Get automatic updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Connect with Steve Sipress


Cruising To Success


Just one month ago, my beautiful wife Michele (that’s her to the left) and I were enjoying eight sunny, fun-filled days at sea on Mike Filsaime’s Western Caribbean Marketers Cruise. Hundreds of sharp marketers from around the world gathered for a mostly-pleasure-plus-a-little-business cruise aboard the Carnival Valor. (See my personal photos from the cruise in my “Money-Making Monthly” magazine here.

Last week, a different Carnival cruise ship was in the news for five days – but for a completely different reason.

Carnival’s Chief Executive has apologized for the situation, and the company offered reimbursement plus other compensation to their customers, so I’m certainly not going to bash the company here.

Instead, let’s examine the extraordinary explosion of growth experienced by the cruise industry as a whole over the past few decades, to discover what lessons we can learn about how to revolutionize our own businesses…

Up until the 1970’s, cruise ships were seen as merely a means of transportation – one way of getting to a destination. Only about half a million people a year went on a cruise of any kind (as compared to today’s total of over 20,000,000 cruisers annually!).

In 1974, the Queen Elizabeth II revolutionized the industry by being the first to have international celebrities perform on the ship, advertising their 4-day New York/London trip as being as much about a vacation and Vegas-style entertainment experience as just getting from one place to the other.

The Big Lesson: Do you think your business is only all about your deliverable – the product or service you provide? Or do you understand that you are also in the entertainment business? I’m not saying that every plumber needs to put on a Vegas-style show whenever he fixes a leaky faucet, but even a plumber can certainly inject personality, fun and entertainment into his marketing and customer interaction.

plumbing truck toiletplumbing ad toilet paperplumber humor crack

The QEII also introduced “one-class” cruising – where every passenger got to enjoy all of the amenities on board, regardless of their cabin level. This led to people starting to take short cruises just for the fun of it, as opposed to strictly a means of travel.

The Big Lesson: Can you think of something you could do to make customers want to spend more time on your website, or in your bricks-and-mortar location? Think of dentists who have a “video games” section of their website and a waiting room more like that of a high-end spa or country club than anything patients would normally expect.

Then there’s Barnes & Noble, who, as their website points out, “pioneered the concept of a retail store as a community center” – complete with comfortable couches and coffee houses with live musicians.

In the 1980’s, nearly 40 “megaships” were built – some equipped to carry over 2,000 passengers. For the first time, cruise ships were designed to be floating all-inclusive hotels, and cruises became almost all about the on-board experience as opposed to merely getting to a destination. Many new amenities were introduced, including casinos, nightclubs, gyms and spas.

The Big Lesson: Is there a way you can “re-design” your business to concentrate more on giving your customers experiences they want in addition to merely the basic products or services you provide? Think McDonald’s restaurants with “PlayPlaces” and sporting events with sausage races and t-shirt cannons during time-outs.

Every year, more and more “specialty cruises” are introduced to the marketplace. The website invites its visitors to “Browse Over 100 Cruise Themes” and presents itself as “an alternative to the big-box cruise ships.” If you’re interested in certain types of activities or destinations, or hanging out with certain types of people, odds are you can find a cruise that caters to your desire.

The Big Lesson: Have you chosen a group (or groups) – a “target market” – that you can get to know really well, and offer them specific solutions to match their particular desires, instead of squandering your marketing dollars “just getting your name out there” and trying to marketing to everyone who could possibly use your product or service? Do you understand that “there’s riches in niches”?

The cruise industry continues to set records in revenue and profits, and builds bigger and bigger “megaships” every year – despite the most challenging economy any of us has experienced in our lifetimes, and despite negative publicity generated by three recent cruise ship disasters. Will you take a page – or pages – out of the industry’s marketing playbook to bring massive success to your business?

If you want help learning and implementing innovative marketing strategies and tactics, take advantage of my FREE test drive of The World’s Most Powerful Client Attraction Program Ever Created:


3 Responses to Cruising To Success

  1. Russell Burck Reply

    February 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Wow! Steve, a great set of great ideas. Tnx, Russ

  2. Vertie Eichberger Reply

    April 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Carnival was a pioneer in the concept of shorter, less expensive cruises. Its ships are known for their Las Vegas-style decor and entertainment. The line calls its ships The Fun Ships, and there are a wide range of activities offered on board. Its trademark is the funnel, which is red, white and blue and shaped like a whale’s tail. The mascot for Carnival is “Fun Ship Freddy”, a character in the shape of Carnival’s distinctive funnel.,

    Check you later

  3. Devona Gowan Reply

    April 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

    By contrast, dedicated transport oriented ocean liners do “line voyages” and typically transport passengers from one point to another, rather than on round trips. Traditionally, an ocean liner for the transoceanic trade will be built to a higher standard than a typical cruise ship, including high freeboard and stronger plating to withstand rough seas and adverse conditions encountered in the open ocean, such as the North Atlantic. Ocean liners also usually have larger capacities for fuel, victuals, and other stores for consumption on long voyages, compared to dedicated cruise ships.,`

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *