An Exploration of the Value of Internal and External Marketing Communications in the Pre-consumption Phase of Cruise Travel

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Effective internal and external communications that are delivered to employees and consumers at the right time and with the correct message are essential to business success. The cruise sector, like other service industries can have a delay between purchase and service consumption. Therefore, understanding how to communicate successfully with all stakeholders in this post-booking and pre-consumption phase is fundamental. It will help ensure that those delivering the service understand what is required and consumer relationships can continue to thrive during this phase.
This compilation thesis explores the services marketing landscape through the lens of the customer journey. The customer journey commonly refers to a process or sequence that a customer undertakes to access an offering of a company (Følstad & Kvale, 2018). This work considers both internal and external marketing communications in the pre-consumption phase of cruise travel. The contribution of this thesis innovates marketing communication theory by applying an interdisciplinary approach using regulatory focus theory (RFT), construal level theory (CLT) and anticipation theory with marketing management theory to provide a contribution to literature in the under-researched phase of pre-consumption communications. This course of study was completed during COVID-19 (which commenced beginning March 2020 onwards) and the research has therefore enhanced crisis communications approaches by providing novel insights and contribution to both literature and practice.
The five articles incorporate both internal and external communications and explore the consumer journey during the pre-consumption phase. The first two papers consider strategies to help enhance internal communications to build resilience, loyalty and business acumen. Having a dedicated workforce helps ensure that the staff remain loyal to a brand and enhance the pre- consumption experience for consumers. The next two publications consider consumers’ anticipatory reactions to their cruise trip and suggest how customer experience management can be extended to embrace the pre-consumption phase. The final article considers crisis external marketing communications during the pre-consumption phase. The work specifically details internal communications and pre-consumption cruise passenger reaction which subsequently informs external communications.
The contributions of this thesis are as follows: first, two evidence-based frameworks are offered to provide insights to both internal and external communication planning. Second, a conceptual framework is presented, exploring the impact of anticipation during the pre-consumption phase of a cruise consumer. Third, holistically, the five peer reviewed publications that comprise this thesis advance marketing theory and practice in a cruise industry context. Specifically, they contribute novel conceptualisations to innovate internal and external communication processes during the pre-consumption phase of consumer purchase. In doing so, marketing scholarship and practice is developed to understand the nuances of crisis communications.
Date of Award15 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorJudith Fletcher-Brown (Supervisor), Elaine Rust (Supervisor) & Giampaolo Viglia (Supervisor)

Cite this