Case Study

Scenic Cruises A world of wonders awaits

The Scenic Diamond ship in Bordeaux

Expertise Provided

  • Paid Advertising Strategy & Management (Google, Facebook, Instagram Ads)
  • Reporting
  • SEO

If ever a cruise line was well-positioned to rebound from COVID-19, it would be Scenic Luxury Tours and Cruises, the global river and ocean cruising line based in Australia.

By the very nature of their design, Scenic’s vessels are right-sized for safe-distancing while navigating the waterways of Europe, South-Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. Even it’s first entry into ocean cruising, the Eclipse — the world’s first ‘discovery’ yacht launched in 2019 — is size-appropriate to ameliorate safety concerns.

The Challenge

The timing of the company’s original 2009 entry into the Canadian marketplace had been less than fortuitous. Globally the river cruise market was an increasingly saturated market and as is often the case with sector-leading companies, its competitors had adopted a ‘me too’ approach to marketing.

Scenic had leaned heavily into traditional media such as offline publications and radio and television campaigns for its Canadian launch, just as it had done to great success in other geographic markets. Over the succeeding decade it embraced the digital space relying on its internal resources supplemented by independent contractors.

The result was year-over-year growth in the business but like all cruise lines in 2018, downward trends began to appear. The challenges faced by its marketers were universal to virtually every company practicing online marketing: digital marketing innovation had the potential outstrip the ability of its internal software and practitioners to adapt. Recognizing this possibility, Scenic turned to Apparatus for strategic guidance on how it could side-step the challenges of platform obsolescence and more importantly, do so while delivering improved results.

As with any outside digital marketing supplier, the company expected dramatic improvements in SEO rankings and paid advertising metrics for river cruising. Even more crucial was the need to secure new branded and non-branded terms for the Eclipse, the jewel in Scenic’s crown which cost a quarter billion US dollars to build and was to herald its entry into the global ocean cruising world. Unlike its established ‘river’ online marketing programs, its  ‘ocean’ campaigns were to be built from the ground up, addressing new audiences for which the company had no pre-existing data.

Middle-aged couple doing a tour inside a church

The results

For SEO, the Apparatus team wrestled any and all technical and tracking challenges to the ground, even uncovering and resolving many previously unknown issues. On-branded terms for river cruising shot upwards by multiple triple-digits percentages and new branded terms for the Eclipse quickly secured first-page rankings.

Similarly, for paid campaigns, Apparatus pulled every conceivable leading-edge lever in its strategic blitz. It used automation at every turn and quickly defined best-converting audiences. Accounts were optimized around macro conversions (versus all conversions) and key metrics with the result that river cruise inquiries and brochure downloads skyrocketed. For the Eclipse, Apparatus tapped Google, YouTube, Bing and Facebook to generate awareness and drive leads for this exciting, valuable new product.

Happily Scenic had put itself in the best of positions as the pandemic hit and now the long reach to recovery will be very much within its grasp.