07 Case Study

Virgin Voyages + PortMiami: Travel Marketing Case Study

Media Consulting to Negotiate Maximum Visibility and Value

Travel Marketing Case Study, In Context:

Public-private partnerships, particularly those responsible for tourism and travel marketing, have a tough job trying to please everyone. Private firms must pursue profit, which is hard enough. Public entities must prove value for the whole community. While a brand launch is profit-seeking, any economic development marketing plan must deliver value for both sides of the table.

This travel marketing case study does exactly this. We’ll show how media consulting can deliver outsized value for a new cruise line brand launch, as well as the stakeholders of PortMiami in a true public-private partnership.

In the end, travel marketing has many stakeholders. Cities, public-private partnerships, business improvement districts, media firms, destination marketing organizations, airlines, cruise lines, transport, cargo companies and property owners and more... We know the value of visibility, and provide neutral, empirical input on these high-stakes deals. It’s why our paid media consulting practice was born.

Public Private Partnership: The Players

Cruise Consolidation: Market Context

The private sector cruise landscape is strange. Between Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian, ~75% of the cruise market is controlled by global behemoth “holding companies.” [1,2] New brand launches in this space are rare.

Public Ports (and their Authority)

90% of all traded goods globally are transported via ocean shipping. And PortMiami is the #1 cruise passenger port in the world, delivering $43B USD in global economic value[3]. It sits on property controlled by the county of Miami-Dade, smack at the centre of Biscayne Bay, visible to all downtown Miami and Bayside Marketplace, which receives over 25MM visitors yearly.

What’s more: PortMiami runs parallel to the MacArthur Causeway, a dazzling half mile-long bridge carrying 30 million cars a year [4]. The whole scene feels like the 90’s video game Cruis’n USA or the opening credits of Miami Vice (at :52 secs!). 

As a niche brand vying for marketshare, Virgin Voyages needed to make a splash.

The Travel Marketing Challenge + Opportunity

Maximizing Visibility for an Enterprising Brand:

For Virgin Voyages, and any cruiseline, each ship is a huge operational asset. Each Virgin Voyages ship would hold ~3,000 passengers, stretching 900′ (277 meters) on each side.

Our Budget BlueprintSM and media consulting practice works to unlock arbitrage opportunities to maximize media value for brands. And it was clear: Virgin Voyages’ ships were, in themselves, a massive media opportunity. Yet smaller cruiselines (like Virgin Voyages) tended to be assigned berthing space in the less-visible back (south) side of PortMiami.

Maximizing Revenue for an Economic Development Driver:

As Criterion Global noted: Some of Miami’s most valuable OOH inventory is nearby PortMiami and the Causeway. Virgin Voyages’ operational assets (its ships, terminal space, signage) had quantifiable media value. PortMiami – which manages 2,489 vessel arrivals and 7.42MM tons of cargo, with its own economic development marketing plan – didn’t generally monetize cruise berthing space on the basis of its media valueCriterion Global sought strategies to maximize ship visibility. Public private partnership and leasing negotiations for Virgin Voyage’s terminal space with PortMiami were in their early phases.

So Criterion Global armed Virgin Voyages with data to assess: What, exactly, is the billboard value of a cruise ship in terminal?

Public Private Partnership: The Solution

Insights, now in plain sight 

Our lips are sealed on much of the confidential details of our consulting work for the purposes of a typical marketing case study. However we can share what has since become public information. What’s more, much of the value of our travel marketing advisory for this historic deal can be seen in plain sight: 

Terminal “V”

Armed with our data, Virgin Voyages negotiated a $150M USD deal to construct the 132,000 “Terminal V” at the western tip PortMiami. Terminal V positions Virgin at the #1 cruise terminal in the world, in plain view of Miami’s sights and skyline. 

And, like any prime OOH media placement, Terminal V will use uplighting to “light up the company logo at night” for 24/7 visibility to the 30M cars crossing Miami’s MacArthur Causeway and 25M+ tourists visiting downtown Miami each year [5]. 

Terminal V at PortMiami: Public Private Partnership Marketing Case Study
Travel marketing for PortMiami and the launch of Virgin Voyages

Not bad for an insurgent, upstart cruiseline making an entrance in a heavily consolidated industry.  Our media advisory work even influenced ship design. The stern (back) of Virgin Voyage ships are…an actual billboard visible up to 2 nautical miles away.

Maximizing Launch Visibility: Virgin Voyages Ship Design

Further Reading

Explore our work in economic development, as well as a wide array of work specific to travel brands. As an advertising and media advisory focused on global trade, we work to find equilibrium between investment and value for organizations of all stripes.

Other Travel Clientele

For a more tactical marketing case study, learn more how we orchestrated the global expansion for Belmond, a London-based luxury portfolio of 45+ luxury hotels and train experiences, prior to its acquisition by LVMH.

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