Cruise Travel Trends and Key Audiences
With the winter months well underway, Australians are seeking warmer climates across the globe until the sun returns later in the year. An increasingly popular choice for Aussies now is a cruise. With their endless facilities and whistle-stop tours of a continent, it’s understandable why this is the case. The competition is high in this market, so it’s imperative that cruise companies and other associated travel businesses understand who their booking customers are, how to find them, and all in the most cost-effective way.
This inspire will help identify trends across the industry, identify key audiences, and profile their behaviours in order to help with media and campaign planning.
There are distinct differences in seasonal trends across different cruise routes and destinations, but the most popular months overall are between November and February.
Product and Retail Demand
There is increasing demand from consumers to have detailed information about the layout and facilities of a cruise ship, including its real-time location.
Those aged 25 to 34 are most likely to be booking a cruise in the South Pacific, with this type of holiday being strongly associated with proposals and honeymoons.
Those seeking last-minute deals when booking a cruise are more likely to consume regional news, which highlights a potential advertising strategy.
Which are the most popular cruises?
And what are the most lucrative times of year?
To understand the most popular cruises, search term portfolios were built around all generic cruise searches and around the most popular cruise ships (e.g., Carnival Spirit). It was found that the seasonality of these portfolios varied throughout the year, so being able to capitalize on the most popular routes at the right time can be crucial for those in the travel sector.
From the graph below, generic cruise searches spiked at the start of September, the end of November, and throughout January. For those wanting to optimise on both paid and organic search, these are good times.
Search Variations and Seasonlity
What are people searching in the booking/booked phase?
Below are the top keywords that feature across the ship-specific portfolios, which highlight the fact that consumers are very interested in the facilities onboard and the ship’s layout when they are researching a cruise. This should definitely be taken into consideration when writing campaign/site content. The majority of content should aim to be engaging for both prospective bookers and consumers who have already booked a cruise as this will provide the best customer experience.
The graph below shows all of the location-related search variations trended against the “deck plan”-related searches. You can see that over the busy Christmas holiday period that “deck plan” searches start to increase form week ending 26 December whereas location terms don’t increase until week ending 9 January, indicating that people are first researching about the cruise facilities and then where the ship is the closer it gets to their trip.
Search Variations and Seasonality
What are people searching for when in the research phase?
Below are the top keywords from a search report of generic cruise-related terms highlighting the fact that there is a large market for last-minute bookings, family bookings during school holidays, and travelers who are open to special offers or cheap deals.
The high search volume of school holiday deals should be a factor considered when scheduling campaigns to engage with this audience.
Partnerships with insurance companies should also be utilised where possible, as travel insurance is clearly searched for in conjunction with the research phase of booking a cruise.
Looking at branded cruise searches can give some insight into increased awareness in the market and changes across competitors.
Seasonality of Cruise Destinations
Which are the most popular destinations at which time of year?
Below, you can see that Australia is the most popular cruise destination although this will be slightly skewed due to the fact that many people searching are departing for their cruise from Australia. This can help influence search strategy thought as it highlights a keyword that would be part of the search, but not necessarily the destination.
Other significant destinations and times int he calendar are Tasmanian cruises in March, Fiji cruises mid-May, and New Zealand cruises picking up mid-November. Campaigns and offers aligning to these peaks in interest could help to increase conversions. To increase this probability further, understanding more about this audience is key.
How do audiences interested in different cruise destinations compare?
Looking at two audience segments based on people searching for “Asia Cruise” variations compared to “South Pacific Cruise” variations, you can start to see fundamental differences int heir demographics and online behaviour. Those 45-54 and Mosaic Group L are most likely to be searching for Asian cruises, whereas 25-34 year-olds and Mosaic Group H are most likely to be looking at South Pacific cruises. There is also variation in where they can be found online with Cruise Sale Finder being the preferred cruise site for the Asia audience and Carnival for the South Pacific one. Interestingly, James Allen is a jeweler, indicating a high propensity for those choosing South Pacific cruises for proposals or honeymoons and the golf site highly over-indexing for the Asia audience which is more popular among men.
More Cruising Audiences
Three key types of cruise holiday shoppers were built into segments and group into: