Comments from Crisisblogger on the Carnival Cruise lines communications ended up in this Marketing Daily article today.
It’s a good article with some good comments (not referring to mine of course) and shows the linkage between crisis communication and marketing. That in itself is an interesting issue. Marketing folks, of course, would want the story to go away as quickly as possible. To highlight it more on the website as I suggested might seem counter-productive to marketing. But the issue overall is the brand and its perception. As one commenter on the post noted, 3000 people on the ship are going to be telling their stories and they won’t be pretty. The company has to be fully engaged in the post-incident story telling.
I think there was a more important marketing issue missed, however. And that is the impact on the whole industry. An incident like this affects everyone in the cruise business and almost to the same degree. Unless they can show that they are immune to the kind of problem that Carnival experienced, the same questions raised in customers’ minds apply to every other cruise line. While its relatively straight forward what Carnival needs to do both during and after an event, what should the others do.
I think an important lesson can be taken here from the oil industry response to the gulf spill. All others understood their own vulnerabilities and the questions that would be asked, specifically of deepwater drilling. They put forward a solution very quickly–a billion dollar fund to dramatically improve the entire industry’s ability to respond to a Macondo-type event.
While I am not suggesting that the Carnival situation has anywhere near the same impact on the cruise industry as Macondo has on the oil industry–particularly Gulf and deepwater drilling, the troubles of Carnival will definitely impact the industry. Because these crises are not just a single-player issue, the solutions need to involve the entire industry. I suspect nothing like this will be done. More likely the reaction will be to keep their heads low, hope and pray that no engine room fires happen to them.