The Fast Five: How To Turn Leadership Into Action During a Crisis

Marissa Guzzo

Marketing Analyst

After each episode of Simulmedia Live, we pick out the five minutes that you shouldn’t miss. If you couldn’t catch the show, we’ve got you covered.

While marketing is vital in driving customers, Gordon Ho joins us to explain how it is also fundamental in disaster response. When a passenger on Princess Cruise Lines was diagnosed with COVID-19, soon to be followed by 10 others, he immediately prioritized communication and spearheaded support for the people aboard, ultimately sending everyone home safely.

Gordon shares his reactions to the crisis from a marketing perspective and the advice he would give companies like Princess to re-engage clients. Plus, Tyler and Rachel Torres, a newlywed couple celebrating their honeymoon aboard the ship, surprise Gordon and share how they helped catalyze communication between passengers and upper management at Princess.

Here’s a link to their entire conversation that’s chock-full of insights to help you understand the events that transpired and how the marketing team kept passengers, their loved ones on shore, and the world informed through real-time crisis marketing.

Without further ado, The Fast Five.

1. Communication is key.

When Gordon first found out about the crisis, he immediately diversified the ways to reach and support the passengers. Despite the fragmented ways media was consumed aboard the ship (social media, cabin TV, ship announcements), Gordon’s team was able to keep the passengers informed and empowered to connect with each other.


2. Humanize your interactions when possible.

What differentiated Gordon’s response was how individualized it was. From sending valentines to newlywed couples, to hand writing notes for customers, passengers were grateful for the staff’s efforts that displayed compassion during the crisis.


3. Let the data decide if you should go dark.

Gordon explains why Princess reached out to customers to gauge interest in continuing to post updates and content about future travel once it is safe to sail again. There was overwhelming support for continued communications as their customers yearned for something to look forward to.


4. The power of your brand lies within your customers.

As exemplified by Tyler and Rachel, customers can have incredible impacts on communication and brand influence. They both expressed their satisfaction with Gordon’s response and a desire to sail with Princess again. This support goes a long way in solidifying the positive image of Princess Cruise Lines.


Rachel and Tyler have started a blog chronicling their experience aboard the Diamond Princess and what life is like after being quarantined at sea. Check it out here.

We couldn’t get to all of the live audience questions so Gordon took the time to answer this last question after the show.

Question from Jay: Does the cruise industry have a trade organization working on behalf of all cruise lines to work on consumer confidence? If not, wouldn’t that be an important next step for the industry?

Gordon’s answer: Yes, the industry has the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) who is working with member cruise lines.

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