The holidays are a big time for cruise lovers to take on the high seas. The giant hotel on the water is a great way for families to spend a lovely vacation together while also having time to explore as individuals. Cruises present a strong value in travel, are redefining the cruise experience and appealing to their primary audiences' better.
It may be why the cruise market is growing so strongly.
“In the last five years cruises have been growing by 6.5 percent a year (among North American travelers, according Cruise Lines International Association figures). Passenger volume will be over 30 million in 2019.” Sales have been growing at an annual rate of 10 percent and growth is expected to continue at approximately the same rate for the next five years.
The good news is that growth in the cruise industry can create new opportunities for many businesses outside the industry that can solve passenger pain points.
Cruisers still face many issues during their travels, and if you can solve for them, you have a potential market of 30 million that could want to do business with you in order to make their life easier.
Consider some cruising passenger challenges:
Most cruisers must travel to the port city that the ship is departing. This could involve flying, driving, car rental, hotel stay, bus, train, shared ride, shuttle, etc. The harder it is to get from home to ship, and back, will increase the likelihood of something going wrong. Making passenger travels as smooth as possible from beginning to end (not just when they are with you) will provide them with a much more positive passenger experience and improve the likelihood that they will return.
- Airports – When flying, cruise travelers tend to build in extra time within their itinerary to reduce the chance that issues will cause them to miss their boat. They may be spending a lot of this extra time with you. You can take advantage of the millions of microtransactions that can take place during the hours they are spending time at your facility. Use the knowledge about how the cruise industry has redefined a traveler’s experience and apply that thought process within your facility. It can be key to driving a positive experience and sales.
- Airlines – Working and communicating with cruise lines would only be to your benefit if the industry continues to grow. One problem early in the trip, say with a flight delay due to weather, can cascade issues through the rest of the trip and possibly cancel it. Offering packaged sureties from plane to ship would provide a truly traveler-centric service and aleve passenger stresses. For the return trip, realize cruise passengers do not have access to what they would normally have at home, and may have a ton of souvenirs coming with them. Consider working with a packaging supplier or selling additional luggage at the ticketing gate for a better passenger experience and increase in revenue.
- Port Cities – Since many cruise travelers won’t know the city nor know what to do with any excess time they have to spare, providing this information will only be a benefit to the local economy. Maps with hotspots, top restaurants, etc. can provide visitors with a simple guide to your city. Remember to keep your audience at the forefront of every idea because the industry is multi-generational. No matter what, make it easy or it may never get used.
Getting everything ready for a cruise can be overwhelming, depending on the number of days and the size of the family. There is a lot of clothing and other necessities that's needed for a week of cruising. Most likely, there will be several bags, some will need checking, there will be baggage fees (if flying) and a lot to keep track of and watch. Solving for cruising families in this predicament could be an amazing breakthrough.
- Shippers – As much as you like your boxes, this is a chance to think outside the box and come up with ways to solve for this heavy problem. Would a direct shipping store at the port or at the airport open new opportunities for business? Possibly a service that provides roundtrip luggage shipping from home to cruise ship and delivery back home again? Or a concierge service to get luggage to and from the airlines? The opportunities are as endless as your imagination.
- Airports and Airlines – If there is currently a rule that passengers cannot go past TSA until four hours before their flight if they are checking their bag, you should consider designing a solution. Hundreds of families sitting on floors prior to the ticket gate, just waiting for their four-hour time slot to open, is not only a bad passenger experience, but a huge missed opportunity. The more time people spend in the concessions section of the airport, the more they can spend. That is now a missed opportunity.
Protecting the Home
Passengers have a lot of details to take care of before they leave on a week+ long cruise. Animals will need a sitter or boarding. Mail and packages will need to be stopped or redirected. Security measures need to be taken so it doesn’t seem like there’s an empty house sitting there all week. A spare itinerary should be shared with a close friend or relative, just in case. Services to take care of, watch over or maintain all these little details for cruisers is another opportunity for businesses to improve the passenger experience.
Taking one or more passenger challenges and turning them into a future opportunity for your business allows you to reap the benefits of a growing industry while helping others.