Cruising along with Influence, Part 2

When I made my last posting I mentioned my wife, Jane, and I were leaving for a cruise. We enjoyed a five-day, four-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas in the Western Caribbean. We had a great time and, on top of that, I got my idea for this week’s Influence PEOPLE posting!

When I teach the two-day Principles of Persuasion workshop one of the six principles of influence I talk about is the principle of consensus. Consensus tells us people generally look to others to determine how they should act in different situations. We tend to take our cues from large groups of people or people we see as similar to ourselves. If you’re a parent with teens you might call this “peer pressure.” No matter how you label it, the reality is we’re heavily influenced by the actions of others, particularly when we’re not quite sure what to do.

A study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of different messaging in an effort to get hotel guests to reuse their towels rather than have them washed and get new ones each day when staying for more than one night. Door hangers were used to try to accomplish this. One door hanger used a message with only an environmental appeal, “Help Save the Environment,” followed by some information on the importance of the environment. We live in a time when going green is important so this message was somewhat effective; towel reuse went up 37.2%.

A second message was tested, one that engaged the principle of consensus. The wording at the top of the second door hanger read, “Join Your Fellow Guests in Helping Save the Environment.” Beneath the heading it went on to mention 75% of guests had participated in the new towel reuse program. When this message was used towel reuse rate increased to 44.0%.

The hotel was committed to doing something to motivate its guests to help save the environment so the cost of the door hangers was a constant. The real consideration was how to best make the appeal and get the desired behavior. As you saw with the experiment, tapping into what others were doing was the better form of motivation because it resulted in an 18.3% increase over the environmental only appeal. Now that you know this, which message would you use if you were in charge of soliciting the help of others to go green?

So what does this have to do with the cruise Jane and I were just on? Royal Caribbean participates in a program known as “Save the Waves.” Because of the towel reuse study, Royal Caribbean’s “Save the Waves” placard hanging in the bathroom caught my eye. Here’s how it read,

Protect Our Oceans At Royal Caribbean, reducing waste and conserving resources such as water and electricity is a large part of the company’s Save the Waves program. You can help us reduce waste generated by laundering and conserve water by using your towel more than once. Simply place the towel on the rack to indicate: “I’ll use again.” Place the towel on the floor to indicate: “Please exchange.”

I give Royal Caribbean an “A” for effort — helping the environment is a good thing — but only a “C” for execution. With almost 40 ships in its fleet and a capacity of 79,000 passengers at any one time, approximately four million passengers cruise with Royal Caribbean each year. Increasing towel reuse and decreasing electricity usage for 5%, 10%, perhaps even 20% more passengers can have a huge overall impact on the ocean and the Royal Caribbean’s expenses.Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t work for a hotel or cruise line so what’s this have to do with me?” Each of us has countless opportunities to influence people every day and too often we don’t leverage the science of influence which means we’re not as successful as we could be. If a huge corporation like Royal Caribbean, which has a lot at stake with helping preserve the environment and reducing expenses, can miss a golden opportunity, who are we to think we’re not missing them too, especially when we have so much less on the line?

As I noted last week, this is the type of real world application I’ll be sharing with you as we continue this persuasion journey together. I welcome your feedback so click on the comments link below and let me know what you thought of this week’s article.


Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
1 reply
  1. Tobi
    Tobi says:

    Brian I really enjoyed this post – we need to stop thinking like your example “I don’t work for a hotel or cruise line so what’s this have to do with me?” … The actions of everyone influence others – directly or indirectly.
    Keep up the great blogging I really enjoy reading them.


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