Originally posted by: CruisingCM
1. YES. Consumers who are new to cruising often begin setting their expectations based on advertising hype. The opinions of friends/family who are veteran cruisers (and remember the old days of cruising elegance as a truly inclusive experience) also contribute. The cruise lines do themselves a major disservice as a result. We are very interested to know if statistics support our belief that the percentage of one-and-done passengers is on the upswing. Even if consumers are not disappointed in the service level, they will likely be completely disillusioned with the uncharging and nickel-and-diming culture that has become the norm on common, popular lines.
We also believe there is a demographic issue in play (for US consumers anyway). Many members of post-baby boomer generations have grown up with different parenting models. The everybody-gets-a-trophy and consensual family decision-making models drive expectations throughout all aspects of subsequent life, including job hunting, performance, management, etc. These have been documented in business literature. It's an entitlement mindset. We do not believe that the cruise lines seriously factor this into their current marketing approaches (assuming the desired outcome is to cultivate life-long cruisers).
When consumers are disenchanted with their cruising experience, not only do they not return for a next cruise... they share their experiences with a well-connected social network. Ultimately, a below-expectation experience taints the very customer base which is being so aggressively courted today. You see it in the reviews of some cruisers on this site. How many cruising disappointments are posted as low rating reviews (with or without justification)? Prospective customers take these opinions into consideration (or they should).
On this point, we feel that adding a survey question to the point of "Based on the expectation set by the cruise line's marketing and advertising, did your cruise experience live up to the hype?" (or similar) would be a valuable. This tidbit of information informs cruise lines as to the over-hype risk of their ads. Of course, this applies to cruise lines that are serious about cultivating long-term relationships with their customers. If short-term revenue gain is the goal, this additional information probably does not add value.
Lastly, we see an increasing problem that seems to be associated with people not taking time to careful read and understand their cruise passenger agreement/ contract. How many times do we see complaints about missed ports, itinerary changes, beverage package limitations, etc. in posted reviews or on social media? Some people get all knotted about it but it is clearly spelled out in the cruise contract. Simply reading the cruise contract will help reduce the disappointment factor to some degree (but not all). Caveat emptor.
2. In line with the previous response (and assuming we understand the original question), YES. We believe the same mentality applies across cruise and non-cruise experiences alike. Online reviews of restaurants and other businesses tend to reflect a similar mindset in terms of expectations versus reality.
3. NO... you will not be disappointed because you are a very well-informed consumer with scads of cruising experience. You know better than to believe the hype lock-stock-and-barrel.