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The Case Recap
Carnival Cruise Line is leading the cruise industry by offering a fun cruise experience and leading the family market by offering afford family cruise vacations. Carnival has a fleet of 102 ships, however, their popularity has suffered dramatically over the past few years due to several tragic accidents for passengers on their cruises. A cruise ship called Costa Accordia ended up on a sandbar off the coast of Italy resulting in over 4,000 passengers evacuated and 32 deaths. Another cruise ship named “Triumph” experienced an engine room fire, leaving passengers stranded off the coast of Mexico and the ship was towed to port in Alabama. Over the course of several years, Carnival is learning their customers have an enormous platform to express their grievances with their vacation experience through various social media platforms resulting in outstanding media coverage where the world watches and makes their own conclusions. As these events tragically altered how the world views Carnival, those events continue to dramatically influence how Carnival responds to such events and moves to post on Social Media to ensure their customers and the world is aware of the situation at hand. Carnival is becoming transparent because they want to gain the trust and confidence of their clientele.
The world has changed and with that change, gone are the days where people would inform their friends and family their vacation experience days after their return. The incorporation of Social Media results in a lot of people seeing situations unfold before their eyes and allows users to make real-time comments. Ensuring everyone is aware of the situation at hand is amazing, however, the transparency could result in additional issues. People will comment on “the could have”, “the should have”, “why did they do this?”, because there will always be critics. Carnival Cruise Lines struggled with ensuring the safety of their passengers in several incidents and the inadequate response from staff and corporate headquarters forever changed their customer base. Their customers feel negative about Carnival and due to uncertainty of their safety because of mechanical failure, human error, or even passenger accountability, customers are struggling to find reasons to vacation with Carnival Cruise Line.
Root Problem Components
When a situation or problem occurs for any organization, customers expect a response. When a house catches on fire, residents and the neighborhood expect the local Fire Department to enter the scene. A thief commits a crime, generally it is expected for Law Enforcement to investigate or arrest the criminal. Those situations require a rapid response from properly trained professionals, and it is not any different for emergency situations aboard Carnival Cruise Lines. From the videos on social media and news coverage about Carnival, many believed Carnival’s staff lacked proper training regarding those emergency situations resulting in sick passengers, disgruntled passengers, and dead passengers. The media strives to ensure all people are informed of any situation and unfortunately for Carnival Cruise Lines, the media crucified and condemned their actions in front of the whole world.
Carnival Cruise Lines offers a fun-filled vacation cruise to several exclusive destinations for families and first time cruise passengers..
The cost of a Carnival Cruise is around $175.00, which is considerably lower than the industry average. Their price ensures that the cruises are relatively affordable for families and other segments on a tight budget.
Carnival Cruise Lines has vacation destinations across the world. People can take a cruise to Hawaii, tour the Caribbean, or sail to Rome. Carnival takes their customers to exotic destinations where travelers will have a once in a lifetime experience.
Carnival Cruise Lines promotes their product through television advertisements, Social Media advertisements, and when users of the internet search for cruise vacations, Carnival does come to the forefront of those searches.
Carnival seeks segments of families, young couples, new cruise passengers, travelers on a budget. Carnival wants people from all walks of life to experience their Cruise Lines.
The growth of social media provides challenges and opportunities for any organization seeking to stay current and engaged with their current, future, and potential customers. Social media management can assist Carnival Cruise Lines with their branding campaign because it will assist in identifying trends, negating negative or false comments, and increase awareness of Carnival Cruise Lines (Iacobucci, 2015).
Carnival utilizes many social media platforms ensuring that everyone from their passengers, their families, and the public is aware of any emergency occurring aboard any of their cruise ships. When companies enact a positive attitude surrounding social media and understand it is an important tool for their customers, chances are Carnival Cruise Line will benefit from the insights of their patrons (Iacobucci, 2015). Failure to address problems adequately or ensuring awareness will negatively affect their social media presence.
Carnival Cruise Lines must understand information is important, however, reporting information can result in negative feedback and leads to additional questions of how Carnival is responding to the crises. Social Media directly influences how people view the company and for Carnival, there is the potential for disastrous results. Carnival Cruise Line will feel the affects of their inadequate or lack of response to a crisis with the click of a button or posting on Facebook or Twitter. Social Media constantly reminds organizations such as Carnival Cruise Line, they have the power to encourage or discourage customers.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT)
- Carnival Cruise Line has an affordable price point. Their customers can afford go on a cruise and even take their family on a journey across the sea.
