Sunday, March 29, 2009

What Message Does This Message Board Behavior Send?

Do you really have to know your fellow passengers before embarking on your cruise? Will it make or break your vacation? It could go either way and is something to think about.

It never ceases to amaze me that people will set up a "roll call" on an active cruise travel message board and invite fellow passengers to join in... and then turn on newcomers. While I read some message boards to see what's on passengers' minds, I don't participate. For good reason. Some get downright ugly.

A post on a lesser trafficked message board caught my eye the other day. An active member of that smaller cruise travel community was distressed that, "For the first time in 20 years plus we find ourselves on a small 'Z' (name changed) cruise with the nastiest and most self important cruisers we have ever met." She went on to wonder how to avoid what could be unpleasant scenes on board once they embarked. How did she know before even sailing that this particular group of people might not be congenial? She had joined a Cruise Critic "roll call" for her sailing date. Out of curiosity, I looked it over. Indeed, she had posted there and her comments seemed to convey her excitement about the cruise—her first on that particular cruise line—as well as the anticipation she felt about meeting fellow passengers. Comments were aimed back at her from others on the roll call that did indeed sound demeaning. The culprits are a small number of 'Z' cruise line regulars who brag about their top-level past passenger status.

In essence, the past passengers appear to have opened the roll call topic with an agenda: to show off. I didn't get a warm and fuzzy let's meet for cocktails and get to know each other vibe. Quite the opposite. The top status past passenger members seem to pick and choose who was going to be good enough to hang out with them.

What a shame that some adults stoop to such juvenile behavior. The lady who was so upset by their snobbishness was actually considering cancelling her dream cruise with no hope of recovering her money. The next time she books a cruise, she will be returning to a different cruise line—one that she has sailed with before. She vows to not return to 'Z' cruise line because of her unpleasant experience with their top level past passengers.

The lesson here is to read an entire roll call topic and then follow it for a couple weeks before making the decision to reveal yourself. Also, never divulge your real name or your cabin number on message boards and be wary—very wary—of people who invite you to "meet" them online and then onboard. They might not be who you have been led to believe they are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is RCCL Manipulating (owned by TripAdvisor)?

From Jaunted (Conde Nast):

Royal Caribbean Cruises Has Web 2.0 Viral Infection

No surprise here: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has a viral infection. For once, however, it's not the Norovirus but that new-fangled byproduct of Web 2.0, the viral marketing infiltration. According to Consumerist, a group of fifty "Royal Champions" was outed by their own creator, the Customer Insight Group, as being a successful project whereby frequent positive cruise commenting on sites such as CruiseCritic was rewarded with free cruises and other perks.
So what's the big deal? Well, it seems that the "Royal Champions" weren't always up front about their status as compensated reviewers, effectively misleading readers of CruiseCritic forums with their positive comments. Add to this the fact that CruiseCritic admins assisted Royal Caribbean in choosing the fifty, with one of the stipulations being quantity of posts, "with many having over 10,000 message board posts on various Royal Caribbean topics." From here, the hole just gets deeper.
Now that many RC fans feel slighted at not having made the ranks and most everyone else is disgusted at the covert trade of cruising for happy juicing, the trustworthiness of such forums is under fire.
Due to CruiseCritic's ownership by TripAdvisor, which is in turn under the Expedia blanket of travel sites, a viral marketing stunt gone awry could possibly continue to negatively ripple. Does news like this affect your ability to trust good reviews on travel sites, or do you already consider yourself an excellent shill-spotter enough to weed out the solicited from the unsolicited? While this whole ordeal is mired in serious muckety-muck, let's hope it serves as a lesson for future viral marketers and as an argument for transparency.