Managing crisis in the cruise industry: using internal communications to foster workforce resilience

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Purpose: This paper aims to investigates the use of internal communications to foster workforce resilience in the cruise industry during a crisis. Drawing on the regulatory focus theory, this study explores how internal communication strategies can build employee resilience particularly at a time of difficulty. The regulatory focus theory explores the employee’s rationale for goal pursuit. Prevention-focused individuals are concerned with safety and responsibility while promotion-focused individuals focus on goal advancement. The authors seek to broaden the existing understanding of the application of the regulatory focus theory as a lens to inform internal communications crisis strategies. 

Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative research using 15-semi structured interviews with cruise industry experts was undertaken during the pandemic. Applying a sensemaking and sense giving approach the researchers thematically analyzed the data in three stages, allowing for new theoretical insights to be uncovered. 

Findings: The findings suggest that internal communication strategies should include prevention-focused messages emphasizing the cruise companies’ responsibility to employees, and promotion-focused communications, to include social interaction and individual growth opportunities. 

Originality/value: This study’s contribution is three-fold. First, the authors extend the theoretical application of the regulatory focus theory to internal communication and identify a novel concurrent application of both prevention- and promotion-focused messages for developing a resilient workforce. Second, the authors introduce a preliminary conceptualization of an internal crisis communication strategy, emphasizing the concurrent application of prevention- and promotion-focused messages. Finally, the author offer practical suggestions for managing crisis communication strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalTourism Review
Early online date14 Jun 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 14 Jun 2023


  • crisis
  • cruise
  • internal communications
  • regulatory focus theory
  • resilience

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