How to Blow Off The Senior Market

Yeah, this post is one of those where I’m annoyed, and I’m really just fulfilling a promise that I made to Norwegian Cruise Lines to smack them upside the head for a terrible cruise experience, but there are several important marketing lessons to be learned in their behavior. Many companies mis-market to the senior market, which is a little surprising, because we have money, we have leisure time, we’re not afraid to go places (most of us)…probably an underserved market.

1. One size doesn’t fit all. When your inbound marketing people are talking to a customer, don’t be afraid to say ‘no, we can’t do that’ or suggest another alternative that might work better for the customer. In Norwegian’s case, they should have said that the Epic cruise we took really wouldn’t work because the ship is too big, noisy, etc. We seniors have been there are done that, and many of us value solitude. No, we don’t want to stay till dawn, unless we’re winning in the casino.

2. Price your services fairly and honestly, and don’t be aftraid to disclose the prices up front, mostly so the customer can tell you whether he/she/they want to continue the discussion. We might be wrong, but we think the Norwegian on-shore excursions are overpriced by about 50%, maybe more, because they’ve got a captive audience. Ask, ‘ok what would for you’, not here’s what we’ve got, yeah it’s overpriced, but it’s cool. Color us not impressed. It’s not about the money. Many seniors don’t mind spending money, but they’re generally value conscious. Especially when one of them has had clients in the tour business.

3. Get your staff up to speed. Make sure your staff can handle the people, and they know what they’re doing. Make sure your senior staff people don’t lie to the customers about how good the staff is at the outset of the relationship. In Norwegian’s case, we didn’t really encounter too many staff that spoke very good English, and they didn’t understand what we were asking them to do (such as clean our cabin at off peak times). If you’re in a service business, render service.

4. Service. If you’re in a service business, be prepared to render service, and make it memorable and outstanding. That’s how you get customers for life. Of course, if you just want the 25-40 set who don’t appreciate service, then you can be sloppy about it. The idea of mandatory gratuities also rankles me. It’s very European (not very American), but that’s not what cuts it these days. Interestingly, the day we disembarked, we had breakfast with an English couple who’d just come off the Princess, which is 50% larger than the Epic, and they said it never seemed like there were 7,000 people aboard.

5. Don’t have a philosphy of ‘if you move, we’ll charge you’. Very short sighted. I recall about 10 years ago, one of the resorts on Paradise Island in the Bahamas had this philosophy, and now they spend a chunk of change every summer on television adverstising for customers.

OK, that’s enough of a rant for one blog. Comments on senior marketing are welcomed.

4. For many seniors, we’d like to feel that we’re on a vacation, not something that approximates work….touring for nine or so hours a day.


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