Luxury river and ocean cruises
If ever a cruise line was well-positioned to rebound from COVID-19, it would be Scenic Luxury Tours and Cruises, the global river and ocean cruising line based in Australia.
By the very nature of their design, Scenic’s vessels are right-sized for safe-distancing while navigating the waterways of Europe, South-Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. Even it’s first entry into ocean cruising, the Eclipse — the world’s first ‘discovery’ yacht launched in 2019 — is size-appropriate to ameliorate safety concerns.
Scenic’s reputation for excellence has grown with its fleet in the decades leading up to the pandemic. The company conceived and launched by Glen Moroney, aligned itself with its owner’s reputation for bold entrepreneurship and his passion for the highest quality in tour curation, accommodation and cuisine.
Now in its 37th year, the company boasts a fleet which exceeds more than two dozen vessels, all exquisite, each unique, and collectively ready to return to pre-COVID levels of marketing and sales results.
The timing of the company’s original 2009 entry into the Canadian marketplace had been less than fortuitous. Globally the river cruise market was an increasingly saturated market and as is often the case with sector-leading companies, its competitors had adopted a ‘me too’ approach to marketing.
Scenic had leaned heavily into traditional media such as offline publications and radio and television campaigns for its Canadian launch, just as it had done to great success in other geographic markets. Over the succeeding decade it embraced the digital space relying on its internal resources supplemented by independent contractors.
The result was year-over-year growth in the business but like all cruise lines in 2018, downward trends began to appear. The challenges faced by its marketers were universal to virtually every company practicing online marketing: digital marketing innovation had the potential outstrip the ability of its internal software and practitioners to adapt. Recognizing this possibility, Scenic turned to Wallop for strategic guidance on how it could side-step the challenges of platform obsolescence and more importantly, do so while delivering improved results.
As with any outside digital marketing supplier, the company expected dramatic improvements in SEO rankings and paid advertising metrics for river cruising. Even more crucial was the need to secure new branded and non-branded terms for the Eclipse, the jewel in Scenic’s crown which cost a quarter billion US dollars to build and was to herald its entry into the global ocean cruising world. Unlike its established ‘river’ online marketing programs, its ‘ocean’ campaigns were to be built from the ground up, addressing new audiences for which the company had no pre-existing data.
The structural foundation of the river cruise marketing had long been in place (as expected) and was very much state-of-the-market. What was needed and sought from Wallop, were state-of-the-art refinements to the current activities while at the same time dreaming up and building new, more relevant campaigns based on our assessment of previously unseen opportunities. Ironically we had to embrace traditional ‘old school’ analog techniques and yet lean on our ‘bleeding edge’ insight into digital tools such as machine learning-based AI.
For SEO, the Wallop team wrestled any and all technical and tracking challenges to the ground, even uncovering and resolving many previously unknown issues. On-branded terms for river cruising shot upwards by multiple triple-digits percentages and new branded terms for the Eclipse quickly secured first-page rankings.
Similarly, for paid campaigns, Wallop pulled every conceivable leading-edge lever in its strategic blitz. It used automation at every turn and quickly defined best-converting audiences. Accounts were optimized around macro conversions (versus all conversions) and key metrics with the result that river cruise inquiries and brochure downloads skyrocketed. For the Eclipse, Wallop tapped Google, YouTube, Bing and Facebook to generate awareness and drive leads for this exciting, valuable new product.
Happily Scenic had put itself in the best of positions as the pandemic hit and now the long reach to recovery will be very much within its grasp.
Increase in leads in 2019 over 2018.
Increase in non-branded keyword impressions in 2019 over 2018.
Reduction in cost per lead in 2019 over 2018.
Increase in brochure requests in 2019 over 2018.