A NAUTICAL “BIG BROTHER”
Recently P&O Cruises twitted something odd: “We love #HolidayFirsts so this week we’re sending a couple on their first ever cruise on #Britannia, join us as we follow their journey. Later, one of my friends, David Monk (shipmonk.co.uk) wrote about this experiment.
Of course, I was anxious to find more… And what I found is quite creepy and ridiculous at the same time.
P&O have decided to create a “nautical Big Brother”: chosen by a panel of judges, a couple will cruise with P&O and everything they do on board and on shore will be chosen for them by social media users. Whether it is visiting the ship’s 13 bars, attending a show, going to a restaurant or in a shore excursion – every public activity they do will be shown live on P&O Cruises’ social media channels.
Freddy Berry, 57, and 52-year-old Karen Pacaud, from York, were the chosen human guinea pigs to enjoy a two-week Caribbean voyage on P&O Cruises flagship Britannia. They fly out soon to join the ship in Barbados. But, as I mentioned, the couple, who have never cruised before, will be told what to do and where to go by thousands of the cruise line’s followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Remembering the last year experience on P&O VENTURA (https://leonardmiron.com/2016/01/11/new-year-on-a-feryy-with-a-hint-of-floating-benidorm/ ) and beyond the marketing and PR clouds three questions agitated my afternoon sleep:
- Which cruise market P&O is targeting now? “Big Brother” moved quick from big players to “second hand” TV channels and the rating was following the trend, so …
- How accurate the market research reports which generated this “brilliant” idea are? P&O describe Britannia as “…Designed for the modern British holidaymaker, combining the excitement of cruising with the sophistication of a five-star hotel…” No way that the widely criticised “Big Brother” model can be compared to modern British holidaymakers or a five-star hotel.
- How desperate or innocent you must be to say YES? Apart from second hand stars in need of free publicity, nobody accepts nowadays this kind of public exposure. The only reality-ish TV show still with standards and celebrities is “Strictly…” but even the BBC struggles sometimes to find real celebrities. Why a normal decent British couple will accept this public exposure is hard for me to understand; even the price of a free cruise is too high for this experiment.
But, at the end of the day, P&O has designed for sure its own medium and long term strategies. When Cunard brings symphonic orchestra themed cruises, Silversea catches big stage names and Regent associate themselves with Smithsonian, P&O goes with “Big Brother”, “Ant and Dec” and “the enomatic wine system” (i.e. wine dispensed on tap).
The cruise market is huge, with space for all tastes and interests, including it seems reality TV show lovers. How this relates to sophisticated five-star floating hotels is however debatable.