Earlier this month, I attended the two-day Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Executive Partner Summit, an annual gathering for cruise line senior executives, industry partners and suppliers. The over-arching “buzz” brought uplifting news: Despite 2017 being ranked the second most destructive hurricane season in recorded history, most of the Caribbean Islands sustained far less damage than expected, and are up-and-running for winter cruising now and into 2018.
The “lingering cloud” however, is the unknown financial impact on hard-hit islands like Puerto Rico, plus future effects on the cruise lines’ businesses. Nevertheless, the “silver lining” is the industry’s unprecedented support – including the Tourism Cares recovery fund, and the cruise lines, airlines and countless industry partners like Amadeus – who stepped up with generous financial and in-kind donations to help South Florida and the islands get back in business.
Despite these events, the 2018 cruise season is trending toward growth. According to CLIA, 25.8 million passengers will have sailed the high seas in 2017, representing steady, 4 percent annual passenger growth since 2009. In addition, 26 new ships on order equate to a whopping $6.8 billion investment by the industry. The combination of nearly one million jobs, plus wage and passenger growth, points to an impressive $120 billion in economic output globally. And the best news comes from travel professionals themselves: Eight of 10 CLIA travel agents say they expect 2017 sales to increase over last year.
Shaping the future of cruising
At Amadeus, our goal is to shape the future of travel. While our 30th anniversary year will soon come to a close, we’ve already fast-forwarded the conversation to predict what the next 30 years will bring. To find the answers, each year we invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in research. We partner with educational institutions and global research firms to predict the trends that influence the travel industry.
Once such study is Future Traveler Tribes 2030: Beyond Air Travel. Unlike other research projects that focus on demographics, the Traveler Tribes series focuses on traveler psychographics. Put simply, the more we understand the behaviors of future travelers, the better we can create meaningful offers that address their needs.
Now, more than ever, cruisers are choosing more exotic destinations and exceptional experiences. Thanks to the vast reach of social media and continually improving on-ship technology, tomorrow’s cruisers will be better connected to friends, family and fellow travelers than ever. The cruise industry has been one of the fastest growing verticals over the past decade, driven in part by the launch of new cruise ships with on-board amenities that rival the world’s finest five-star hotels.
In the new year, look for cruise lines to invest more marketing dollars in Millennials as a way to shift the perception that cruising is mainly for mature travelers. And with the major cruise lines now offering a range of brands and price points, each traveler tribe is sure to find something of interest.
Get to know the seven Traveler Tribes
- Simplicity searchers are the largest cruiser type. They want their travel professional to pre-plan and package everything for them, so they can be effortlessly on their way.
- Obligation meeters view cruises as “multi-purpose” vacations that piggyback on family reunions, weddings or other important events – with “me time” included before or after the special event.
- Social capital seekers are image-conscious cruisers (and social media users) who leverage cruise experiences to deliver Instagram-worthy photo ops. They naturally gravitate to cruises that will generate scores of “likes” on social media.
- Reward hunters seek a tangible payoff for the hard work they’ve put in at home, work – or both. These “healthy hedonists” gravitate to small, high-end cruise lines that provide a luxury, boutique-type hotel experience. Personalized offshore excursions also appeal to these cruisers. High staff-to-passenger ratios give them the personalized attention they desire.
- Ethical travelers are altruistic consumers who take environmental and sustainability issues to heart. Cruise lines that provide these travelers with helpful information about their sustainability results and “voluntourism” opportunities will attract more of these social do-gooders.
- Cultural purists are attracted to cruise lines that appeal to their desire for personal growth and new experiences. Cruise lines that offer self-improvement courses, hands-on learning experiences (like celebrity chef cooking classes) and new destinations (like Cuba, for example) appeal to this tribe.
- Sight-doers are different from sightseers. These are the ageless travelers who enjoy experimentation and are eager to experience exciting, off-the-beaten-path adventures.
How tuned-in are you to the behaviors of the seven traveler tribes? Amadeus’ FREE cruise booking solution, Amadeus Total Cruise lets you provide multiple options that meet their specific criteria quickly and easily. One search returns results from an array of cruise lines – including “starting from” pricing – so you can easily identify the sailings that best fit each traveler tribe’s tastes.
How have you successfully matched a traveler tribe with a particular cruise line, destination or other criteria?