The cruise ship industry is an anomaly to much of the public. The bigger and more gargantuan these ships become, the less they have to do with the actual seas on which they are sailing. Who needs to be floating in the Atlantic to play blackjack or water slide into a swimming pool? Can’t you do all of that on land? Oh, yeah, and what’s up with all the diseases, power failures and accidents? Those are a concern, too.
Carnival Cruise is responding to the industry’s strained relationship with the public by taking the PR offensive. The brand is implementing a strategy named Carnival Conversations that targets travel agents. That’s right. Despite the digital revolution, travel agents are still around and Carnival views them as a vital lynchpin in booking customers. The outreach will include visits to the travel agents, road shows and efforts to solicit ideas and opinions via the brand’s website, GoCCL.com.
The compelling PR angle here is that Carnival isn’t directly targeting customers, but travel agents. We live in a connected world where technology allows passengers to book their own flights, rentals and make their own travel plans. Yet, the cruise industry has this unique dynamic that still heavily relies on travel agents.
Is Carnival making the right PR move by focusing its efforts on travel agents, or should it make a direct appeal to customers instead?