P&O Cruises: Winning Back Lost Guests

What was the brief?

When the pandemic hit, P&O Cruises were forced to cancel many of their scheduled cruises. They offered guests either credit or a full refund. Our brief was to win back guests who had been fully refunded and encourage them to rebook a cruise while the world was still in flux.

What was the strategy?

Guests were missing travel desperately, but still had fears about safety and booking security. We wanted to take them on a journey of reassurance that allayed their fears and reignited their wanderlust at a speed that was right for them, not us. Then make it easy to book their dreams.

What was the campaign solution?

A four-part triggered email journey which used propensity modelling and personalisation to help guests dream with confidence. This progressive series knocked down barriers and built up individual reasons to book over time, as well as trust and desire, without rushing the guest. All underpinned by the reliability of P&O Cruises.

What were the results?

This journey led 4.2% of guests (against an average conversion of less than 1%) to rebook.

The campaign ROI was 30:1 and we saw outstanding campaign engagement with open rates of 40% (over double the industry standard).

Explore a live example below


Campaign in Detail


The challenge we had to meet was how to recapture an audience who had chosen to receive a full refund for the cruise they had booked because of the amount of uncertainty around Covid-19 and travel. To make it more challenging, we needed to do this against a media backdrop of holiday companies going bust and ongoing flux.

The programme was meticulously planned in two key phases:

Our guest research showed that the appetite for travel was there, but that people were still wrestling with concerns about the safety of travel with Covid very much still at large, and of the security of their booking.

Our win-back strategy was four-fold:

To reignite their passion for travel: give them permission and encouragement to start planning their next holiday now, no matter what the future holds.

To position P&O Cruises as the safest choice: with 180 years of experience, and a keen eye on the future, we would be here for our guests no matter what.

To tap into the individuality of their dreams: use data modelling to present them with the destinations that they love and the experiences that excite them, even down to whether they like to spend their time on board partying or relaxing.

To sail through this journey at the right speed: the world had been turned upside down. There was a lot to think about and we wanted to reflect this in the way in which we presented information – to give time and space to make what felt like a huge decision to guests.


Yes we wanted to get guests back on board, but in a way that respected all they had been through and the continued uncertainty they faced.

Our approach was to respect the disappointment of cancelled cruises, the fears around rebooking, and to allow the space needed to reconnect with their own travel dreams. All underpinned by the reliability and solidity of the brand.

To this end, we created a four-stage email campaign which became more personalised as it progressed:

This narrative – from a reassuring whisper of a future cruise to a roar of excitement that their experience was waiting for them – was supported by breathtaking photography. Booking methods were clearly presented to offer choice and help bring those dreams to reality.

We used interactivity to give control to our guests and invite exploration of their future cruise themselves, combined with proprietary tracking pixels to measure the effectiveness of our content.

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