Cruise companies are hoping that it’s no longer just the “newlyweds and nearly dead” who want to vacation on the high seas. Rich millennials — an age group that has been shown to favour spending money on experiences over luxury goods — are becoming a target for the $US39.6 billion global cruising industry.
“Cruises have this unique opportunity to really grow in this market because they have already got what the market wants,” Kacha Azema of Skidmore Studio, an ad agency that works with cruise ship companies to help them engage with millennials, said to Business Insider. “They don’t have to turn themselves into something they’re not. They’re going to exotic, interesting destinations and are doing things that millennials want to do.”
Uniworld’s U European river cruise, for example, sets sail in 2018. It’s a trip aimed specifically at those between the age of 18 and 40, and it claims to offer “immersive and adventurous experiences along the Instagram and Snapchat-worthy rivers of Europe,” the company said in a press release in December.
The point is to create moments that their young guests will share on social media, and by offering short, shareable excursions, they are able to do that, Azema said.
“Culturally millennials are attuned to watching what their friends do, being excited about it, and wanting to do it themselves,” he said.
New York Times writer Sheila Marikar shared her experience aboard the Regent Seven Seas Explorer last week. She wrote that the ship, which was launched in July 2016, was finding ways to target her age group.
“The pool deck echoed the over-the-top sensibility, with furnishings that are reminiscent of Miami or Mykonos,” she wrote. “By the bar, women in leather moto jackets sipped white wine, and a D.J. spun Fleetwood Mac (a win on both demographic fronts).”
A spokesperson for Regent told Business Insider that the boat is not aimed specifically for millennials, and that it’s meant to be an aspirational product for this age group. Given that prices start at around $US5,799 per guest, based on double occupancy for a 10-night stay, it’s not within reach for everyone.
But this is one of the big challenges that these companies face. They need to find ways to draw in this younger generation without alienating others — specifically, the older generations who are still their core customers.
In October 2015, Royal Caribbean launched an ad campaign called “Come Seek.” At the time, Royal Caribbean CMO Jim Berra told Adweek: “‘Come seek’ is designed to attract the next generation of cruisers. For them, trying new things, taking the road less travelled and sharing their experiences via social media is core to how they enjoy life.”
But they were careful not to turn their ships into “party boats” and focused on experiences that can be enjoyed by different age groups.
“It’s not just: ‘Hey, here are smiling, young, skinny people,'” Azema said.
“We are showing people of all ages and focusing on activities that are appreciated by all ages.”