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Carnival, Managing Through a Brand Crisis
By: Brian Perry
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By now, mostly everyone knows of the trials and tribulations of the Carnival Triumph. The cruise ship experienced a fire that knocked out power to most of the ship and then spent four days being dragged back to port. In those four days, passengers had to endure sewage, lack of food, and boredom. As a brand, Carnival had to put in a crisis plan of action to help everyone onboard. However, with every move they made, they also had to think about how the general public would react to these moves. They had to think about the family members of those onboard, passengers, and crewmembers. They also had to think about the implications for the people who were booked on a future Carnival cruise and ensure that people would continue to want to book again. Carnival had to quickly evaluate the situation, decide on a course of action, and then implement it within a short amount of time.

In any crisis, your organization needs to have a strong system in place to handle adversity, both on the ground level and at the top of the organization. Carnival had such an organizational structure with the Triumph. Carnival’s training of its crewmembers to handle a situation like this provided structure in a chaotic environment. With a fire on the cruise ship, it was up to the crewmembers to calm worried passengers and provide them with information so that they knew what was going on. The crew was able to provide structure when chaos ensued with the ship itself. There were certain areas of the ship that were difficult to maneuver around and the crewmembers were still providing service to passengers even while dealing with their own personal issues.

At the corporate level, Carnival assessed the situation and made plans to have the Triumph towed back to the U.S. as safely and quickly as possible. Carnival took care of those onboard and made sure their needs were taken care of as best as possible. Next, Carnival was out talking to the media about what had happened and what was being done to bring the ship back to port. Even when they encountered trouble bringing the ship back into a port, they set a solid course of action to get the passengers safely home.

A crisis can happen to any organization. As examined by looking at the situation on the Carnival Triumph, it is critically important to have a solid infrastructure that allows adaptability in dealing with the unexpected in place. This plan can make or break your organization’s reputation and brand.

Is your organization ready?

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About the Author
Brian Perry is an accomplished communications professional with expertise in all aspects of successful marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions, and social media. Brian's outside interests consist of Hockey, Lacrosse, Insanity (basically any type of sport), books, and family time. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter
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