Thoughtful customer relations or horrid PR?
The Washington Post reported
that Costa Cruise Lines, which operated the Costa Concordia that ran aground last week off the coast of Italy, is offering survivors a 30 percent discount on future cruises.
According to London’s Telegraph newspaper
“A spokesman for Costa Cruises said: ‘The company is trying to do everything they can for those passengers directly affected.
“‘The company is not only going to refund everybody but they will offer a 30 per cent discount on future cruises if they want to stay loyal to the company.’"
In addition to offering Costa survivors a refund and discount, Carnival, the cruise liner’s parent company, has been calling victims, asking them if they’re suffering from nightmares and sleeplessness.
The move has angered at least one survivor of the crash, who told The Telegraph
that it’s a “ridiculous and insulting offer.” Another report
suggested that the offer might encourage passengers to join the list of roughly 100 survivors who have filed a class action lawsuit against the cruise company.
A 13th victim of the tragedy was discovered this week, while 20 remain missing.
Costa and the ship’s captain have traded accusations
over who's to blame, with the company claiming the captain steered the boat too close to shore and abandoned ship; meanwhile, the captain insists he was given permission to approach the island.
All told, the discount and outreach is a major PR blunder, a media law attorney and PR strategist said in a tweet.
“If it's true that the cruise company is doing this [offering a discount], it's one of the bigger PR blunders we've seen in awhile,” tweeted Mark R. Weaver
Other PR strategists have criticized the cruise liner’s response.
Allyson Stewart-Allen, director of the consulting firm International Marketing Partners, told The Christian Science Monitor
that Carnival’s PR strategy earns a four of out 10 by her estimation.
Costa and Carnival issued numerous statement throughout the week last week, including one
from Carnival CEO Micky Arison that said:
We are deeply saddened by the reports of additional deaths following the grounding of the Costa Concordia. On behalf of the entire Carnival Corporation & plc team, I offer our heartfelt condolences to all of those families affected by this tragedy.