Let’s Get Technical In terms of the effect on itinerary planning, when we are looking to design our itineraries, availability of quality tours is a key consideration because we know that that’s going to drive a better guest experience, and at the end of the day, a better guest experience leads to a happy customer, which leads to repeat business, and that’s what we’re all in the game for. What about passengers who do not take tours? Cruise lines have mentioned that they consider this demographic, which is why they build ports that offer retail, F&B options and even tours steps from the ship. How does this segment influence passenger and destination ratings and, thus, itinerary planning? FS: Not every guest is going to take a tour at the destination, and so what becomes critical for those guests is an attractive, safe and comfortable shoreside experience that’s steps away from the ship. Destinations that have developed infrastructure like that, whether it be with the assistance of the cruise line or on their own, definitely drive a better guest experience, particularly from those who don’t take a tour. And even for those who take a tour, that infrastructure is important because guests need a convenient place embark tour buses, and that infrastructure just makes it a pleasant environment to go from ship to tour or ship to town. How do you work with destinations to improve their passenger satisfaction? US: One of things that we spend a lot of time on is building the relationship with
20 THIRD QUARTER 2018 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
the port representatives. I feel that the meetings through organizations like the FCCA are critical because cruise lines can go to the destinations and explain the expectations, needs and guest profile. After all, not all guests getting off a Carnival ship are the same because things like home port, the duration of the cruise and the type of ship play big roles in attracting different demographics. A tour operator in an island might expect a certain kind of Carnival guest, but Carnival guests can be extremely different and, therefore, have different needs and expectations. So in order to make sure that all the guests, not only the guests on a Carnival-organized tour, are enjoying their destination, we need to make sure that everybody is absolutely clear about what our guests want and who are our guests are. That’s why we spend so much time with the destinations and why we try to have that communication channel open to have a frank conversation because, at the end of the day, we are successful if the destinations successfully deliver a great experience. We’re on the same team. What is one tip you would give your teammate—how can a destination take advantage of your itinerary planning process? US: What is absolutely critical is for all destinations to understand how we select ports. In my opinion, a destination is to deliver three elements. The first one is the ability to generate demand; we use marquee value to gauge that because it is usually a function of
the awareness and desire to visit. So if the destination wants to help us in generating demand, it needs to work with their destination marketing to improve either awareness or interest to visit, especially because interest to visit is also a critical point for another element we consider, the growth potential. If a lot of people know about the destination, but most have already visited, there likely would be a drop-off in those interested in going again without new products or demand creation. So this is why it’s so important to increase the desire to visit. The destination has to be able to generate the demand that will allow us to successfully market our itineraries. Secondly, during our visit in port, a destination needs to offer a variety of tours that resonate with the different guest profiles. The portfolio of shore excursions needs to be refreshed on a regular basis in order to be relevant and interesting. Finally, once we are in port, the destination has to be able to deliver a high satisfaction score, which eventually will generate word of mouth when they return home excited about the destinations they visited, and happy people are likelier to cruise again. So a destination must generate demand, provide a wide variety of quality shore excursions and deliver satisfaction, and that satisfaction will create word of mouth and future business. Those are the most critical things for a destination. Why I am telling you this? Because once a destination knows the elements we use in our itinerary planning, they will know what to do to become more appealing and how to come to us and successfully ask for more calls and business.