How to promote a cruise on social media and reach more customers

Posted in: Ideas for your websiteLast update: 17/06/19

Cruise vacations are booming. Currently they make up 2% of the leisure travel market, and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) counted over 28,500 passengers in 2018. Even so, there’s growing competition between different travel agencies and cruise operators. Here’s how to make your cruises stand out with an active, engaging social media presence.

The buyer’s journey for cruise passengers is different from other retail and travel products. Why? Well, the decision process to purchase is relatively long both, because consumers have to many factors to consider: price, dates, weather, personal needs on the voyage, and so on.

What’s more, the customer experience is changing as people use the internet to plan and search for cruise vacations. According to Hosteltur, more than 30 million users search for topics related to travel on their smartphones each month. More and more people rely on social recommendations and reviews to make holiday choices, too.

So it’s essential that your marketing strategy is responsive, optimized for mobile – and social.

Reach more prospective passengers on social media

What do you want to achieve with your social media strategy? We’re betting you’ll check most of the boxes on this list:

  • increase followers
  • get more comments
  • get more likes
  • promote a cruise, package holiday, or other product
  • hear customer feedback
  • encourage word-of-mouth marketing
  • reward customer loyalty

… right? And that’s why social media giveaways have become so popular. With the correct planning and execution, a giveaway on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help you towards all of these goals.

3 ways to promote a cruise with online giveaways and contests

You have several options on how to run a giveaway, depending on your specific marketing objectives and KPIs.

1. Comment contests on social media

First off, if you want to increase followers or engagement, then a simple comments contest is a good place to start. You can organize this on your Facebook page, Instagram profile, Twitter – or even combine all three.

Screenshot of an Instagram giveaway to promote a cruise. The image shows a mans arm as he leans on the rail of a boat sailing down a river. The caption invites users to like and comment on the photo for the chance to win a family river cruise.

Write a giveaway post with an enticing photo of blue seas and ships. Just make sure you include terms and conditions so that your contest is above-board.

There’s more to a comments contest than just engagement, of course. When you start the contest, you’ll have to ask people a question to get the comments started. So why not ask for customer feedback, and use your social media giveaway as market research?

Screenshot of an Instagram giveaway to promote a cruise. The image shows a man and a woman sitting on wooden deckchairs on a white sandy beach, facing out to sea. The caption invites users to comment with their top 3 holiday essentials, for a chance to win those items.

Take the example above, from Jetline Cruise. They asked their Instagram followers to comment with their top three holiday essentials. Those comments provided useful information about customers’ preferences and priorities.

What’s more, the brand used the winners’ comments to select the prizes. Each winner won an item that they had mentioned in their comment! This is another way to make your giveaway really popular: let your customers choose the rewards they want.

Small rewards like this are also more affordable for brands. If you want to give away a bigger prize, then you can ask your followers for more effort or information in return.

2. Giveaways with registration forms

Take this contest from Cruisefever, advertized on their Instagram photo. They gave away three week-long cruises in the Caribbean – so because the prize was so large, they could ask users for more, like their contact details and personal information.

Screenshot of an Instagram giveaway to promote a cruise. The image shows a cruise ship at sea during sunset. The caption invites users to visit the link in bio to sign up for the contest.

You can also use contests to tap into word-of-mouth marketing. As well as asking people to join your mailing list, why not set them a challenge? Take this recruiters contest, below. Every time a participant referred a friend to the contest, they won an extra entry in the prize draw.

Screenshot of an Instagram giveaway to promote a cruise. The image shows a cruise ship and an isolated island beach. The caption explains that users join the prize draw when they refer a friend.

3. Photo contests for cruise passengers

And finally, we come to the last goal on our list. What about rewarding loyal customers with an online contest?

If you already have a group of happy customers, then they will be a great source of reviews, recommendations, and user-generated content. And you can get the ball rolling with a photo contest. Simply ask people to share their best photos from your cruise – with a prize for the most popular snap.

Images taken from a photo contest to promote a cruise. The photos from participants show a light house at sunset, a peaceful beach, a man playing badminton on a beach, and a sunset sky. An inset image of a mobile phone displays the homepage of the contest with details of the rules.

Now for the cherry on top. Of course, not everyone can win your giveaway – but people have still gone to the effort of sharing their photos and contact details with you.

So if you really want to send all your customers away happy, try giving a surprise coupon or discount code to everyone who joins your contest. It’s an easy way to show all your followers that you appreciate them – and encourage repeat passengers.

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Randi Jensen

International Business Developer in Easypromos