in the mud talking promotions.”

That background helps to explain Lutoff-Perlo’s elation following meeting with ExpediaCruiseShipCenters leaders this summer and hearing their priorities. “My brain was churning about their efforts on 1st timers,” she says of the group. “They are all about new-to-cruise. A big goal of my strategy is to get more new-to-cruise. Everybody they bring into the business is about new-to-cruise.”

It’s only natural that partnerships tighten when the retail side and the supplier side have aligned business philosophies. “So I’m thinking, ‘We need to figure out a way to work with them more because they are bringing people to that category.’”
Lutoff-Perlo emphasizes that she had important takeaways from each of her visits to agency groups this summer. In this case she describes ExpediaCruiseShipCenters as “amazing” in segmentation and targeting, both of which tie in neatly with new-to-cruise. And she cited that company’s hiring of new-to-cruise agents as helping to reach new-to-cruise consumers, particularly as it is in tandem with segmentation and targeting.
The 1st time issue extends beyond supplier/retail efforts and into every aspect of the business. “I don’t think our industry does a good job with our traditional marketing dollars in areas that fundamentally change our business,” says Lutoff-Perlo. “Consumers don’t believe pamphlets - they believe other people.”
She says that traditional advertising needs to be mixed with newer methods. “If we want people who haven’t booked before to book our cruises, we need to create a robust advocacy network,” she says. “Consumers need to see our brand in a different way.”
As one example, Lutoff-Perlo sees an advantage to publishing a star ratings system from satisfied customers. “We don’t show consumers anywhere about how other consumers rate us. If somebody
is coming on our website to look up our cruises, we tell them what ship is going, how much it
costs, and what the promotion is. We don’t say ‘Look at what people like you who bought this
cruise said about their amazing experience.’”
In the absence of that, people are just shopping. “There’s no differentiation for 1st timers,” says Lutoff-Perlo. “How sad is it that we as an industry are saying the same things we did 30 years ago about new-to-cruise?”

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