I recently took an audience poll on my social media pages to get an idea about the popularity of the cruise line industry among vacationers. And to see if it’s replacing or competing with the hotel industry. It all started with an article I read about Variety cruises, which is one among the leading small ship cruises. If you take a quiz on their website you may have a chance to win a cruise for 2 to Bali. You can take the quiz here. This got me thinking if I had two options – cruise vs hotel accommodations, which would I choose? Thus, began my research to understand the changing landscape of the hospitality and tourism industries.
There are many research articles written about consumer behavior in the tourism industry. However, there aren’t enough extensive works of literature to understand the link between the cruise line and the hotel industry. And how consumer behavior is affecting them.
Cruise vs Hotel Accommodations
Lately, there is a growing sense of awareness around the interconnection between the travel and hotel industries. Although cruises can be technically classified under the travel industry since it is a mode of transportation, it is also closely related to the hotel industry because it provides accommodation. Both these are linked to the hospitality industry. Since they focus on providing customers with unique experiences and entertainment options along with accommodation. Although recent statistics indicate that there is growth in the cruise industry, there is also increased competition from the hotel industry.
Here is an attempt to make a detailed comparison between the cruise and hotel accommodations. By identifying their similarities, differences and focusing on the pros and cons of each. So, this is what I uncovered about the cruise ships and hotel industries and consumer behavior’s effect on these industries
Comparison between Cruise Line industry and Hotel Industry
From a consumer point of view, during a weeklong vacation on a cruise one can visit many places without planning logistics, without packing and unpacking multiple times. A USP for cruises is the unique and personalized engagement with customers through various on-board activities and entertainment. These can be experienced only on a cruise. This makes customers feel prioritized and encourages loyalty and trust. A cruise is most of the time on the move. So, it can avoid places with bad weather and change routes. Unlike the situation on the land wherein a hotel or a resort one can do nothing about a bad weather day. If you’re planning a business event a standard cruise price is inclusive of onboarding, meals, venue, activities, and décor. This will likely work out cheaper than a hotel and comes with ease of planning as most of the work is done by the cruise staff.
In recent times the check-in process and disembarking process on a cruise have improved a great deal. This is because of technology, making it easier and less time-consuming than what it was some years ago.
Generally, the standard cruise fare will include onboarding, accommodation, meals, some on-board activities, and shortstops at various destinations. Extra charges will apply for the many amenities and services like short excursions or spas. This can sometimes can turn out to be quite expensive, which could depend on factors like peak and off-peak seasons.
Another disadvantage if you choose to go on a cruise is access to the internet. On a cruise, you are most likely to struggle with internet or network connectivity issues. Otherwise, you need to pay extra for on-board Wi-Fi access with no guarantee that there will be continuous connection available throughout your journey.
The obvious reason for people to choose hotels instead of a cruise is that around 90% of the people are prone to some kind of motion sickness. And seasickness is very common. Even those who regularly sail can experience motion sickness and tend to take a series of precautions. This is one problem you won’t face while you are at a hotel. A hotel can also feel more personalized and give a customer a ‘home away from home’ feeling. Another advantage is that a standard hotel room is a lot more spacious and bigger with more privacy than a standard cruise cabin. In a hotel guests can feel a strong sense of security because of the round the clock security service provided.
In recent times, the hotel industry is more focused on using technology as a strategy. To provide more personalized assistance and services to customers and this gives it a competitive advantage.
One of the main drawbacks of a hotel is that the customer is stuck in one place if the weather gets bad. Additionally, local transportation and other logistics such as bookings for services have to be planned. Especially, if one wants to get out of the hotel and visit other places. A standard hotel room with some basic amenities tends to be more expensive than a standard cabin on a cruise ship. However, it is true that generally customers do not make a choice based on just one factor like pricing.
In conclusion, it can be understood that both the cruise ship and the hotel industries are unique. They provide different and distinctive advantages catering to a wide range of customers. Yet they are interlinked in many ways. Such as shared common interests like customer relationships and revenue management. With the help of technology, the cruise line industry is increasingly improving the customer experience and other on-board services. This is to compete with the hotel industry. For instance, many cruise lines now provide app-based platforms for pre-booking a lot of the services. They have also made drastic progress over the years in providing a better internet connection.
Nowadays there is a lot of information available around preventing seasickness or motion sickness with ease. The pros and cons discussed in this article can help decide which option will best fit one’s requirement. For example – you can choose a cruise ship if there is an interest to visit multiple destinations and go on short excursions without much planning. Otherwise, choose a hotel room if you are looking to just relax and stroll around the beach and the city.
One can also consider choosing a hotel over a cruise if there is a need for access to a continuous network connection. Although there is no natural crossover between the industries, lately hotels like Ritz Carlton have begun to introduce cruise ships of their own in a way to face competition. This shows that there is room for potential metamorphosis for both the industries in the future.
COVID-19 Update: Bankrate, Inc. provides an in-depth overview of how travelers can protect themselves if they are looking to cancel or rebook their trips. You can read further here.