I have never shied away from criticizing a company when it is deserved. Just take a look at my blog! But I am also fair and will give credit when credit is due. Carnival Cruise Lines has rightfully earned its fair share of criticism over the past year for their ever changing policies which are distinctly agent unfriendly. But last week, they may have redeemed themselves in my book.
We all know the story of the Carnival Splendor, the fire, and the Spam. While the media wanted to create a millennial version of the Titanic of this episode, they came up dry. The event was unforeseeable and as it played out, everyone (crew, passengers, and headquarters) realized that there was very little to be accomplished by panicking. Everyone simply dealt with the problem as best as they could. And it had a happy ending.
The passengers who disembarked received a full refund, a credit for a future cruise, and their transportation costs home. In addition, the bars were open on board and 100% of any onboard spending was refunded. Aside from the days lost from work, they were made whole and then some. Bravo to Carnival! Without a doubt, this will be the most expensive cruise that Carnival has ever sailed when you consider that the ship will be missing an estimated 10 sailings if they are lucky. No doubt Mickey Arison is wistfully remembering the “good old days” when the Mardi Gras ran aground on her maiden voyage!
In every business, mistakes will happen. Sometimes they will be unavoidable and other times they are simply a result of carelessness. It is how you deal with it that will make the difference to your customers. I would venture to say that 90% of the passengers on the Splendor are less than thrilled with the experience, but ecstatic about the resolution. If Carnival can capture those 90% and keep them cruising, it is a win. Celebrity recently canceled a cruise in the Mediterranean and they are feeling the heat for their seemingly poor response to the inconvenience.
Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill was the first person on board the ship when it was tugged into San Diego and he personally addressed the guests and apologized—that is class! How do you handle your problems? Do you take the bull by the horns, admit when you are wrong and do whatever it takes to make it right? Or do you deflect responsibility? Doing the right thing, under the wrong circumstances will make your agency stand head and shoulders above the crowd.