Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) - Brand plan for a new concept: The Aqua Theatre Café

The process of developing a new brand

Seminar Paper, 2010

30 Pages, Grade: 70%














For the first time Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) takes its roots off shore with the aim to impress its public once more with a revolutionary new concept: The Aqua Theatre Café’, a multi-centre new site providing customers with innovative entertainment and dining experiences. Created from scratch by the Royal Caribbean R&D Department, the new theatre will benefit from the most innovative technology and an original architectural design, likely to become a new London iconic venue. Located in a premium position of the famous area of West End, offering a fantastic view of the city, The Aqua Theatre will provide an additional value to the so-called English “Theatre Land”, by offering something original and never seen before by the thousand of people that every day visit this fantastic city. It will also enhance the RCCL brand portfolio with a new energetic and provocative brand, which will boost RCCL brand awareness both domestically and globally. Additionally the brand will benefit from the great media coverage and public interest given the 2012 Olympics Games to take place in London.

Fig.1 - The Aqua Theatre Café’ logo sample

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1.1. What is offering?

The Aqua Theatre Café’ will bring in the first Aqua show ever to the West End scenario including types of shows: The Dolphins Show will be a day time show offering quality family bonding experience to parents and children, while The Royal Aqua Show will be an evening show where acrobats, synchronized swimmers, divers and characters performing, in, on and above the water will offer magic moments to a more adult audience, looking for a special night out.

The venue will also have two types of restaurants. One open at lunchtime: The Chop Grilled Restaurant will offer a casual dining experience in a “cruise style” buffet, offering a menu with a huge variety of grilled food, from fish to vegetable and meat. Guest will only need to pay a fix for the buffet and special promotion throughout the week will guarantee accessible price to, although always keeping high quality standards.

The second restaurant offers a premium dinner experience: The Finest experience has a special room surrounded by a glass wall overlooking the theatre which will able guests to watch the Royal Aqua Show while savouring fantastic food from the high quality exotic menu in offer. This is aimed to be a five-senses journey to anyone booking a table in this restaurant; also a place for romantic couples looking for a special and intimate place where to celebrate their anniversary or a particular event.

RCCL is proposing a new brand aiming to provoke the extraordinary customers effect of “I have been there”. This is a new brand from the RCCL brand portfolio, entering new markets. The existing bastion brand Royal Caribbean International (RCI) will endorse the new brand drawing on its brand association: Innovativeness (Kelly, 2005).

By being in The Aqua Theatre Café’ customers will have a taste of what it means to be part of the Royal Caribbean family. The objectives are to recreate the same benefits of a cruise experience, such as the contact with nature, great hospitality service and t he outstanding level of entertainment, inside the venue. The Aqua Theatre Café aims increasing demand for cruising experiences, by stimulating first time cruisers and increasing brand loyalty among current customers.

1.2. The challenge

Country of Origin effect (CO) on the cruise market is considered to be a big challenge for Global Brands when trying to engage with different cultures and backgrounds (Mintel, 2010). According to the Ahmed’s findings in his article Country of Origin and brand effect on consumer evaluation of cruise lines (2001), when consumer are unfamiliar with the product, country image will serve as “halo effect”, by which consumers deduce product attributes. On the other hand CO effect diminishes in importance when consumers become more familiar with the brand (Ahmed, 2001).

These findings have taken the report to a deeper investigation in order to find evidences that would support this theory. As a matter of fact, within the European cruise industry global brands RCCL and CC (Carnival Corporation) have only reached a leader position through the acquisition of local cruise brands. The CC have gained the UK market position by purchasing both English brand Cunard and P&O, leaving the RCCL with a small segment of the UK market and CO effect challenge and major competitor as main obstacles.

As suggested by the latest data on, RCCL main product market scope is to enter the European market and the UK as already commented earlier in this report, is the biggest after North America, therefore an efficient strategy is needed in order to gain shares.

To overcome the CO effect and position the brand as a new main competitor within the UK market the report has suggested the RCCL to create a new brand to be born within the UK market. By being endorsed to one of the RCCL family of brands, customer are expected to initiate the familiarization process with the brands that will eventually lead to a reduction of the CO effect and a new demand for cruising with Royal Caribbean.

