“A cruise is the best vacation value, period,” says Steven Hattem, VP of marketing and communications for CruiseOne, a franchise organization that specializes in cruise travel, and Cruises Inc., an agency network operation that also specializes in cruise vacations. Both companies are World Travel Holdings brands.
“Now it's an even more incredible value than it ever was.”
CruiseOne offered the CruiseAssurance program through May 30, which added a job loss caveat to the companies' base insurance plan at no extra charge. The PR initiative to promote the program, which included media outreach, online Web pages, and outreach to franchisees so they can raise awareness on a local level, earned national media coverage.
“From a PR standpoint, it hit all areas,” says Hattem. “It hit new consumers, [including] new cruise buyers, and trade media, which enhances what agents are doing. It also brought in new franchisees and independent contractors.”
“When we went out with the program, we tried to emphasize value,” adds Samantha Jacobs, director of PR for Cruises Inc. and CruiseOne. She describes the CruiseAssurance message as “Now that [consumers] have this, you don't have to worry anymore.”
In October 2008, the company also focused on the value of a cruise holiday with a press release listing the “Forty Under $40, ” which also earned national placements in outlets like the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
A year ago at this time, the media was reporting on new fees that were being tacked on to the cost of consumer travel. These days, it's more common for companies to terminate fees in order to lure travelers. While both the Cruises Inc. and CruiseOne Web sites still tout low price, CruiseOne, a retail franchiser, is also focused on recruitment and agent and franchise owner relations.
Going forward, the PR team will work with the marketing group on social media initiatives, such as encouraging agents to participate in chat rooms and blog and continue to tie their messaging to larger issues.
“The [PR] plan is based around a lot of current market items, trends, [etc],” says Hattem. “Cruise pricing is down but bookings are up. How we market and communicate is changing.”