Royal Caribbean: managing the European social communications of one of the largest cruise companies in the world

Projects

Royal Caribbean

Starting point

The need to build a solid brand reputation through engaging with different stakeholders, as well as to generate interest in the company’s cruises and connect with new customers to turn them into brand ambassadors.

Solution

A European content strategy that took into account the particularities of each brand and market (buyer persona, digital maturity) but followed the same strategic direction across the continent.

What we did

Research
Strategy
Content & engagement
Reporting

At the end of 2017, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the second largest cruise line operator in the world based in Miami, opened a new hub in Barcelona to manage the European presence of its main global brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.

With this expansion they sought to promote a new global strategy and as a result, they launched the challenge of designing and managing their social media plan for the Eurozone (Spain, France, Italy and Germany -including Austria and Switzerland-). This request included the definition of the strategic framework, audience profiling, development and management of graphic and audiovisual pieces, monitoring, reporting, crisis management and adaptation of global campaigns to the local environment of each market.

And that’s how we started this refreshing adventure. Ready to set sail?

Engagement and reputation: two complementary objectives for our ‘glocal’ strategy

In addition to designing this global strategy for the Eurozone, we had to take into account the different areas and particularities within the company. The project was born from the communication area, so our main objective was to improve the brand’s reputation. However, the strategy also had to be aligned with the priorities set by the marketing team, focused on sales and conversion in the different channels. In this way, the global objectives of Royal Caribbean’s brands were based on three main pillars:

  1. Build a good brand reputation among the different stakeholders (buyer persona, media, influencers) in order to strengthen a long term relationship, which would translate into generating engagement and interaction with our audiences.
  2. Generate interest in the different cruises of the Royal Caribbean brands and the unique vacation experiences available, taking into account each buyer persona.
  3. Connect with new customers and turn them into brand ambassadors through their positive experience with the company.

The journey began with the construction of the traveller’s Customer Journey and the Buyer Personas of the different markets

The first step towards building the strategic framework, on which we would develop the entire Royal Caribbean content strategy, was to conduct an analysis of the sector where the company operates, both tourism and cruises. In order to develop a high-impact global brand content strategy, it is critical to have an in-depth knowledge of the individual buyers in each of the markets in which the company operates.

Thus, we designed a benchmark of the main competitors in the different European markets and reviewed the habits and attitudes of the travellers in the different countries. We had to pay special attention not only to how users communicated, but also to how consumer habits varied in each country. Based on this analysis of the sector, the competitors and the cruise company’s own audiences, we built the customer journey of the Royal Caribbean traveller and defined the different buyer personas we were going to target.

We built a consolidated and coherent global digital presence for Royal Caribbean, as well as a closer relationship with its audiences.

But how could we ensure that an audience with such varied interests identified with our messages without losing focus? Once we identified exactly who we were addressing and in what context, we went on to design the social strategy for all the countries of Europe with the same common direction, but without ignoring local differences. In this aspect it was important to have a shared direction that would contribute to the cruise company’s global strategy but without forgetting the particularities of each market.

To this end, in Royal Caribbean’s global content strategy we adapted the content of important days in the annual calendar to each market on a recurring basis. In 2019 for Mother’s Day the concept idea was to use “mother’s phrases” associated with experiences within the ship that users could enjoy. Once the concept was approved, it was culturally adapted to the most commonly used phrases in each country, equalizing the overall concept to the particularity of each market.

Moreover, we had to add an extra peculiarity to all the above. In addition to being multi-country, this project was also multi-brand: within the company we can identify two strong brands, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. Each has its own communication guidelines, objectives, and buyer personas.

However, the particularities of each market go beyond the content strategy. Digital maturity varies in each country, so we had to take that into account when setting local goals. These had to be focused on achieving the global objectives of the digital channels. This led us to create a global reporting system in which we measured the different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) based on the objectives of each country.

After two years, the community in the different countries had increased notably, doubling on Instagram in Spain and France, and multiplying by more than 10 in other markets, such as Germany and Italy.

Additionally, we achieved the project’s main objective -building engagement with users,- especially in the last two years: in 2019, interactions were 154% higher than in 2017. These results are not only due to the success of the content strategy, but also of the message alignment process and of campaigns such as the inauguration of Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas in 2018 or Celebrity EDGE by Celebrity Cruises in 2019.

In short, the current digital strategy of global brands is framed in a complex scenario due to its multicultural nature and the volume of stakeholders involved in the processes. However, thanks to digitalization, and with the appropriate methodology, protocols and tools, we built a consolidated and coherent global digital presence for Royal Caribbean, as well as a closer relationship with its audiences.

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