The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Is the Measurement Menace of the Month

The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association recently bragged about its multi-year marketing strategy, yet listed some of the worst metrics ever reported for an integrated communications campaign. None—not a single one—of those ten dead-in-the-water “metrics” reflect business value, and/or increased passenger preference, or consideration, or purchase. They mean nothing to anyone but the self-aggrandizing FCCA. And also, apparently, some clueless SABRE award judges, who somehow chose the FCCA for a Gold award. The FCCA appears far more interested in congratulating itself on a busy day at the office than actually getting results for its members. (One of which, Carnival Corporation, owned the Costa Concordia, shown above.)

I have no doubt that the campaign was well-designed and implemented. (I’m not someone who would ever get on a cruise ship, so I didn’t experience it.) It might even have worked to increase sales or revenue or some other measure of business success, but you’d never know it from their metrics.

The closest they got was an unspecific and vague: “Showed a measurable improvement in terms of those who would not delay booking/taking a Caribbean cruise vacation.” I guess we are supposed to assume that “not delay” means that if they might possibly be considering a cruise, then they wouldn’t put off the decision till next year or some later date. Which I guess might mean a shorter sales cycle, but it seems like a stretch. I still am not sure how it would actually translate into revenue. I’d love to hear the explanation.

The rest of the metrics were even less seaworthy. You can read about the whole scurvy lot in the article. Here I recap some of the worst:

“Generated 5.77 billion impressions” First of all, need I repeat that there are only 7 billion people on the planet? Of those 7 billion, I doubt that more than a tiny fraction can afford to go on a cruise. Not to mention those people whose location, religion, or culture precludes several days of Yo Ho Ho! and several bottles of rum while floating around in the Caribbean. Of all that unfathomably huge number of impressions, how many were actually effective?

My point is not that lots of impressions is bad thing, it’s that “a bazillion impressions” is not a meaningful or useful metric. It doesn’t tell you anything, except perhaps that marketers enjoy colluding to congratulate each other with phony numbers.

“12,000 media placements and 18.5 K shares of news stories” Is there any evidence that any of these actually reached the target audience? Did anyone actually click on a website, or do something—anything— else that indicated a response? Again, just as for impressions, bragging about activity is not a useful metric.

“PSAs with more than 30 celebrities” Same problems as above. Who cares if it was 30, 23, or 1,001 celebrities? Did anyone respond to the calls to action? How do they know that Fabio or Charo or whoever was effective or worth the resources involved?

Media calls, interviews, advertising campaigns, digital and social campaigns: These are not metrics, these are someone’s to-do list. Nice to know you got them done, FCCA. But unless you tell me what they cost and how many conversions they generated, they mean nothing to anyone but you. And even then you can’t tell if they were effective or worth the effort.

“Gained the support of [trade associations]” Again, an activity, not a metric. It could be interesting if it was something like, “Doubled the percentage of members and associations that support our campaign.” But doing that fifth-grade arithmetic was apparently beyond FCCA’s ability. Or maybe the results weren’t worth bragging about.

So it is with great pleasure we name the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association our Measurement Menace of the Month. I hope their ships are more seaworthy than their metrics.

And if the FCCA or any others of you want to know how to measure and evaluate travel and tourism correctly, you might want to check out Paine Publishing’s eBook on how to measure destination and travel and tourism marketing. ∞

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