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Troubled Waters: A Full-Blown Crisis
By: Brian Perry
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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about crisis management for companies. The basis for this post was inspired by the Carnival Triumph crisis and how Carnival responded to it. Well now Carnival has a full-blown crisis at hand. Over the last several weeks, three more Carnival ships have experienced issues while sailing with paying customers. Now Carnival has to deal with FOUR (not a type-o) ships with upset customers. They also have a ripple effect through nervous customers that have already booked their trips on these four ships. Oh, and don’t forget the other customers that have booked cruises on the rest of their ships.

Carnival continues to do a good job communicating with customers and the public in general on each situation. However, now the cruise line will have to face the growing scrutiny that their ships are under — they may not be up for travel. This could not happen at a worse time for Carnival and the cruise industry in general. Summer is coming and customers will be looking forward to their family vacations. Families that have already booked with cruise lines may be rethinking their vacation arrangements. Those that are still looking to spend their money will probably look elsewhere now.

As of this past Friday, Carnival stocks had fallen 2% amidst the recent ship troubles. If their shipping issues continue, then not only is this a problem for Carnival, it is a problem for the rest of the cruising industry. Consumers want to trust that the thousands of dollars they are spending on cruise vacations will end with smiling faces. Right now, Carnival needs to look at customer incentives to help ease nervous customers.

Here are several incentives Carnival should look at to help deal with new and existing customers:

Free Drinks: Some cruise lines offer free soda on their ships. Carnival should make this a mandatory for the summer. Drink packages with Carnival cost $30 per person for a week.
Free Cruise Pictures: Carnival should offer passengers free pictures.
Customer Appreciation Day: Carnival should offer a free port of call on all cruises four days long or more. At the free port of call, Carnival should put on a customer appreciation party.

These are tangible items, but Carnival also needs to do a full-blown media campaign using their TV and online capabilities. The CEO should be out in the media assuring people that their ships are safe. Carnival should also look at doing a series of videos showcasing how they are fixing the troubled ships.
 
Finally, Carnival should do a series of commercials highlighting what Carnival is all about: fun! The commercials need to make people think of fun instead of mechanically troubled ships. These tactics probably won’t help sales in the short term, but the point is that Carnival needs to think long term…and the sooner they put a damage-control plan in place, the better.


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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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