From Seattle to New England and around the country as more than 110 million Americans are preparing to watch the biggest sporting event of the year this Sunday, Feb. 1, around 55 million adults also are beginning to think about their vacations. In fact, our research and experience tell us that 25 million people who will take vacations in the summer months are making their plans right now.
According to ForbesLife Executive Woman, women play an out-sized role in deciding when, where and how they and their loved ones will spend their vacation time together – making 70% of all travel decisions.
Fortunately, while women tend to do more of the work when it comes to vacation planning, they also get more rewards from a vacation – in the form of relaxation and enjoyment – than do men. That’s true for any type of vacation, but that “reward gap” is widest when it comes to taking a cruise. Make no mistake, men really like cruises, too. But women like everything about cruising by significantly greater margins than do men, according to new research we conducted with 15,000 adults in the United States.
Three of Carnival Corporation’s nine global brands are led by women. I asked a couple of them why there seems to be such an imbalance between men and women in vacation planning.
“The stress of being a working mom and wife can be pretty relentless. I know my stress doesn’t end just because I leave the office at the end of the day,” says Jan Swartz, President of our Princess Cruises. “That’s why I enjoy going on a cruise. I can almost physically feel that burden being lifted off my shoulders as soon as I walk onboard. I know my children will be well-cared for and supervised while having a great time. And I can unplug and relax with my husband in ways we just can’t at home, or on any other type of vacation.”
Recently-appointed Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy also understands, at both the professional and personal level, the special value women get out of a cruise. The one-time travel agent who has more than 30 years of experience as a travel industry executive wasn’t hired because she’s a woman. But her intimate understanding of what women want when they travel means Carnival’s already intense focus on attracting female passengers with accommodations, events and services tailored to their desires will only grow and become more sophisticated.
“I took my honeymoon on a cruise, and I’ve enjoyed a number of cruises with my immediate and extended family and friends over the years,” Duffy says. “The very nature of a cruise appeals to women, and it changes based on who we are traveling with and whether we want to relax or be pampered, visit new places, let our hair down and just have fun. Having been on cruises when our children were younger and now that they are grown and bringing along their significant others creates a whole new experience for our family. We love the fact that cruising offers something for every stage of life.”
Our research shows that cruising in particular plays well to women’s wants and needs. Seven out of 10 women who’ve taken at least one cruise say that a cruise provides “a great escape from everyday life and everyday responsibilities.”
For those women whose idea of getting away from the pressures back home includes high voltage activity and adventure today’s ships feature world class workout and sports facilities, nonstop and exciting shipboard activities, and a wide variety of excursions that range from tame strolls through picturesque port towns to more physically-demanding challenges like scuba diving. Today’s cruise ships also are like floating spas that offer everything from exotic beauty treatments and massages to quiet adult-only areas.
There also a growing number of opportunities for onboard learning at the feet of experts. Top chefs or chocolatiers regularly share their tricks in onboard cooking classes. Sommeliers and master vintners host wine tastings and seminars. Professional dancers teach all the latest moves seen on TV. And world-class academics and thought leaders share their knowledge and insight on special themed cruises.
At night, of course, cruise ships feature 5-star resort food and beverages, dancing, casinos, dazzling entertainment and the romance of sailing quietly and elegantly under the moon and stars.
So, not only do we know that women take highly active roles in planning vacations, we increasingly know the many reasons why. And armed with that knowledge we’re busy evolving our accommodations and services so that the already great vacation value we offer becomes an ever-better way to give women – and men – the meaningful and memorable relief from stress that they crave.
Though our individual cruise lines are frequent advertisers, our parent company, Carnival Corporation will launch our first-ever ad campaign this Sunday during the Big Game. Several of the potential ads that we could run during the game are squarely aimed at women. We filmed four potential ads and will decide which one to run based on research that includes a marketing challenge at WorldsLeadingCruseLines.com. Because nearly half of this year’s viewers of pro football’s title game this year will be women the target audience is perfect for us.
Now we need your help. We are asking you to vote for the one ad you think we should run. Two of these ads are aimed squarely at women (one features a young girl discovering the romance of cruising; the other a woman going to extremes to escape the pressures of everyday life and experience and enjoy exotic life on a cruise). A third has a more edgy, humorous cross-gender appeal. The fourth is an intriguing “mystery spot”. See them here – The Carnival Marketing Challenge – and vote (as many times as you want) for your favorite.
One name will be drawn from among all those who vote for the winning spot and will win a free cruise each year for the rest of their life. Whether that name is a man or a woman, we are sure they and their guest of choice will enjoy the experience of a free cruise every year for life.
WOMEN LIKE CRUISES EVEN MORE THAN DO MEN
Male Female Dif.
Helps me feel like every detail is taken care of 55% 64% 9%
Is a great way to discover new destinations 52% 61% 9%
Exposes me to experiences I had never had before 51% 59% 8%
Provides a great escape from everyday life and responsibilities 61% 71% 11%
Source: Survey of 15,000 Adults in the USA who have been on at least one cruise. Scores represent percentage of respondents who “Strongly Agreed” or “Very Strongly Agreed” with the statement. Fall 2014, Carnival Corporation & PLC