In 2014 I listened to many experts talk about what helps create loyalty in business and how best to generate and keep new customers. All content is helpful in its own right; some of the experts for their brilliance, some that have set alarm bells ringing and a few that have reaffirmed my belief that just because the billing says "expert" there's no guarantee the content has relevance or is even, at the very least, interesting.

This prompts me to recall a recent experience that opened my mind to how loyalty in some sectors is more easily achieved than in others, and how some people, this experience included, are brilliant at delivering a WOW.

Imagine you were planning to create an ‘experience’ within the holiday and leisure sector with the headline "this changes everything", and that it was your intention to really do so? How would you go about it? Stick with me and read on. The target audience had heard it all before and, historically, is one of the hardest to please. The trade media were intrigued from the get go but despite their appetite for a good story and all the hoorays, we knew the knives were being sharpened in the background, just in case the billing was misleading, as it “often is in this industry". The budget gets approved and it's $1billion! - the largest in history for such an awareness/loyalty-building campaign. What could it be?

My invitation arrives, inviting me to New York City for an “unforgettable experience - prepare to be wowed". There’s nothing like a bit of pre-experience hype, but when the budget is $1billion, I guess you are entitled to get excited. The enclosed itinerary looked action-packed so could it really provide all the things it promised in such a location?

BA flew me to New York where we had an evening in of entertainment followed by dinner at the interestingly named "Momofuku" which was spectacular and a huge hit with everyone, but as it turned out, was just the curtain raiser. Travelling through New York City to Cape Liberty was another pleasant experience and boy was it worth it. As we entered Cape Liberty, our home for the next three days came into view. The magnificent ship "QUANTUM OF THE SEAS". It was truly breathtaking. Check-in was a great experience with individual roving check-in staff, using their tablets, it took less than 3 minutes, (airlines could do with an introduction to this system!). Security was slick, but efficient, also helpful staff that were friendly and QUICK, a unique experience.

Once on board, having safely checked into our State Room, it was time to explore what the ship had to offer; thankfully we had three whole days! The Bionic Bar - Drinks anyone? A quick stop for a robot made cocktail, another first for the industry and entertaining as well. North Star - A jewel shaped capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level and provides quite exceptional views of each destination you sail to. I was lucky enough to be in the North Star as we sailed out of Cape Liberty so had a stunning overhead view of the Statue of Liberty as we sailed past her. SeaPlex - An entertainment zone that has to be seen to be believed; bumper cars, roller-skating and a floating DJ booth, pumping out the high tempo tunes. There is also a circus school and a trapeze as well as game zones and table tennis, a full day’s entertainment in this zone alone. Flowrider - Providing an amazing surfing experience. As you surf, you get to view the ocean and cruise towards your next destination, spectacular. Ripcord by IFly - My personal favourite - the thrill of skydiving out on the deep blue ocean and something that everyone should do if they get the chance! It's exhilarating and just brilliant fun, but don't do it after half a dozen drinks in the Bionic Bar or you won't make any friends (The on-board laundry service might be busy for a few days).

Evening Entertainment - You will be spoilt for choice every evening! In the Royal Theatre you could enjoy a full West End Musical, we saw the amazing "Mamma Mia", followed by the brilliant Roboshow in the Two70, another breathtaking venue with some very clever graphics and screens as well as music and shows. Then to conclude the evening, you could watch some of the tribute acts in the Music Hall. Dynamic Dining - There was a choice of 18 restaurants to choose from, with catering influenced by the author and chef Devin Alexander and restaurants operated by Celebrity Chefs Jamie Oliver and Michael Schwartz. For us, it was difficult to know where to start, so we tried a bit of everything from Wonderland’s exquisite menus to the Silk restaurant’s Thai menu. Wherever we went the food was superb and equally surprising, the service was faultless. On board entertainment never stops A casino - as big and spectacular as anything London or New York has to offer. A spa - that even my wife would never tire of. Sensational facilities and once again equal to none customer service. Shopping - on board shopping offers some exceptional experiences. With all the top brands on board you can find something for every occasion and taste. The kids – numerous options of clubs offer the opportunity for kids to have an activity-filled time with excellent care and loads of fun. To conclude our special experience, we took a helicopter tour over New York City, another WOW to add to the list. It's fair to say, when being told "prepare to be WOWED" it somewhat set our expectations. Well … if you say it, you have to believe it! Congratulations Royal Caribbean, my experience was beyond my expectations. And, for those sceptics out there, don't just take my word for it, take a look at this … www.royalcaribbean.co.uk Whilst Royal Caribbean may not claim to be ‘loyalty gurus’, the experience on QUANTUM OF THE SEAS both demonstrated the perfect way to generate new business and once experienced, loyalty to this experience will surely follow.

With this experience, Corporate Innovations can surely help you create the best awareness campaign for your company/product with loyalty sure to follow. Contact us for a chat.