However consumer research have found the main problem for the cruise companies to enter the European market being customer perception towards the actual cruise experience to be something for old people, boring and with a sense of trap (Mintel, 2008). In England only 5% of people choose to cruise among other form of vacation, however those who get to cruise at least once are more likely to cruise again (Mintel, 2009). Firstly data suggest an untapped potential of at least 95% of vacationers that could eventually be convinced opting for a different holiday treatment, and secondly that the public need to be educated in a way that people can become aware of the benefits of cruising.

Royal Caribbean International (RCCL’s bastion brand) has known these challenges since the really beginning of its business. It added special features on board of their ships, used high-technology communication strategies and employed very high advertising budget in order to connect with a younger audience. RCI has actually reinvented the way people cruise around the world, according to Kelly in his book The breakaway brands (2005), however according to the latest European data consumers have responded to these changes very slowly especially on the last five years, and whilst loyalty have increased among the existing customers, first time cruisers have increased moderately, which is not in line with the RCCL business objectives (Mintel, 2009).

On this regard the report has investigated some of the advertising campaigns (see appendix Image N1, N2) and found that the most of the ads were promoting the destination rather then the cruise experience on its whole: the entertainment on board, the contact with nature and the fantastic customer service had a restricted relevance, which can eventually be one of the reason why people do not get the real sense of what it means to travel with Royal Caribbean. For all these reasons the report recommend rethink the old traditional marketing activities that so far have not sufficiently helped the company to reach its objectives and to create a new engagement with the audience on a more emotional level so that old perceptions can be changed and demand for cruises increased.

1.3. The solution

The report suggests a new product service within the leisure market in order to meet the customers before the actual cruise experience, by offering a new brand that provide the essence of the cruise experience on land. This will be The Aqua Theatre Café’ by Royal Caribbean.

Alistair Williams in his article Tourism and hospitality marketing: fantasy, feeling and fun (2006) argued that the travel and tourism sector needs a more contemporary orientation. The marketing of tourism and hospitality products has become very complex and the majority of the marketing efforts are focusing not on the consumers, but on the destination or outlet, with strategies related to the product offered, commonly using conventional images as a way to attract consumer preferences (Williams, 2006).

In spite of this, contemporary consumers have become very much aware of the power of images and they are less likely to be deceived by traditional messages when bombarded by thousands of adverts every day. Moreover people are becoming more aware of what consumption means to them, they use it to make statements about themselves, to build up their identity and to create a sense of belonging (Williams, 2006).

The report has taken into account this shift in consumer’s behaviour and thought about consumption as an opportunity for the new brand to reach new cruisers. If considering that the most of the relationship within people are a consequence of consumption, for instance when two people go to a pub for a chat or go to dine in a restaurant for a date, then “consumption” of a certain type of experience can help the brand to create a relationship with new customers.

The Aqua Theatre Café’ product service will aim to create this momentum for the firm to engage with an audience of new potential cruisers. Additionally it will capitalize on offer from restaurants and shows businesses. Altogether it will also create new synergies within the RCCL lines of brands and also represent something unique that will help to set the brand a part from its competitors and create a stronger USP.


2.1. From mass media to experiential marketing

According to the customer–based brand equity model suggested by Keller (2008), the power of a brand lies in what reside in the minds of customers. So the challenge is usually to create marketing activities that ensure consumers to effectively link the brand with the feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and images to the right product or service.

The concept suggested by this report can be categorized as an experiential marketing strategy, which according to Williams (2006) is an approach to marketing that goes further then traditional rational features-and-benefits view of consumers, but taking a more post-modern focus, looking at consumers more as emotional beings with a concern for reaching pleasurable experience.

Rather then seeing the offer through traditional marketing and advertising campaign, the consumers change their position from a passive reader or viewer to experience the “feeling” of the offer (Williams, 2006).

The aim of The Aqua Theatre Café’ is to take the essence of the cruise experience and amplify it into a set of tangible and physical interactive experience which will add force to the offer.

