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Cruise Industry Demand and Conversion Insights

What you will gain from this report

In recent years, the cruise industry has grown and has forecasted continued growth to come. Competes data shows the segment of shoppers considering online cruises has increased 20% from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012. This report provides insight into demand and conversion effectiveness of the cruise industry by quantifying the size of the online cruise market, traffic to key players websites and the rate at which cruise lines convert shoppers into bookers. This analysis leverages Competes proprietary site visitor metrics, which are based on unique consumers (i.e., no double-counting of consumers doing the same activity more than once in a month) and Competes patented normalization technology which projects to the U.S. population.

Riding the wave of demand

The total number of North American cruise line passengers is projected to grow from 11 million in 2010 to approximately 13 million in 2012 and 14 million by 2015*. Competes data correlates with regard to continued growth in the cruise space. Compete reported an average 7.5 million people per month shopping for cruises online in Q1 2012. This is stronger demand than any individual month in 2011 and marked a same-quarter increase of 20% vs. prior year.

U.S. Cruise Line Unique Visitor (UV) Volume




7.5M 5.9M

Q1 2011

Q2 2011

Q3 2011

Q4 2011

Q1 2012

Number of market-wide unique visitors to the cruise line category Q1 2011-Q1 2012 *Growth statistics sourced from www.cruisemarketwatch.com

The big fishCarnival

Among the major cruise lines Carnival captures the largest share of overall cruise traffic-at an average of 34% since January 2011. However for Carnival, this is a moderate increase of 5% year-over-year. Princess has seen the strongest improvement of the major players, consistently outpacing or on par with Norwegian (NCL) since Q3 2011. Demand for Princess has increased 24% year-over-year to 18.4% in Q1 2012.

Share of overall cruise shoppers each site captures, Q1 2011-Q1 2012

40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0 Q1 2011 Carnival.com Q2 2011 Q3 2011 Q4 2011 Princess.com Q1 2012 NCL.com


Demand alone wont stop you from sinking

From a pure demand perspective, the cruise industry is outpacing the overall travel industry which is setting up the cruise industry for strong YoY revenue growth. However, like all growing industries, it is not only important to drive demand, but also to capitalize on this increased demand. Historically, cruise lines have had a difficult time converting online shoppers into online bookers resulting in the lowest conversion rates in the industry. On average, since January 2011 the online cruise industry has only been able to convert 0.8% of their online shoppers, significantly trailing conversion rates for the rental car, air and hotel supplier segments (19%, 11%, and 9% respectively). Recognizing considered purchases like cruises are often researched online but purchased offline, there is an increasing opportunity to grow the bottom line by enhancing the information/resources needed to boost online conversion.

U.S. Avgerage Monthly Conversion by Travel Industry, Jan. 11 March 12

Rental Car

19.2% 10.8% 9.2% 0.8%




Conversion equivalent to a close rate (online bookers/ unique site visitors).

Looking Ahead:
While cruise demand has increased over 2011, the industrys inability to convert shoppers continues to hamper growth to the bottom line. In advance of the summer mini-wave season and the 2012-13 primary wave season, cruise lines might consider looking to Compete to measure and provide actionable recommendations on the following:

H ow can the industry emulate the online booking success of other travel segments? W hich site features for other travel segments can be leveraged as key purchase indicators, and how does engagement differ between cruise line sites and OTAs for these purchase indicators? A re OTAs effectively positioning cruise vs. other forms of travel? To what extent are cruise lines leveraging partnerships with non-cruise travel players?

About Kantar Media Compete

Kantar Media Compete is passionate about understanding consumers to inspire great marketing. Kantar Media Compete helps the worlds top brands improve their marketing based on the online behavior of millions of consumers. Leading advertisers, agencies and publishers rely on Kantar Media Competes products and services to create engaging online experiences and highly profitable advertising campaigns. Kantar Media Competes online panel-the largest in the industry-makes the web as ingrained in marketing as it is in peoples lives. Kantar Media Compete is located in Boston, MA, with offices across the US, UK and France. For more information, please visit http://www.compete.com/.

Learn More
For more information about Competes role in advancing the online marketing effectiveness in online services, please contact:
Ryan Williams
Director, Client Services, Travel rwilliams@compete.com 206.226.9082

Tim Beagen
Sales Director, Travel tbeagen@compete.com 617.933.5657

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