The selection of TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners is based on millions of registered reviews over the past year. “It is great that we have already been able to achieve this,” said Rasmus Emmelkamp, co-owner of Flagship Amsterdam.
Emmelkamp: “To what do we owe this number 1 place? As our guests write: We have an incredibly cool, young and enthusiastic team – that ensures a high level of entertainment, knows what hospitality is and serves the best drinks. In addition, we also have beautiful (open) boats where you want to be seen. “
This year Flagship Amsterdam was not only rated as number 1 “Best day cruise in the world”, but also as number 2 “Best experience in Europe” and number 3 “Best experience in the world”.
Flagship Amsterdam offers various tours in the heart of Amsterdam. In 2017 they started with 3 boats and that number has now grown to 24.
Brigit Heddes is responsible for marketing & design at the shipping company.
How have you fared in recent months?
“Unfortunately, we also stopped for 3 months. Normally our season starts in April, so it was about time. Meanwhile we slowly see the tourists come back. The tourists who come are mainly from neighboring countries and Dutch who opt for a day trip in their own country. We have noticed that our open boats for the cruise are more popular than the “closed glass containers”. People want to sit in the open air. The corona crisis has also had a great effect on our skippers and hostesses who have been unable to sail for months. The 1.5 meter society also has a lot of effect on our company. At the moment we can only fill our boats with passengers for 25% because of the 1.5 meter distance. “
Have major changes been made to marketing and advertising?
“We had to revise our strategy. We initially focused on passers-by and tourists from distant countries, but now we focus more than before on online sales, our OTAs (Online Travel Agency -red.) And tourists from our own country or neighboring countries. We are aware that our guests expect flexibility from us, so they can always rebook to another moment. We will communicate this when a ticket is booked. Our marketing strategy is very different from other companies in this industry anyway. We are only 2.5 years old and have to prove ourselves to the big old-fashioned shipping companies that have existed for 20 years with a large marketing budget. We have a small marketing budget and our marketing tool is our guests themselves. You can say that all our guests are our ambassadors. If they liked our tour, they’ll leave a review. This pushes us again to continue to focus on quality and experience. Because someone sincerely shares his opinion, others know what to expect and we can learn from it. A good example was when we received a review from someone who was sorry that we used plastic straws. That day we decided to serve paper straws with the drinks from now on. We already sail with 100% electric boats and serve drinks in biodegradable cups, but this step brings us even closer to a sustainable way of tourism. “
We have a small marketing budget and our marketing tool is our guests themselves. You can say that all our guests are our ambassadors
Do you see notable customer shifts and why?
“We used to receive many guests from, for example, the United States and the UK. We now see more neighboring countries and Dutch people coming to the city to enjoy a beautiful cruise. At the beginning we expected more tourists to wear a mask, but we see that many tourists feel comfortable in the open air with a small group on board.
Is there a recovery in the cruise?
“Tourists are slowly coming back, it is getting more and more, but we are not there yet! We are happy that the local market comes with us and is a tourist in our own country. It will take a while before the tourists from distant countries return, but for now we are happy that we are one of the few shipping companies that are open and allowed to sail around! A special moment was when the first boats started sailing again. The canals and streets were practically empty and this was a beautiful sight for the guests on board. Amsterdam has never been so quiet and empty. Of course this is not what we had in mind, but it was a unique experience. Because we sail on a boat with much less than usual, it seemed to many as if they had a private boat. We saw one 5 star review after another. Very rewarding to read that we were able to give the guests an incredibly cool experience again. “
What do you currently see as the biggest challenge for marketers, especially with regard to the corona crisis of course?
“Keep a cool head and dare to change. Adapt your product, communication and marketing to the needs of the customer. In addition, it is currently even more important to be visible online. In March we immediately started booking more products online and optimizing our texts and photos. Fortunately, we have good partners who help us with that. “
What do you think the world of advertising and marketing will look like in 5 months?
“It is difficult to say. Today we look to tomorrow. I think we should think more creatively and collaborate more with each other. We have to accept that it will not be the way it was – but respond to the new normal. “