My husband and I just got back from a cruise.  We have been cruising on Royal Caribbean for quite a while and made it up to the Platinum status on this trip.  Now Royal Caribbean has a Crown and Anchor program that is designed to build loyalty and keep you cruising on their cruise line instead of trying out all different ships.

There were two parts to this loyalty program- 1) a booklet that gives you discounts on drinks, etc on the ship and 2) free logo gifts that were left in your stateroom half way through the trip.

As we have moved up the ranks from silver to gold we found that during each cruise they would put a “you are valued” gift in our state room.  They ranged from hats to t-shirts and bags.  The great thing about all these gifts is they all had their logo on them.  They usually gave them to you in the middle of the cruise.  So imagine what it looks like on the third day of the cruise when you have a ton of people streaming off the ship all with their new Royal Caribbean cruise hats on.

It was a brilliant program because it did the following:

  1. It generated buzz among the other passengers as they wanted to know where you got your hat and how they could get one.
  2. It made all of us Crown and Anchor passengers into sales people for the cruise line.
  3. It made all the Crown and Anchor passengers feel valued and special.
  4. It made you loyal to the cruise line because you wanted to get to the next level of gifts.

Now as you can imagine the cruise line has been hit by the economy, as well.  So for this cruise, we had made it to the Platinum level and no gifts.  They still did the reward book in your room but they told us they dispensed with the gifts in April of this last year.

Now think about this, the premise behind a loyalty program is to create loyalty to your product.  It is designed to get people so excited that they can’t help but start to sell you to others and never want to think about leaving you.

What they kept in the program was the coupon book- the part of the loyalty program that the members see but that no one else on the ship sees.  So they got rid of their silent sales force in a sense.

Now for being loyal members and moving UP the ladder we now got less than when we were just starting to cruise with them.  In a sense there is no real reason to keep being loyal to this cruise line versus trying another cruise line.

This is a good example of a premise that has gone wrong.  They were trying to save money but in reality this will cost them a lot in the end.  They would have been better off changing the types of gifts given by the different levels.

Keep this in mind as you build your business.  You want to create raving fans that talk about you and generate even more business for you as “mini” sales people. Don’t get lost in the economy so you lose focus of your premise.

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