Dolphins Cheerleaders Wrap Up Photo Shoot on MSC Seaside

Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders on MSC Seaside

The Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders have wrapped up their 2018 annual photo shoot aboard the MSC Seaside.

More than 20 of the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders sailed to the Caribbean recently, with the ship serving as the backdrop for photo and video shoots.

The Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Annual is set to be released at the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Fashion Show in Fall 2018.

“We are delighted that MSC Seaside was chosen as the ideal stage for capturing the images for the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Annual,” said Roberto Fusaro, President of MSC Cruises USA. “Whether strolling along the waterfront boardwalk, having fun in the multi-story aqua park, or relaxing in the MSC Aurea Spa, it was a true honour to host the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders and provide them with the opportunity to experience and showcase our beautiful new ship.”

“We’re excited about our relationship with MSC Cruises and the spectacular Caribbean destinations the MSC Seaside opens up for our fans,” Miami Dolphins Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer Todd Kline said. “The recent travels including our fans, alumni and cheerleaders are just the beginning of what we feel will be a thriving partnership with MSC Cruise and their world-class ships to benefit our truly diverse fan base.”

Beyond wrapping their annual photo shoot on board, the Cheerleaders also interacted with guests during a variety of activities throughout the cruise. The sailing kicked off with a warm Miami Dolphins welcome with the cheerleaders and mascot “TD” taking over the terminal to cheer guests into their vacation. Onboard, cruisers and cheerleaders mingled with activities like the sail away party, multiple youth cheer clinics, photo opportunities and special performances to entertain guests, MSC said, in a statement.

The Cheerleaders’ annual photoshoot onboard MSC Seaside came on the heels of the Miami Dolphins’ first-ever Fan Cruise onboard MSC Seaside in March. The cruise welcomed football legends like Kim Bokamper, Terry Kirby, Sam Madison, Nat Moore, Joe Rose and Patrick Surtain, for a week of themed activities. For Dol-fans still eager to get up close and personal with these Dolphins alumni, the team will host its second cruise in 2019.

MSC Cruises evolves to match competitors’ policies


MSC Seaside

MSC Cruises, as reported previously, will implement several new sales policies that make its terms less generous and more closely aligned with those offered by its competitors in North America.

Among the changes are its first policy restricting the practice of commission rebating, a rule in place for more than a decade at brands such as Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line.

“We want travel agents to advertise us at the going rate,” said Ken Muskat, the executive vice president of sales, public relations and guest services at MSC Cruises USA. “We want it to be fair across the board.”

The other policy changes include raising deposit minimums, making it harder to cancel cruises without a penalty, and setting a two-month window for passengers to move a direct booking to their agent’s account.

Taken together, Muskat said, the changes signal that MSC is evolving.

“MSC is starting to become very well-established in the market. We’ve got more demand. We’ve got more travel agents selling us,” he said.

The changes are set to go into effect on May 1.

Under the new policies, passengers will have 60 days from initiating a booking to switch it to their agent, provided the booking is not yet past the final payment date. While some agents would prefer that transfers be permitted all the way up until the final payment, Muskat said the new policy is competitive.

“Giving them 60 days to transfer that booking is more than enough time,” Muskat said. “It’s one of those things that, again, makes us more in line with what the other brands do.”

Other companies are also changing penalties for canceling a deposited cruise.

Under MSC’s new plan, previously adopted by Norwegian and Royal, passengers on cruises shorter than 15 days can lose their deposit if they cancel up to 90 days before sailing. It had previously been up to 60 days.

Muskat said MSC is trying to open sales 18 months to two years in advance, and with that comes the tougher terms.

MSC will also raise deposits from $100 to $200 per person on shorter cruises and to $300 on cruises longer than 15 days. Other lines are in the $250 range on deposits, so MSC retains an advantage, Muskat said, but “the higher deposits will make people a little more serious.”

The anti-rebating policy provides that sales can’t be made “at a price below [MSC’s] published or contracted pricing programs.”

Agents can use value-added gifts as incentives, but not cash equivalents, such as gift cards. Group bookings are not subject to the new terms.

Muskat said rebating hasn’t been a huge problem at MSC, but the policy should benefit home-based agents who can’t compete with larger players who can rebate in a big way.

Staying on track and ahead of the curve

By Carrie Finley-Bajak
When it comes to social media strategy, it’s not OK to turn on cruise control: If a reset is in order, take one. Granting yourself a do-over can actually refresh stale campaigns and force you to break bad habits. Here are some ways to keep your social media marketing on track for success.
Stay focused on your goals

It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz when it comes to social media. While I enjoy learning about new trends in digital marketing, I have to remind myself to stay focused on growing my business.

Using Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and reports from social media analytics companies like Simply Measured helps me leverage data to identify opportunities and to optimize activities.

