Cruise Ships Provide Tremendous View of Southeast Alaska, But At What Cost?

Johns Hopkins Glacier and Fairweather MountainsBack from a week or so of vacation and I’m feeling a little dirty, if not guilty, about what I’ve just experienced. Now, before I get into cruise ship bashing, let me first say that this trip allowed for several positive experiences that might not have been possible (or at least easy) given the circumstances.

For my wife’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, it was decided that a cruise would be the easiest and most economical way for 30 people to all get together, celebrate, have fun, and not become an undue burden on any one family. So, after nearly two years of planning, we set sail for Southeast Alaska from Vancouver, BC. We could have gone on any number of cruises, but for a diverse family who appreciates the mountains and didn’t want to be in the tropics in mid-July, this was the best option.

It was a fantastic way to see a part of the world that none of us had seen before, and it allowed everyone to take things at their own pace. The kids—there are 14 of them, ranging from 3 to 20 years old—had an incredible time. And while you can fly into Ketchikan and Juneau, and drive to Skagway, they’re all difficult to get to. In addition, cruising allows you to see some of the world’s largest glaciers—in Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord—which you cannot get to without a boat or airplane. These glaciers and the surrounding landscape really are incredible, and I’m grateful to have seen them close up in this way.

All that said, the act of cruising on a large ship is about as far from an ecological vacation as I can imagine. (more…)

Reflecting On Local, Small Town Marketing Issues…Right Before Vacation

It’s only Wednesday and already it’s been a very busy week. Why is it that you’re busiest just before heading out on vacation? In an effort to not let MarketGreener go fallow over vacation, I’ll be taking the laptop with me and will attempt to post some vacation-specific topics. I’m anticipating many opportunities to blast the cruise ship industry in particular and mass tourism in general.

On Thursday we escape the confines of Jackson Hole and the United States to visit our northern cousin Canada. Just in time for the Independence Day holiday, no less. On Saturday we—my small, nuclear family—embark on a coastline cruise to Alaska with my wife’s entire “immediate” family to celebrate her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Now, in my family, “immediate” refers to nine of us at most (including my wife, my brother’s wife, and our children), but in her family, “immediate” includes 30 of us. Insert than number into the cruise ship atmosphere and it could get a little crazy. Should be interesting.

In the mean time, I’ve been finishing up a couple of projects that I hope to be able to write a little about in the near future. In particular, while my research focus has been what’s happening with marketing in the online world on a national scale, my business focus has turned out to be local in nature. It is something I knew would happen once my business got up and running, but there is a much clearer line drawn between how marketing is written about—and apparently practiced—on a national scale and the practices embraced on a local level. There is definitely room to exposit on this rather large gap.

As a side note, my clients are shaping up so far to be those in the local non-profit and education areas. Perhaps not always the most lucrative fields locally, but these organizations seem to be fairly well funded for programming but don’t always have the staff or experience to handle marketing. As I begin to write more about my experiences, I’ll be looking for other examples of how marketers are dealing with these local, real-world issues. If you have some of your own to share, please pass them along.