As Mark Garbanzos, Barceló’ Resort General Manager states: “hospitality marketing is experiential, how you explain the sensory excitement of being here? You can’t get that ambience from an advert” (Forbes, 2010).

In order to market the offer in an experiential fashion the report has considered Pine and Gilmore (1998) framework to explain the way people perceive experiences and so justifying the choice of such approach. They can be divided into two different constructs: customer Participation (from active to passive) and customer Connection (absorption to Immersion).

As can be seen from the graph on the following page, Pine and Gilmore sorted “experience” in four different realms: the education, entertainment, escapist and aesthetic. For each of the four quarters, the report has positioned each of the product services offered by the new brand.

Fig.2 - The Tourism and Hospitality Four-dimension Experience.

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The Royal Aqua Show creates an Entertainment Realm, where customer senses are stimulated by music, perfumes and the performance will engage with customer emotions. On the other hand The Dolphins Show has been positioned in between the Entertainment and the Educational Realm; children can learn from the show what animals can do and at the same time be entertained by the show. The Chopped Grilled restaurant is on the Escapist Realm, because is where customers take active participation by consuming the buffet. The Finest Experience is the product that gets closer to the Sweet Spot, by incorporating almost all the elements of each Realm; the reason is because the customers will experience a five senses journey, by contemporary benefit from the four different realms. “The richness of an experience is a function of the degree to which all four realms are incorporated” (Williams, 2006).

The strategy is to create a cohesive theme of the cruise experience on The Aqua Theatre Café’, creating a consistent set of images and meanings for the experience, a simulation or a representation of what it means to cruise with Royal Caribbean. For instance the concept is similar to what Walt Disney did with Disneyland, building the idea on the condition of Hypereality, referring to the argument that reality is warped and become image, illusion and simulation (Keller, 2008).

“When the real is not longer a given but is reproduced by a simulated environment, it does not become unreal, but realer then real… so in postmodernism simulation comes to constitute the reality itself” Baudrilliard, 1993 (Williams, 2006).

The Aqua Theatre Café’ will be ideally created as a simulation of the cruise reality, but becoming a reality itself with its own identity and a position in the market. By being located in one of the major city in the world, with possible extensions in other cities, the new brand will enhance the brand awareness and distinguish the Royal Caribbean brand image on a global scale, plus will capitalize on the actual brand and increase revenue and create new opportunities.

2.2. The brand Identity

In order to explain the “new brand” identity, the report has taken in consideration the Customer-based brand equity pyramid module as a guide to define the elements of The Aqua Theatre Café’ brand. Linking the brand elements with certain product category, associated purchase and consumption or usage situations, involves giving the product service an identity (Keller, 2008).

Fig.3 - The Customer-based brand equity pyramid

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Keller, K. (2008) Strategic Brand Management

The salience of the brand is to be a unique innovative entertainment concept located in Central London providing outstanding dining experience and memorable only one of its kind shows. The architectural innovativeness of the venue will create a touristic attraction for everyone coming to London and a centre where people come to explore and feel that they are in a special place. The purpose is to create a main destination for short-breaks tourists visiting the city and people seeking quality time to share with friends, family and partners.

People will consider going to The Aqua Theatre Café’ for a particular occasion like celebrating a birthday or an anniversary. As the only site in Central London providing an Aqua Theatre, then a feature like this will provide the brand with a main point of differentiation from the aggressive competition of the West End theatres shows, creating a category on its own. Although, the new brand is also entering the hospitality market, by offering memorable dining experience, with point of differentiations like location, sights, the possibility to watch a show while having dinner, and a “cruise” style customer service.


Excerpt out of 30 pages


Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) - Brand plan for a new concept: The Aqua Theatre Café
The process of developing a new brand
University of Westminster  (Westminster Business School )
Branding Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
2644 KB
Branding, Cruise market, Royal Caribbean International, Royal Caribbean, Branding process, Marketing the cruise industry, Brand development, Creative ideas, Brand Plan
Quote paper
BA Global Marketing Matteo Fabbi (Author), 2010, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) - Brand plan for a new concept: The Aqua Theatre Café, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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