- Family style dining is where they encourage the family to be present at the moment and to reconnect with the people in their lives.
- Understanding the importance of transparency and taking responsibility for the disastrous emergencies at sea. Carnival Cruise Line does not place blame on anyone, but takes responsibility by acknowledging and apologizing for the situation and their staff’s response. Carnival Cruise Lines seeks methods to make the situation right with their customer.
- Carnival Cruise Line gives the ideology their passengers will experience an adventure that only they can provide with their destinations or amenities.
- Inability to address the public via Social Media platforms is a weakness in the era of Corporate Social Responsibility. Carnival Cruise Lines must address situations as they occur in real time to ensure the public is aware of emergency issues.
- The first incident occurred in 1972 and thus the company did not address that incident and when another incident was reported in 2013, Carnival Cruise Lines did not learn from the catastrophe of the first incident.
- Inadequately trained and prepared staff for emergency situations. The staff are not aware of how to handle those situations and de-escalation tactics required for the travelers. The staff must prevent the events of mass hysteria and panic for travelers on the sea.
- Immediate responsibility is important because it illustrates to the public, their customers, and other industries they are shouldering the blame working to make the situation right.
- Carnival Cruise Line has an opportunity to create a dedicated Social Media department only concerned with passing correct information on Social Media. The staff must be available 24 / 7 and readily available when there is something that must go on Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms.
- Training for staff in emergency situations and establishing a Disaster Commander role prior to the situation. Is it the Captain? Is it another crew member? Chances are the Captain will be preoccupied with other duties, therefore, it is important to have a trained staff member that has disaster / emergency training for the cruise line.
- Establishing of a Cruise Line Ship Safety program that consist of thorough preventative maintenance checks before a cruise, during a cruise, and after the cruise. In the event they must delay the cruise, it is possible their passengers will understand as Carnival Cruise Lines work to maintain high safety standards.
- Carnival Cruise Lines has an attractive price point and with the incorporation of improvements and increase safety standards, there is the potential for an improved customer base and increased in patrons for the service.
- There are other Cruise Lines that offer increased safety for their passengers, which means patrons will flock to other agencies for a safe vacation experience.
- Other companies manage their Social Media presence and reviews thoroughly addressing concerns and complaints adequately. As a prospective customer seeks to book their vacation via the internet, they will search for reviews. Negative reviews equate to passengers choosing a different Cruise Line. Failure to address the negative reviews is an immediate threat to the bottom line of the Carnival Cruise Line.
- The Carnival Cruise Line or any cruise utilizes fuel for their engines. Increased fuel prices negatively affect the company and will cause an increase in their price. As tensions rise in countries where oil is their main export and political uncertainty, Carnival Cruise Line could experience difficulty in retaining their low prices.
- Other Cruise Lines offer all exclusive vacation packages and even have cruises where celebrities can travel with customers. As Carnival Cruise Line seeks to ensure their prices are low, it is challenging to compete with a Cruise that has a celebrity or even the family friendly Disney Cruise agency.
Carnival Cruise Lines does have alternatives to consider when determining how to maintain their customers. Hiring an outside company to manage their response via social media would make all the difference and assist in negating negative reviews.
Utilizing outside agencies, such as hiring professional trained Security Staff with experience in handling emergency situations to ensure passenger safety and discouraging feelings of hopelessness and hysteria.
Carnival Cruise Lines can mitigate many situations or crises with the incorporation of proper planning. Risk Management is key and an important step and requires the involvement of the Crew and the staff. It is impossible to plan for every situation at hand, but there are many situations that when identified will assist in mitigating other situations. A proper risk management program ensures the staff members receive adequate training and will know how to respond when emergencies arise.
Customer retention is important and when those emergent situations arise, the passengers are directly exposed to the situation. Customers are upset and realize their vacation is ruined. Carnival Cruise Lines should offer non-expiring cruise vouchers for those in those situations and understand that the traveler cannot take an immediate cruise. The voucher should not have an expiration date and cannot be transferred to another patron.
Customer surveys are important and necessary for any entity. For Carnival Cruise Lines, they must know what their customers see as concerns by taking reviewing survey results every quarter. Implementation of changes if necessary, must occur within six months. Carnival Cruise Line must report they are listening to their customers and enacting change for these customers and future customers.
- Iacobacci, D. (2018). Marketing Management. (5th. ed.). Stamford, CT. Cengage.
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