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Kacy Cole, of Holland America Line, on marketing innovations for high-value cruise guests

As you likely know, I have a keen interest in marketing innovation, so it was with great pleasure that I received word that Kacy Cole – Chief Marketing Officer at Holland America Line – was willing to sit down with me for an interview about marketing innovations at this venerable brand, which last year, celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Holland America has been on a bit of a roll these days. Revenues are at record highs, doubtlessly propelled by a post-COVID surge in demand for memorable cruise experiences. Awards are being won, including, in 2024, the “Best Alaska Cruise” award from USA Today and the “Best Service Award” from Cruise Critic. Just this month, Holland America announced a partnership with audiobook provider Audible to make available audiobook titles tailored to Holland America destinations. Other recent marketing innovations include naming noted chef Morimoto as Holland America’s fresh fish ambassador, and a partnership with Harry & David and 1-800-FLOWERS.

As Kacy notes, research plays a huge role in the process of rolling out new products and partnerships to cater to Holland America’s high-value customers. And here, generative AI is already playing a part in identifying new media targeting opportunities, as well as introducing efficiencies in the way that Holland America guides customers through the booking and digital checkout process.

We cover numerous other topics in our talk, including:

  • The importance of reaching the right person with the right message at the right time and the right environment to deliver the right outcome.
  • How, after analyzing the behavior of high-value, high-affinity guests, Holland America’s food and beverage team reprogrammed the supply chain to bring in more fresh fish.
  • How marketing at Holland America is very much a “team sport” where collaboration is key to innovation.
  • The thrillingly unique charm of glacier-themed cocktails.

Greg Licciardi
Greg Licciardi
Greg Licciardi is VP of Partnerships at Worth Media Group along with being a Professor of Marketing in the evening at Fordham and Seton Hall universities. He is currently working on a book entitled "Achieving the Holy Grail of Marketing."

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