A growing taste for authentic experiences is increasingly turning the US travel market towards nature-focused and activity holidays. More and more Americans see the rugged, wild beauty of Antarctica, the Arctic and the fjord-cracked coastline of Scandinavia as the ideal backdrop to an exhilarating, close-to-nature vacation.
For many travelers the best way to enjoy the culture and majestic natural scenery of these remote regions is in the comfort, security and relaxed atmosphere of ‘experiential cruising’.
This has presented Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten, with 120 years’ experience sailing to wild and remote destinations, with some fantastic opportunities for development and growth.
Their unique, differentiated brand is already successfully established in Germany, Norway, France, the UK and elsewhere. Now, with American travel and lifestyle trends changing, the economy recovering and consumer spend increasing, market conditions for experiential cruising have never been better.
“America is now a very strategic market for us,” says Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten’s CEO.
A changing marketplace – a growing opportunity
With its ability to offer authentic experiences, Hurtigruten is perfectly positioned to meet evolving American travel and lifestyle trends. But even for a company of Hurtigruten’s experience, entering one of the world’s most promising leisure travel markets isn’t without its challenges. With North America’s complex network of travel agents offering no real economy of scale, the cost of reaching and engaging with target consumers is high … a problem that many companies have struggled to address.
On top of this, the market itself is undergoing significant change as consumers explore, learn about and shop for travel in increasingly diverse ways.
While many still book directly or choose the convenience of full-service travel agencies, increasingly Hurtigruten’s prime customers – Baby Boomers and Gen X – only commit after extensive online research, using social media to check out others’ experiences.
In such a fluid marketplace, success depends on creating an ‘easy to buy, easy to sell’ environment in which obstacles to ‘seamless sales’ are largely removed.
To do that consistently requires a marketing partner with the capability to bring together marketing, sales, reservations and back office services in a way that’s designed specifically for the world’s largest cruise market.
Given our expertise in sales channel management and integrated marketing solutions, Hurtigruten turned to us … Global Voyages Group.
The GVG difference
GVG has been working with Hurtigruten since 2011, initially as a service provider, then in a more creative and strategic marketing role, as
Hurtigruten came to understand how our expertise and insight could help them identify and capitalize both on seller and consumer opportunities in the sector.
“We wanted a much more aggressive approach for the North American market, and expect significant growth in the years to come,” says Daniel Skjeldam. “GVG’s extensive experience in the growing expedition-style category, as well as with Alaska tourism, makes them an ideal partner.”
A complete end-to-end solution
We have earned a reputation in the marketplace for being able to offer a ‘soup to nuts solution’, integrating marketing technology, sales and distribution expansion with exceptional reservations services.
“We have been able to do everything Hurtigruten wanted and more,” says David Giersdorf, president of Global Voyages Group, “and this has been key in their achieving the significant growth they wanted in the US market.”
Our thorough understanding of customer demographics, shopping behavior and market conditions means we are able to advise strategically on the creative development and planning of high-end, experiential travel products, as well as pricing and subsequent management.
That knowledge and experience gives us the ability to target marketing budgets at those most likely to buy Hurtigruten’s type of product, so time and expense aren’t wasted on a ‘scatter gun’ approach.
At a tactical level, our focus on using best-in-class marketing technology means that Hurtigruten is able to use every marketing dollar to maximum effect, firstly to generate new consumer leads, then to create a real-time experience of sharing and advocacy through the effective use of social media. Automated online systems, high level database management,
direct marketing, advertising and PR all add to the completeness of the marketing service we offer.
To help position Hurtigruten as company that offers a totally unique, active and participatory vacation experience, we also organize training sessions and webinars for key sellers.
To the traditional travel agency network we provide online support. We have also opened up new B2B channels, creating and developing fresh relationships and joint marketing ventures with online agencies, special interest travel sellers, destination marketing organizations, non-travel affinity organizations and affiliate sites.
On top of this, our call center provides a dedicated resource that integrates sales and marketing programs with phone, email and click-to- chat options, providing multiple ‘touch points’ to suit individual consumers. Being cloud-based, the call center facility is highly cost-effective, with no hardware or infrastructure necessary beyond workstations and headsets. The ability of teams to work from any computer with an internet connection makes staffing and shift scheduling much easier too.
With full reporting and CRM systems in place, we give Hurtigruten the essential KPIs they need to assess and adjust their offering to the market. These results-driven metrics are then brought together with back office services, like booking confirmations, invoicing, payment processing, fulfillment systems and essential documentation to create an exceptionally streamlined process.
Finally, our accounting and finance teams give the additional support needed for effective management of purchase orders, budgets, payroll and benefits and commissions.
Results and benefits
Our game-changing approach has helped Hurtigruten break into the North American market far more effectively and efficiently than it otherwise might.
The results have proven exceptional: Details withheld.