Brand plans in the Caribbean
As cruising grows globally, the Caribbean finds itself competing with rich destinations that have plenty of capital. How do Caribbean countries find the resources to keep their edge in the battle for passengers?
One solution appears to be to tap into the power of established local brands, as some cruise lines and tour operators are doing in Jamaica.
Royal Caribbean International has struck a branding partnership with Red Stripe, the well-known beer brewed on the island by Desnoes & Geddes. The beer's squat brown bottle and painted label are a Jamaican icon, and it is distributed in a number of foreign countries by Diageo, the worldwide liquor marketer.
Another example is support by Appleton Rum for tours of the 2,000 acre Good Hope estate, a plantation near Falmouth where Royal’s giant Oasis and Allure of the Seas ships dock.
Tour operator Chukka Caribbean Adventures offers the culturally-focused tours. This year it developed excursions for guests to the estate based on coffee, spices and rum, all which were once produced at the historical attraction.
Visitors can take a step back in time to when plantation culture was in its prime, and then purchase products before returning to their ship.
In addition to Appleton, sponsors include Jablum Coffee and Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning.
The use of international brands leverages the earning power of local Caribbean businesses beyond what they might otherwise yield. Some of that money can be returned to marketing local tourist sites to international travelers, fueling a virtuous cycle.
The possibility for rum and beer sponsorships across the Caribbean seems especially promising, with nearly every island producing its own version of rum, from Cruzan in the Virgin Islands to Mount Gay in Barbados and Betancourt in Haiti.
Beyond Red Stripe, beer exports with international followings include Presidente and Bohemia in the Dominican Republic and Kalik in the Bahamas.
Branded partnerships represent the kind of creative financial thinking that Caribbean destinations will have to employ to compete with rich destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong for cruise passengers.
Home-grown brands are a not-so-hidden Caribbean asset, and the time is ripe to put them to good use.