In the second part of this report on Travolution’s search masterclass, hosts from digital specialist Propellernet talk about the importance of good content
The cruise industry was considered to have plenty of great content but there were concerns about whether it was being used to its optimum and whether some of it was too corporate.
With so many people still rejecting cruise as an option, it is rich content that demonstrates what life is actually like onboard a modern cruise ship that could tip the balance towards a sale.
But with many lines based in the US and understandably protective of their image it is often up to the retailers to create the content that ultimately portrays their brand in the marketplace.
Ed Lamb, planning and project director at Propellernet, said: “The good news is you guys have some fantastic content out there that can be used to your benefit. The question is, how are you using your content, how are you maximising the value out of it? How much effort and value are you putting into the content side of things?
“Do you have a content budget? How is it targeted? Is it targeted by search groups? If it is it’s going to get more value for you coming back.”
We have offices round the globe and we haven’t had the discipline of one repository for all the content. So it’s trying to find it that’s frustrating.
Cunard president Peter Shanks said: “We are lucky because we have so many experiences with the brand.
“The ones that really work are the impromptu things. For instance, we had Desmond Tutu on a ship and he agreed to a little interview. And last week Roger Daltry from The Who was on and he went downstairs and sang a song to the crew, so we are about to blog that. A video of him singing to the crew will probably give people more of a feeling for the brand than just another video of an inside cabin or a suite.
“It’s more the experiences that brings a brand to life. What we’re not good at, because we have got so much of it, is keeping it in the right part of the site so people can find it.”
Hurtigruten UK managing director Kathryn Beadle agreed, adding: “We have offices round the globe and we haven’t had the discipline of one repository for all the content. So we have all the content but it’s trying to find it that’s so frustrating.”
Agents on the panel said content that lines provide was often too corporate and that a more “homemade” approach worked better.
Cruise Village director Phil Nuttall said one example was the use of language, with lines preferring agents to use ‘stateroom’ whereas UK customers were more familiar with ‘cabin’.
“We have changed a lot of our thought process about having nice, pretty, fancy stuff,” he said. “It took a lot of time to produce but it wasn’t delivering. It’s about going out there and finding that new market, the synergy people have with a particular way of life.”
Iglu Cruises marketing development manager Kirsteen Fox said there were opportunities for agents to create their own unique content, adding: “We are all competing and while it’s great to have the content the brands produce, you need your own.”
Silverseas marketing director Anil Swarup said: “Quite a lot of the brands are international. We have certain parts of our site we can manage locally but when we talk about content it’s often corporately driven. There is a certain amount of flexibility, but we are not driving the site, which is probably quite unusual, and it certainly raises the question about how we can operate for the UK market.
“A lot of the content is for a worldwide audience, but the British guests work in different ways to the Americans. I think it will change and I presume technology will allow that more and more.”
The key for us is conversion because you run the risk of creating a lot of brand buzz for all your lines and then people book direct.
However, Claire Riches, Norwegian Cruise Line’s UK head of marketing, said: “We’re the complete opposite; our Miami head office doesn’t build our website, it expects us to do it locally.
“We do still take 20% of their content because it covers 80% of our needs, so it means we are still playing catch-up in terms of making sure we have the right content to allow somebody to understand our product.”
Tom Fotheringham, founder and chief executive of new price comparison website Cruisecompare.co.uk, said he used as much rich content as possible, including that provided by operators, adding: “The key for us is conversion because you run the risk of creating a lot of brand buzz for all your lines and then people book direct.
“We have to get the message across that we add value, compare prices and are the place to book. Every page is content-rich; we have 20-plus images of every ship, we use deck plans, videos, pictures of cabins etc. Conversions are good.”
Part 3: Authority >