Cruise Travel Advertising Trends in 2019

August 21, 2019

Product innovation is definitely one of the solutions to beating your competition, but how do you find the right traveller suited for your offering? One thing’s for sure—cruise marketers are increasingly turning to digital advertising to reach global travellers. To understand how global cruise marketers are addressing their challenges, Sojern took a deep dive into our State of the Travel Industry findings.

Before we reveal some of our report’s findings, let’s take a look at how the cruise industry has evolved over the years. The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) reported that the demand for cruising has increased 21% in the last five years, placing it as the fastest-growing travel vertical. But, are cruise liners prepared to meet the growing number of younger travellers? Earlier this month, Dream Cruise revealed their latest DC Superheroes Justice League themed sailings on Genting Dream line, with sail dates coinciding with Asia’s school holidays and peak family vacation season. 

Sojern’s General Manager of Airlines and Cruise, Sandy Haberman, will be sharing our cruise findings at Cruise 360 Australasia on 30th August 2019 in Sydney. Ready for a sneak peek?

Trend #1 Cruise Marketers spending more on Digital in 2019

Last year, digital made up the largest portion of marketing spend at 45%. This was relatively low compared to other verticals. For example, respondents in the hotel vertical dedicated half (50%) of their marketing spend to digital. However, cruise marketers represent the highest number who reported that they planned to spend more on digital in 2019, at 77%. 

Cruise 2018 Ad Spend

The Cruise Industry is still heavily reliant on travel agencies, but one thing we know for sure is that they are shifting their focus on driving their travellers in the digital space. 

“We can’t be satisfied with the way we’ve always done things, and especially in digital media, things evolve so quickly, we’ve always got to be looking for an edge and trying ahead to stay ahead of the competition.” – Peter Giorgi, Chief Marketing Officer, Celebrity Cruises

Trend #2 Video is on the Rise

One of the key trends we see in our 2019 report, is the use of visual storytelling as travellers increasingly consume information through online videos. A full third of online activity is spent watching video. Similar to last year, 2019’s top 3 channels that travel marketers plan to invest in video are Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. 

Cruise Emerging Tech

The same trend is seen in the cruise industry as well, with 62% of cruise marketers intending to spend more on Instagram than other video channels. Connected TV (CTV) is also an upcoming channel, where we see an uptick in interest to invest in 2019. One quarter (26%) of cruise marketers used CTV last year, and 44% of them intend to explore it this year. 

Trend #3 Increasing Importance of Real-Time Travel Audience data for an Effective Marketing Strategy

With 55% of cruise marketers citing “delivering personalised ads and offers in real-time” as their top challenge, it is no surprise that they ranked real-time travel audience data as the top disrupting technology in advertising that they plan to invest in 2019. On top of that, 70% of cruise marketers shared that the top reason for them to leverage data is for better segmentation and targeting, where they get the ability to target travellers based on intent and/or where they are in the path to purchase.

Cruise Emerging Tech

One of the most beautiful things about digital media is obviously how measurable it is and how optimizable it is and so we don’t do anything without having some expectation of performance, and the ultimate expectation is obviously to get people to the site, get them back to the site, re-target them, and continue to do that until they actually book.” – Peter Giorgi, Chief Marketing Officer, Celebrity Cruises

Looking for more detail on the key challenges travel marketers face, how they’re allocating advertising spends across channels, where they are finding success, and what technologies may impact the future of marketing?

Download our full State of the Industry: The 2019 Report on Travel Advertising today. 


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About Amanda Tan

Amanda is Sojern’s Marketing Associate, APAC and works in the Singapore Office. She can’t decide between travelling to new cities and going for ballet classes!

Amanda Tan About the author

Amanda is Sojern’s Marketing Associate, APAC and works in the Singapore Office. She can’t decide between travelling to new cities and going for ballet classes!