Stephen Seabolt of Carnival’s Social Brand Fathom: “Many People Hunger for a Different Travel Experience.”

Doral, FL based cruise ship giant Carnival Cruise recently introduced a social impact travel brand called Fathom. Fathom will operate as a standalone brand, the 10th global brand in the Carnival Corporation. Fathom’s first destination, starting in April 2016, will be the Dominican Republic, a country known for its spectacular beauty but also a country where the average household income is approximately $6,000 USD a year and more than two million Dominicans do not have access to piped water. Portada Stephen Seabolt, VP of Marketing at Fathom, about the launch of Fathom and the role of social impact travel.

Portada: What insights did you get (research) that motivated you to launch fathom?
Stephen Seabolt, vice president of marketing, Fathom:
“Through the research we did with a variety of customers, we found many people hungering for a different type of travel experience. We discovered a sizable group of people who want to make a lasting, positive impact when they travel, but they don’t know where to begin or how to create that type of trip on their own. Tara, president of fathom, addresses this pretty well in the press release: “During the past 10 years, in countless conversations I have had with people eager to serve others and make meaningful societal contributions, there has been a common theme – people struggle to know where they fit in and often people have challenges finding trusted, easy ways to make a difference,” said Russell. “fathom exists to address this desire and to create enduring, life-changing impact, both in the communities where fathom operates, and in the lives of the travelers who embark on one of our journeys, allowing for unique impact experiences before, during and after the trip.We also heard many customers in research talk about the importance of community. When they travel, they want to be part of a like-minded community who shares their goals for lasting social impact. And they want to have meaningful interactions with the locals in the community they visit, to learn from them and work alongside them.”

In what parts of the world is impact/cause marketing most effective?
“We believe that impact travel could be effective and beneficial in many communities throughout the world. It has less to do with the geography, and more about the local community context. The Dominican Republic has great beauty, yet also has real need, with 40% of the population living below the poverty line. However, the country has a strong infrastructure for impact, with several community development organizations that have a long history of success working alongside the community to create programs that result in lasting transformation. Our lead on-ground Dominican impact partners, Entrena and IDDI, have deep roots in the Dominican Republic. Their long-established programs and strong community connections in the northern region of the country enable us to understand the specific needs and come alongside them to address the needs.Many communities across the globe have these ingredients as well, and have strong local organizations with a track record of successful community development. By partnering with these organizations, and working with the local community to identify the priority needs where our travelers could be most beneficial, we could effectively implement impact travel in many countries.”

What role does the Hispanic population play when it comes to Carnival Corporation’s marketing strategy?
S.S.: “The Hispanic guest is important part of our customer set, especially when you consider key markets for us such as Florida, Texas and California. We have been marketing to our Hispanic customers through traditional media and expect to more outreach through Hispanic media in the coming months.”

Note: Omnicom’s PHD is Carnival Cruise Media buying agency.However, at this point the new Fathom brand does not have a media buying agency. “Their advertising/creative agency is Quo Vadis based in Atlanta, but they are doing very limited media buying at this time and don’t plan to purchase any advertising space of significance until they have a revenue stream (probably 2016):, a spokesperson at Fathom tells Portada.