Today, Twitter is the most popular social networking site with a staggering 310 million monthly users, most of which are millennials and young adults. This social media platform allows for easier two-way dialogue than most forms of communication. Because of Twitter’s ability to easily create a window of conversation, cruise line companies are able to create more personal relationships with their customers. As with all social media, Twitter provides the opportunity for consumers to voice opinions and share about their experiences. Twitter also provides an avenue for private conversations through direct messaging (DM).
Sadly, not every family will have the perfect cruise vacation, so what’s to stop them from posting online about it? Social media allows consumers the power to positively promote brands, but can also cause serious problems with just one post. That is why cruise line companies must utilize social media to not only reach new audiences, but also manage relations with current customers.
Typically, breaking news hits Twitter before being formally addressed on any official news platform. For example, in 2009, cruise lines tried to keep a number of ship malfunctions internal and away from the media. The secret was lost at sea with no available outlets to spread the news. However, that’s not quite the case now with social media in the picture. Also in 2009, there was a fire in the engine room on The Princess, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The Princess was not planning on releasing information regarding the incident, until a pastor from South Carolina aboard the ship tweeted about it on his phone. His tweet included photos of the scene showing the boat being tugged to the nearest port. Families of those on the ship relied on the pastor’s information to make sure their loved ones were safe. By the time Royal Caribbean published a press release about the fire, they had already lost their audience. Everyone was looking to the pastor for trustworthy first-hand information instead of the company itself. Royal Caribbean’s dilemma is proof that businesses, especially cruises, must pay close attention to social media to listen in on what their consumers have to say.
Learning from their mistakes, Royal Caribbean has made themselves present on most social media platforms. They specifically utilize Twitter to share information with guests, post amazing photography, and comical quotes for entertainment. They even aim to give guests’ a good laugh by featuring a “top 15 humorous tweets.” By humanizing themselves online, Royal Caribbean crosses the professional line between the company and consumer to form a more authentic relationship.
Twitter has altered the way cruise companies not only advertise to their customers, but also how they inform them. Cruise companies do well to continually adjust their strategies according to new social media platforms.