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Old 10-09-2013, 04:21 PM
Bob Reynolds Bob Reynolds is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Paragould, AR or on m/v MAGNOLIA
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Jon, Greg, Lexie and Wesley all have what I think are good ideas. I'm not sure the "deck passage" (no assigned room, sleep on a couch) thing would still work - Homeland Security, for one thing. However, I see nothing wrong with a shorter trip-within-a-trip, like going from St. Louis to Davenport on a St. Louis-St. Paul trip or Memphis-Paducah on a Memphis-Cincinnati trip. As Lexie said, it used to be done quite often.

When the Greene's started the "tourist steamer" idea (no freight), all trips originated and ended in Cincinnati, period. You booked what you wanted according to that schedule. I don't advocate a return to that concept, but something like Greg mentions would work nicely, especially if you allowed partial trips.

I also thought Betty Blake's idea of the weekend trips was excellent, and it certainly allowed me to cruise for the first couple of times. I simply would not have had the time or money to take a week-long trip, period. As it was, I did take two weekend trips and then (as Lex also mentions) that was not enough to suit me so I got a job on the boat. They could run weekenders out of NOLA, Memphis, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and St. Paul as they used to. They could even do one out of Paducah, Nashville and/or Chattanooga. Advertising costs can be reduced by concentrating on local and regional advertising for those trips instead of national ads (except for the main brochure).

Speaking of brochures, they should put the fares up where folks can see them and not have to dig and search. It is what it is. Either people want to go and can afford it (or will find a way to afford it) or they don't. Let them have the info up front. List the trips in chronological order -- folks know when they can travel and when they can't -- have it out there so they can see what's what and say, "OOOH, they're going to be running a trip out of St. Louis (or wherever) that week we'll be off!" Put pictures of real passengers on the boat in the brochures (not models) and have the crew included in that.

We all know this is not the 1970's anymore. We know mistakes were made in the past and people get their information differently now. However, they're selling an early 20th century experience on an early 20th century boat. The market they're trying to capture still thinks in "20th Century" terms. Why not market in that way, at least partially?

Steamboat cruises have never been cheap. Those who want to go will go, and those who cannot will dream, scrimp and save or they will wish. As Lexie said, the fares will never be what the Caribbean cruises are.
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