Google Spotlights 180fusion's Success with Hornblower Cruises and Events | 180fusion

The following is taken from Google’s case study using 180fusion’s success with Hornblower Cruises and Events…

Since Hornblower Founder and CEO Terry MacRae purchased a small charter yacht business in 1980, the California-based company has focused on one mission: delivering premier, high-quality dining, entertainment, and cruise experiences.

Now the largest charter cruise line in North America, the company sails from seven California port cities and New York City. It also operates two National Park Service concessions and cruises in the Niagara Falls Gorge. Guests choose Hornblower for vacations, weddings, corporate outings, galas and more.

Like all successful businesses, Hornblower has seen marketing evolve in the digital age. While sales have been consistent, the company knew that the latest online marketing tools could increase return-on-investment (ROI) and speed up sales.

Using Modern Marketing Services to Increase Booking

Hornblower engaged 180fusion to improve their Google AdWords performance worldwide. Hornblower’s Head of Digital Marketing had previously worked with 180fusion and knew their capabilities well. After evaluating 180fusion’s detailed analysis of Hornblower’s past online marketing performance, the company chose 180fusion from a pool of notable vendors, and the needed overhaul of its Paid Search endeavors began. Hornblower found that 180fusion’s combination of specialized expertise, attention to detail, and personal attention made for an ideal partner on the project.

180fusion’s full-service, fully integrated approach made 180fusion more an extension of Hornblower’s in-house marketing team than a mere contractor. The primary goal was utilizing Paid Search to increase bookings across all channels: corporate charters, wedding charters, and public dining cruises. As in most marketing campaigns, the biggest challenge was increasing ROI – in this case by reducing costs-per-booking – while balancing the needs and budgets of individual port locations.

A Full-Service Solution

The 180Fusion Paid Search team began restructuring the account by optimizing all campaign-level settings in the account, including Ad Delivery, Ad Rotation, and Bidding settings. The Search Partners Network was also enabled for additional ad coverage based on existing keywords. Next, keywords were segmented and grouped into more closely themed Ad Groups for improved Ad Relevance and Quality Scores.

“AdWords is worth the investment when done correctly and managed carefully. 180fusion has been a great strategic partner and we’ve been very pleased with the results we’ve achieved with them.” -Stephanie Sawler, Sr. Corporate Digital Marketing Manager, Hornblower

Following the Ad Group realignment, the team:

• Paused non-performing keywords
• Dramatically reduced bids on underperforming keywords
• Implemented Ad Schedule bid adjustments
• Introduced negative keywords to limit spend to keywords most likely to generate conversions

Once keywords received proper treatment, new ad copy was created and split-tested against existing ad copy, and all relevant Ad Extensions were enabled. Landing pages were audited and updated to improve content with an eye to better Ad Relevance, ad Click-through Rates, and Page Conversion.

Then campaign budgets were reallocated to accommodate the new data and setup. This caused spending to increase in the most profitable campaigns and decrease in the least profitable campaigns, maximizing ROI.

A Summer of Sold-Out Schedules

The new account structure showed dramatic improvements in a short time. The total number of leads generated through AdWords increased 144% in four months.

Other account metrics also improved:

• Cost-per-click – decreased 17%
• Click-through rate – increased 30%
• Form-fill conversions – increased 27%
• Cost-per-conversion – decreased 31%

These improvements produced immediate results. Hornblower sold out their entire summer schedule of dinner cruises months earlier than expected – and met annual revenue goals for the year a full quarter ahead of schedule.

Sailing Forward with 180Fusion

180fusion’s work created both immediate and big-picture results for Hornblower. In the short-term, the proof is in the increased conversion rates and faster sales. In the long-term, Hornblower now has a much more solid foundation for Paid Search, which can be adapted for further campaigns, as their offerings and strategy evolve. As Stephanie Sawler, Sr. Corporate Digital Marketing Manager of Hornblower says, “AdWords is worth the investment when done correctly and managed carefully. 180fusion has been a great strategic partner and we’ve been very pleased with the results we’ve achieved with them.”

A Review of the Case Study


• Maximize ROI across campaigns
• Reduce unproductive keywords and ads
• Sell more reservations
• Increase conversion rates


• Segment keywords into appropriate groups
• Optimize landing page content
• Revise ad copy
• Optimize budget allocation across campaigns


• Decreased Cost-per-Click (17%) and Cost-per Conversion (31%)
• Increased Click-through Rate (30%) and Form-fill Conversions (27%)
• 144% more AdWords leads over four-month span
• Annual revenue goal met three months early
• Summer reservations filled up months in advance


Contact 180fusion today to find out what we can do for you!