Travel through the Eyes of a Marketer

By John R. Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Dec 28
Picture of John and Dorothy Aberle boarding Carnival Inspiration, December 23, 2016

Traveling, even on a vacation, can be a wonderful opportunity to view other lives and other businesses through the “Eyes of a Marketer.” John (me) and Dorothy did just that this Christmas when they took a three-day cruise on the Carnival Inspiration out of Long Beach California to Ensenada Mexico and back. It included a relaxing day at sea.

Carnival's Pixel photographers to this photo of John and Dorothy Aberle boarding Carnival Inspiration, December 23, 2016

John and Dorothy Aberle boarding Carnival Inspiration, December 23, 2016


The wonder of this all-inclusive cruise was how many ways the Carnival Inspiration managed to do up sells. Technically, there is no claim that everything is included. But for all practical purposes, a typical cruise vacation includes all your basics: your room and all your meals as well as snacks 24 hours a day plus live entertainment daily. Nevertheless, the cruise ship has all sorts of up sells:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Souvenir shop
  • Jewelry store
  • Liquor store
  • Shore excursions, i.e. tours available for a fee at each destination
    • In 2015, we took the “Behind the Fun” tour that gave us insights into the infrastructure of feeding over 3,000 people (passengers and crew) per cruise as well as providing drinking water, clean sheets and entertainment as well as piloting and running such a large vessel.
    • In 2016 (this year), we took the “Taste of Mexico” tour.
  • Art auctions
  • Bingo
  • Casino when outside the 12-mile international border of the United States
  • Upgraded dining experience for an additional charge
    • On some cruise lines or ships, they even have separate dining rooms
    • On the Inspiration, they had upgraded plates like Lobster and Filet Mignon
    • This year the Inspiration also offered the opportunity to eat at the Chef’s Table
  • Photos from your shore excursions, formal (or suit and tie) dinners, and at your table during meals – they even include up sells to the photo upsell, like frames and bundled packages, and cameras. Carnival’s photo service, Pixel, then used gifts to encourage reaching a certain dollar value, like a Carnival ship-shaped flash drive with your pictures and the opportunity to buy pictures on canvas at a discount for buying five of their “Elegant” poses.
  • Souvenir glasses and mugs with the bar drinks
    • They even have a special Carnival logo emblazoned water bottle carrier with a 1.5 liter bottle of water available before going ashore.

Picture of Dorothy and John Aberle at Dinner in the Carnival Dining Room on the Inspiration

Dorothy and John Aberle at Dinner in the Carnival Dining Room on the Inspiration

The “Taste of Mexico” shore excursion included learning to make your own salsa and to make a corn flour “dish” to hold the meat they gave us. It was a wonderful experience that added the depth of learning about new foods and a broader understanding of another culture. It also offered the opportunity to do some shopping.

It also serves as inspiration to how a smart, enterprising entrepreneur can do a joint venture with a much larger organization to create a win-win-win for their mutual customers, the larger business and the small business.

Picture of Dorothy Aberle waiting at Restaurante 645 for Carnival Inspiration’s Taste of Mexico excursion activity to begin


Dorothy Aberle waiting at Restaurante 645 for Carnival Inspiration’s Taste of Mexico excursion activity to begin

The following is taken from

John R. Aberle's Facebook Profile Pic




John R. Aberle

  • 3 seconds ago, i.e. Tuesday, December 27, 2016, 2:55 PM PST – 4 star rating

Dorothy and I loved the experience of making salsa with peppers graded to our own preference for mild so we used the roasted chipotle and roasted poblano chilies. Our only disappointment was that they used only one chef to deep fry the rimmed dishes we made from masa for our meal. Dorothy told me that each one you drop in lowers the temperature of the oil so it took longer to cook everyone’s little dishes. (Obviously, I missed the name of these dishes – they weren’t flat like a tortilla. Instead we put a rim on them sort of like a tart.) Otherwise, Les and his partner Gustavo, provided a marvelous experience.

This whole Christmas cruise experience is an example of enjoying a “Business Lifestyle.” By getting out and experiencing other businesses and ways of life, you expand your horizons and increase your ability to be creative in your own business.

In particular, it is fascinating to see how many ways Carnival has found to do an up sell that significantly increases their revenues while greatly enhancing their customers’ enjoyment. Look too at the things they do to make a better all-around event for you.

Recently on the Inspiration, they replaced their outdoor deck restaurants on the Lido Deck with Guy Fieri’s “Guy’s Burger Joint” and the Blue Iguana Cantina. And to confirm that they have heart, Carnival supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. They are the Official Celebration Partner for St. Jude. This brings in with the power of cause marketing, showing that you are socially responsible by supporting a worthy cause.

From a customer loyalty point of view, they seek and respond to customer feedback. This year, they had a smartphone app that you could download and connect to onboard for free. It gave you the day’s events plus other important information. Additionally, you can send them comments.

Additionally, Carnival rewards loyal customers with VIFP Club member status. For instance, at the Gold level, you get a complimentary Gold VIFP (VIP + Fun) pin with the year of your cruise on every sailing and a free liter bottle of water.

The point here isn’t for you to try to imitate a major cruise line any more than “Santa’s Visit Was a Clever Marketing Experience” was about your trying to put on a Christmas shopping and Santa Claus program on the scale of Disney and Victoria Gardens. Just like “JV Partners Are Where You Find Them” tried to give more practical examples of joint venture partnerships you can try, look at this article for three things:

  1. An example of the business lifestyle where you view all the events in your life, including vacations, as an opportunity to get new ideas to expand your own business
  2. A series of ideas that you can use as a resource to pick and choose from so as to spark your own creativity for products, services, up sells and joint ventures
  3. What ways can you create an upsell that actually expands and improves your customer’s service?

If you got some ideas of value from this article, please share it on your favorite social media site: “Travel through the Eyes of a Marketer.” I’d also love to hear about your favorite examples of marketing ideas and up sells.

Open your heart in selling,

John's digital signature written with mouse
​John R. Aberle, Aberle Enterprises


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About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.