RIPPLE EFFECT


Image vs. Experience

June 11th, 2009

My wife and I recently came back from our honeymoon. We went on a 6-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Freedom. What an awesome ship by the way – the food, staff and entertainment were great! The experience as a whole was amazing, but there were some things that stuck out in my mind probably because I work in advertising and marketing. They have to do with their brand image and how it doesn’t completely match up to the expected customer experience.

Carnival came out with their new ‘Fun Ship’ campaign a little bit ago consisting of such tactics as TV commercials and web ads. It positions themselves apart from the competition by focusing on how they provide fun all ages. One of their supporting taglines is ‘Fun for All / All for Fun’. I don’t know if they are too focused on the ‘fun’ aspect of their image and are forgetting about the smaller things but some of them seem to be slipping through the cracks. These small things can really affect how people will rate their overall experience. That can be bad for Carnival because they take their customer ratings pretty seriously. Anything less than an ‘exceeded expectation’ score is a failure in their minds.

Each evening you receive an itinerary called the ‘Carnival Capers’, along with a pretty sweet towel creature, outlining everything you will need to know for the next day of your trip (i.e. eating times, activities, on-board specials, etc). I kept finding mistakes with spelling, grammar, layout and some of the listed information. This may be a sign that they really need some on-board production artists and proofreaders. Those would be pretty sweet gigs, cruising the open seas and visiting some gorgeous places while working. Anyways, the majority of people might not have even noticed all of the mistakes like I did or they did and just didn’t care. In our line of work you usually always make an attempt to cover the ‘what ifs’ since people aren’t always 100% predictable.

You’d think that Carnival would want to continue the great customer experience by making sure everything from soup to nuts was presented to their customers in an acceptable manner. The mistakes really made the itineraries look cheap and like they were an afterthought. They are sort of your lifeline while aboard the ship if you want to take advantage of what is being offered. Another thing was the debarkation process, the how to de-board the ship if you will. The instructions they initially provided you during the briefing meeting the day before were a bit different from what was delivered to your stateroom later that evening. This caused confusion the morning you were to leave the ship. People really get antsy and frustrated on this morning. I just think that they need to have all of their plans more solidified especially since the company wants to exceed everyone’s expectations.

I’m pretty easy going so these issues really didn’t affect my experience but you could tell some of the issues really frustrated a lot of others.  I completely understand that vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing but there are always certain things that come up. These things can really end up being a deal breaker for those who want to cruise again, that customer loyalty won’t be there. Especially since Carnival always wants to exceed every customer’s expectation, it just doesn’t add up for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll definitely cruise with them again. I can’t get the melting chocolate cake desert out of my head. They have a good thing going and I just think they are missing out on a great opportunity to really come full circle with their overall customer experience.

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One Comment to “Image vs. Experience”

There’s just not as much attention to detail as there used to be. This is a direct indicator that pride in work doesn’t motivate people like it used to.

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Image vs. Experience

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“The experience as a whole was amazing, but there were some things that stuck out in my mind probably because I work in advertising and marketing. They have to do with their brand image and how it doesn’t completely match up to the expected customer experience.”

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