Thames Rivercruise is a well-established firm that has been operating a fleet of passenger boats on the mid-Thames for decades. Based in Reading and covering prosperous and picture postcard riverside towns and villages, it is a multi-faceted business, offering public river trips, private and corporate charter, as well as weddings.
As with many businesses that have been running for a number of years, it is very easy to get set in your ways and stop evolving. Thames Rivercruise recognised that they needed to keep up with the times but were unsure of the best approach.
When we first met Thames Rivercruise, like many clients, they had taken their first forays into social media and carried out several updates of their website. However, they were struggling to transition to digital marketing from old-fashioned and expensive print advertising, or indeed, to fully embrace online ticketing.
The Thames has a number of passenger boat companies and Thames Rivercruise needed to distinguish themselves, to create a clear identity, and establish some consistency across key brand and marketing messages.
The website needed to have more information about the services on offer, be easily updated and integrate with an online ticketing system.
Thames Rivercruise is a long-established business, and their branding, positioning and brand message have developed more through evolution than innovation. So one of our first jobs was to identify their target audience and competitors, refocus their branding and brand message, without losing their identity.
Recognising that the ‘commodity’ was not a product or service, so much as a destination and experience, we gave emphasis to this in all literature and marketing messages. We also worked with the client to enhance the customer experience and interaction onboard and during river trips.
We developed a new website that reflected the brand and key marketing messages, built with mobile-first and SEO friendly design. From the outset, online ticketing was vital, so we developed an integration with Ticketinghub, as the pricing structure works favourably with their business model whilst the features include a physical POS to sell tickets onboard and a passenger manifest.
We called a halt to unmeasurable and expensive ad spend with newspapers, magazines and other print titles. Instead, we structured a targeted and cost-effective digital marketing strategy to reach key potential clients.
Working with the client, we separated the business into different sectors (trips/cruises, private charter and corporate charter) providing each with an individual, proposed growth plan and strategy.
Originally, Thames Rivercruise had four cruises for the public in one reach of the river. They now have upwards of 18, spanning numerous reaches along the River Thames, each offering unique experiences.
By changing-up the style of cruises and improving the customer experience, the average ticket price has risen from £6 to £20. Online bookings continue to grow exponentially, whilst marketing spend, even taking into account our agency fees, is down. Year-on-year ticketing revenue continues to rise, with month-on-month growth, in some cases, in excess of 800%.
The initial goals having been reached, our current focus is to build upon this success by increasing the value from each customer and targeting private charter and weddings.
With growth that exceeded even our own expectations, and a greater breadth of experiences and services on offer, we are planning a new website using our custom CMS, based upon Webflow and a brand revision to reflect the changing face of Reading and the client base.
Increase online ticket sales & decrease administration
Engage the local community
Promote the river as a destination, and boat trips as an experience
Increase return on advertising spend (ROAS) whilst decreasing overall spend.
Introduce SMART advertising goals (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic & timely)
Add perceived value to services
Stop cut-price tickets through mass market sellers such as Groupon, to re-establish the value of the boats and the river
Incentivise online reviews
Build a central customer database for marketing communications
Refresh the brand
Create consistent branding & marketing messages
Develop an SEO-friendly, mobile-first website
Integrate online and offline ticketing
Design & print marketing collateral, brochures & signage
Deliver sustainable growth