Bon Voyage! Embarking on journeys that guests love
AIDA Cruises brings travelers’ dreams to life with digital marketing focused on nurturing trust, active listening, and meaningful interactions.
Most companies will tell you that success is built on relationships. AIDA Cruises knows that’s only part of the equation: company success is rooted in brand affinity and love.
AIDA, a German cruise brand, has a brand recognition around 95 percent and more than 1.3 million passengers sailing annually on its 14 vessels. For many travelers, AIDA is part of their everyday lives, with a passion felt towards the brand that shows up in painting their houses in AIDA colors or decorating their living rooms in an AIDA style.
“We’re much more than just a holiday destination for many people,” says Alexander Ewig, senior vice president of marketing and sales for AIDA Cruises. “The love we get from customers is a huge gift, but also a big responsibility. That’s why it’s so important for us to listen to our customers and reach out to them from the heart.”
Just like in any relationship, nurturing a lasting love between brand and customers means learning more about what customers like, finding out what delights them, and then meeting — and exceeding — their expectations. Does a customer view a cruise as a way to relax, see beautiful beaches, and get pampered at a spa? Are they hoping to go on exciting adventures and meet new people? Or do they want to do it all?
To accomplish these customer experience goals and share that love, AIDA Cruises relies on a variety of Adobe Experience Cloud applications, including Analytics, Audience Manager, Campaign, and Experience Manager, integrated with its customer relationship management (CRM) system. As a result, the popular cruise line gains continuous insights into what customers want and keeps them engaged with timely, personalized digital experiences.
Navigating stormy seas
During the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDA’s ability to connect with customers changed dramatically. For the past year, no AIDA cruise has set sail, forcing a brand praised for the beauty of its ships, friendliness of its staff, and memorable on-board experiences to find other ways to forge meaningful connections with customers.
“We knew we had to change the structure of our communication, but not our overall approach, which will always focus on fostering long-term love,” explains Ewig. He attributes the brand’s sustained popularity during the COVID-19 shutdown in part to using the right technology to execute a three-pronged approach to communications: stay in touch, engage customers, and listen to them.
- Staying in touch
AIDA doesn’t have to look far to find fantastic content to share with guests. Its websites, emails, and social media pages are usually filled with the sights and sounds aboard its latest cruises, from sunrises over the bow of a ship to cocktail parties on sandy beaches. But with cruises shut down, content creators needed to take a new approach to stay in touch with customers.
The cruise brand developed completely new types of stories for customers. It invited audiences to join one of AIDA’s most popular captains to watch how a new ship is built. It uploaded recordings of popular shows every Sunday evening to YouTube, giving guests their weekly fix of world-class entertainment. It produced stories spotlighting crew members and sharing their lives during the pandemic.
“The key learning for us is to reimagine content, especially if there’s no obvious news to share,” says Ewig. “Be creative and stay relevant.”
The AIDA team uses Adobe Analytics to continually track and analyze how customers respond to content to understand experiences that best resonate with them — and then refine content as needed. The integration across Experience Cloud applications makes it easy for Ewig and his team to create new content in Adobe Experience Manager and deliver it to any screen for optimal viewing and impact.
- Engaging customers
With high engagement rates from 1.5 million fans on social media and hundreds of thousands of participants in external fan communities, AIDA knows the importance of using Experience Cloud to foster more personalized relationships with customers through diverse channels. “We always had a positive relationship with customers, but during the pandemic we decided to be much more active in how we engaged with the AIDA community,” says Ewig.
AIDA took advantage of hashtags to connect directly with individual fans. When fan communities started using the hashtag #togetherthroughthecrisis to support each other over the past year, AIDA joined in to share love from guests. AIDA also created the #aidamoments hashtag and invited fans to share some of their favorite memories from past AIDA cruises. Fans contributed more than 74,000 #aidamoments posts, which AIDA promoted across social media and advertising.
The combination of Adobe tools, including Analytics, Campaign, and Audience Manager, enables Ewig’s team to respond to fans with follow-up communications tailored to their passions and where they are in life — all essential elements to cultivating an experience of love.
- Listening to customers
According to Ewig, listening is one of the most important things someone can do in any relationship. During the early days of the pandemic, AIDA was forced to cancel trips and refund payments at a rapid rate. “To be honest, we struggled with handling so many refunds at the beginning and we got a lot of complaints,” says Ewig. “But it’s important to listen to everything your customers say — not just the good things. We increased our social media service team so that we could better understand what customers needed from us.”
The more AIDA listened, the better prepared it was to resolve issues and continue to build trust and love amongst customers. This deep listening also guided content creation by providing insight into what types of content would help customers feel connected during the pandemic.
A lasting love
“We’re not interested in short-term relationships with customers,” says Ewig. “We want a relationship that will stand the test of time. We made sure to keep the love for our brand alive during the pandemic, and we hope that we will soon be sailing again with our guests. As a captain once told me, ‘After the storm, there’s always sun.’”