In a previous post I talked about how Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line, is branching out into the realm of ocean cruising, using much the same successful model they’ve used to build a river cruise empire around the globe.
Today I want to talk about the customers they’ve built that river cruise empire around: baby boomers.
In an informative article in Travel Weekly, detailing a press conference that marked the naming of ten new Viking Longships this spring, Viking’s chairman and CEO Torstein Hagen was blunt about his target market: “people with some curiosity, who have worked hard and earned some money. They haven’t had time to see these places — and not just see, but experience the culture. They’re grown-up people. They speak English. They are 55-plus.”
Hagen then continued to say, “We have no need whatsoever to say we want some younger people onboard…We don’t encourage [inter]generational travel. We market to North Americans, Brits, Australians. Nothing else…It is for people like me who want to have a quiet time and travel with people like myself.”
The approach is working. Viking claims to have run at more than 96 percent capacity for 2012, and, even in the wake of adding 40 percent more capacity in 2013 with its new Longships, Hagen says most of its Europe cabins are sold out through this October.
Viking is a prime example of one of the basic rules of marketing: know thy target customers and go after them, like a laser beam. When sales are soft, Hagen told the press, Viking will employ direct mail, trade ads, Web ads and television.
And they’re targeting one key market: baby boomers. Baby boomers who have money, curiosity, and time to spend on a river cruise in Europe, Russia, Asia and Egypt.
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