My overall goal is to use social media to get visitors to my website. Almost all of my social media updates and campaigns fit my keyword strategy, and if I am doing my job right, then promoting my brand yields a measurable increase in fans and followers and a rise in website traffic.

Besides building brand awareness and increasing a fan base, social media can be used as a tool for prospecting, lead qualification and customer service.

To get leads on social media, it takes time and a commitment to consistency. A steady stream of product announcements does not perform well on social networks. Instead, focus on showcasing expertise and experience. Use different types of content formats to capture attention.

Using supplier resources can be a time- saver and a way to get new ideas for what to post on social media.

Ken Muskat, executive vice president of sales, public relations and guest services at MSC Cruises USA and chairman of CLIA’s Trade Relations Committee, reports that MSC Cruises continues to provide the most updated promotional tools on its agent website.

Within the marketing tools section is a social media tab offering ready-made tweets and Facebook updates based on the cruise line’s latest news and promotions.

Grow with social media marketing

Social media messaging should include a robust mix of unique calls to action that drive visitors to click on links to your website, where visitors can subscribe to your mailing list or find a number to call for more information.

Make sure you have a system to monitor and track leads from social media.

Even social media-savvy agents with an established presence on social media need to keep abreast of current trends to remain relevant.

One of the key findings in the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report published by Social Media Examiner was that marketers still value Facebook and even though a large number of respondents use Facebook, 68% want to learn more about it and 62% plan to increase Facebook activities.

If you are one of the estimated 40 million small businesses using Facebook to promote your brand and to connect with customers, fighting for attention is a constant challenge.

A lot of people are looking for creative ways to generate leads without paying for Facebook ads.

In an article posted on Forbes.com, social marketing consultant and writer Jayson DeMers wrote “50 Free Ways to Increase Your Facebook Page Likes.”

Some of the highlights from Jason’s article include the following tips:

  • Use images as a regular part of your Facebook content strategy.
  • Engage with other pages in your niche through leaving “thoughtful comments in response to other people’s posts.”
  • When leaving Facebook comments, post as your page rather than from your personal profile.

If your Facebook page has been on cruise control, go back and refresh the about section, and add relevant events and detailed descriptions to photos.

In Travel Weekly’s Focus on Social Media article, there was a great example of an agent’s Facebook page that can inspire you to revamp lackluster Facebook pages.

Jill LaBarre’s page, Jill’s Great Escapes, has incorporated all the elements that will increase the chance of getting leads. I am impressed by the “book now” call-to-action button that drives leads to her website as well as the use of custom tabs to get leads to “register to win a trip.” Jill also has leveraged the events tab to highlight her upcoming trips — three excellent examples of how to leverage Facebook.

Another Facebook feature that you might not know about is the ability to auto-schedule updates. This time-saver could be enormous help to agents who can set aside a few hours a week to schedule Facebook updates. Find out more at the Facebook Help Center.

Twitter is another social media platform that generates a lot of buzz. For travel sellers, Twitter is a good place to engage with suppliers, network with other agents and stay current on industry news.

There are ways to get leads on Twitter, but I would recommend getting comfortable with the platform before investing in Twitter ads.

I get that Twitter is not for everyone, but according to the Social Media Examiner survey, marketers indicated it as an area where survey responders planned to increase their use.

At a minimum, Twitter accounts should be established and a header image and description with a link to an agent’s website should be set up.

There are many ways to use Twitter. For example, Travel Weekly hosts a live Twitter chat every month about trending topics in travel. We use the #TWchats hashtag to promote and engage with industry insiders, including agents, suppliers and influencers.

I would suggest getting started and using the list feature to help create customized streams specific to your niche. For example, create a list of your preferred suppliers to quickly see their posts.

The advanced search feature enables users to create custom searches based on keywords and variables like location.

Best in show

These are my favorite tweets from June’s #TWchats about social media best practices within the travel industry:

Larry Pimentel admits to using social media to find “a unique luxe wellness lodge in #NewZealand called @SplitApple.” The CEO of Azamara Club Cruises added in his tweet, “Travelers loved the experience. So did I.”

Catherine Heeg: “I really like Pinterest as you can organize your photos and message boards and pins to clients.”

Seiche Wave: “A great social media campaign stimulates dialogue, attracts new followers and increases new visitors to all associated sites.”

Video

No conversation about social media marketing is complete without mention of video.

Whether an agent uses a smartphone, digital camera or expensive video recorders, we know that videos capture the attention of people on social media.

  • Anyone can set up a YouTube channel, and a lot of suppliers will give you permission to upload their content onto your agency’s branded channel.
  • Instagram has a video-sharing feature as well as Vine, which can be easily shared on Twitter.
  • Facebook allows users to directly upload video. Pinterest allows users to “pin” videos, and your website should have a blog where you can easily embed videos to leverage content.