Celebrity Cruises builds database via mobile calls-to-action

By Rachel Lamb
May 2, 2012

Celebrity Cruises is beefing up its database via SMS and QR codes in print advertisements that offer chances to sign up for weekly emails, talk to a representative and enter a sweepstakes.

Taking up real estate in magazines including American Express Publishing’s Departures, Celebrity is looking to target a highly-affluent database. The two-page print ad with technological innovations will likely hook tech-savvy magazine readers.

“SMS calls-to-action often lead to an opt-in relationship with a consumer that is a win for the brand and win for the subscriber if it is based on a value exchange,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA. “We have seen travel brands use SMS to educate, differentiate their products and services and promote sales, especially in reaction to a competitor’s price movement.

“Since text messages are opened up within minutes, the offer is seen in a timely fashion as opposed to an email that may languish in an email inbox overflowing with spam,” he said.

Mr. Hasen is not affiliated with Celebrity, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Celebrity did not respond before press deadline.

Mobile offers
The two mobile calls-to-action in the print ad include SMS and a QR code.

Celebrity is encouraging consumers to text the keyword OFFER to the shortcode 80565 for special offers.

SMS messaging

When users do so, the brand replies with options to proceed:  text 1 for a call from the brand, text 2 for weekly deals via email and text 3 to chat live with an agent.

This seems to be a form of customer service that provides easy access to representatives and brand material.

Another part of the ad is the QR code. The post-scan content is not optimized for mobile, but consumers can see content, images and video if they pinch-and-zoom.

Non-optimized site

Celebrity does, however, have a mobile site.

The ad in Departures is two pages. It includes multiple images and content on different excursions available from Celebrity.

Consumers are also alerted to the Ready to Make an Exit? sweepstakes. This includes a seven-night vacation for two with roundtrip airfare to the port destination.

Celebrity’s ad in Departures

The trip also includes accommodations in an AquaClass stateroom, an exclusive dining experience in Blu restaurant and access to the spa concierge on the ship.

American Express Publishing seems to be hosting the contest, since consumers are told to seek more information at the Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure Web sites. The publisher owns both of these magazines.

Cruising along
Celebrity is one of the only cruise lines that seems to be using mobile marketing to its advantage.

In addition to these efforts, the brand also has a mobile site.

Since many luxury cruise lines are attempting to draw younger consumers, mobile could be a way for them to attract affluent consumers in a cost-effective, convenient and portable medium.

Mobile applications, sites and SMS messaging could help luxury cruise lines to get in contact with consumers on their level.

Also, by building a relationship with consumers early on, they will likely grow up with a relationship to the cruise line and use it when they are older (see story).

Luxury cruise lines can weed out non-affluent consumers through putting their calls-to-action in places that are only accessible to wealthy consumers.

For example, Departures is sent exclusively to 1,080,000 American Express Platinum and Centurian card members with an average household income of $619,000.

“Savvy brands are giving mobile users choice,” Mr. Hasen said. “Consumers, especially affluent ones, do not want to be dictated to – give them an ability to interact with your brand on their terms, not the brand’s.

“We have moved into the era of interactivity,” he said. “Ads without calls-to-action via mobile miss the opportunity that is created when the device is within reach of a consumer all day and all night.

“Consumers are looking to do something when they read a print publication and brands that do not take this into account are living in a bygone era.”