We have two cruise lines to thank for reminding us that not every marketing initiative must involve the Internet, a hand-held device or a new word that sounds like a middle-school fad. We're thinking specifically of new twists for Crystal's referral program and the Alliance direct-mail program at Cunard and Princess.



Your read it right. Referrals and direct mail. These ol' standbys apparently still work.

In Crystal's case, the line is offering cash -- lots of it -- to past passengers who refer new customers. The reward for referring a couple for a cruise of eight days or more is $2,000, and referring passengers can earn up to $6,000.

Our first reaction when we heard of this program was that Crystal made a mistake. "It's too generous," we thought. But that's precisely the point. As Crystal's new senior vice president of marketing and sales, Jack Anderson, explained in these pages last week, the program is an "extraordinary opportunity" for agents to get proactive and contact all of their Crystal customers as well as a memorable way to thank loyal guests.

Cunard and Princess, meanwhile, had taken their Alliance direct-mail program to the next level, advising participating agents that clients who respond to the program this year can save up to $400 per couple.

What's refreshing about these programs is that they didn't summarily toss out old-fangled methods in favor of new-fangled methods. They added attention-getting incentives to proven concepts in a way that can drive business to agents.

That's something that should never go out of style.
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