Lindblad Taps Next-Gen Digital Marketing to Fill Cruise Ships

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Lindblad Expeditions, which operates small ships with adventurous themes, is seeing traction with savvier digital marketing. But it’s taking time for the company to get back in the black.

Lindblad Expeditions’ occupancy soared in the first months of the year thanks to marketing investments paying off with more first-time guests, executives said during a Wednesday earnings call.

Occupancy in the first quarter hit 81 percent — up from 66 percent a year ago. Executives attributed this to stronger consumer confidence and returns on marketing improvements. They expect occupancy to continue to ramp up this year but not reach pre-pandemic levels until a future year.

Over the last two years, the cruise and adventure travel experiences company has invested in an omnichannel marketing approach. Previously, the marketing was primarily brochures, company founder letters, direct mail, and targeted emails.

The new investments include digital components like search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and enhanced analytics. The new approach has sourced a higher number of first-time guests.

Lindblad’s guest mix for the quarter was more from the U.S. than international. Return guest numbers are growing, but new guests are growing a little faster, said Lindblad Expeditions CEO Dolf Berle.

Bookings for 2023 are over 40 percent higher than their pre-pandemic level in 2019 for 2020 trips. Cancellations are falling, but they are still higher than in 2019. Executives attribute this to declining fears about Covid, implementing more strict cancellation policies, and quarantine requirement removals.

Revenue totaled $143.4 million, up $75.5 million year over year. The primary revenue drivers were the Lindblad tours segment’s $65.2 million increase and land experiences segment’s $10.3 million increase.

Net loss amounted to $0.4 million in the quarter, an improvement from a net loss of $43 million in the comparable period a year earlier. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization was $27.2 million — up $48.4 million from the same period.

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