How Low Should You Go? Can Deep Discounts Sink Your Ship?

The cruise line industry seems to be keeping the US Postal Service afloat these days based on the sheer volume of direct mailers that have shown up at my home and office.

Frankly, the offers are amazing.

It seems a person can cruise the rivers of Europe, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or pick your own body of water, for about the cost of a few nice dinners at an upscale restaurant (with wine).  OK, very upscale.

It is no secret that the disasters the cruise industry has faced in the last few years – outbreaks of mass illness, a wreck of historic proportions and, the stranding of thousands at sea – have brought the industry to this point.  For me, the question is whether these deep discounts become yet another disaster to overcome.

I’m reminded of a Firesign Theater skit where the used car salesman is touting “eleven dollars down, eleven dollars a week and if you don’t have eleven dollars, we’ll LOAN you the eleven dollars.”  The hidden message – run, don’t walk away from this clunker.

Besides signaling a questionable product or experience, at what point do the deep discount prices become the standard prices? Some of the offers are coming from companies that have solid reputations.

Is there a better way than deep discounts to maintain a steady stream of customers while maintaining a hard-earned brand position?

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

(On the other hand, perhaps we are just now seeing the real cost of cruising)

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