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What Technology is Doing for the Cruise Industry

file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa
file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa

By Ian Richardson 2018-09-06 18:35:59

To help the cruise industry capitalize on the benefits of technology, ICE’s Co-Founder and CEO, Ian Richardson has agreed to chair a new technology initiative as part of Cruise Lines International Association’s Executive Partner Program. This initiative brings together cruise lines, technology vendors and industry experts to discuss key issues affecting the industry and how best to tackle them.

In all areas of cruising, technology can potentially resolve issues and improve service. Here are a few key areas identified, some of which will be discussed at the upcoming Cruise Lines International Association Executive Partner Summit in Miami, November 28-29, 2018.

1. Cyber and data compliance

Cyber Security is a hot topic at the moment, particularly with the introduction in Europe of the General Data Protection Regulation. Hardware and software vendors have invested heavily to ensure that they meet the requirements. Technology has improved to make access to a company’s data via hardware and software much more difficult.

To complement the improved technology around security, cruise lines also need to build awareness within their organization on cyber security best practice. This comes in the form of developing policies and processes and providing ongoing training so that all employees know how to keep data secure. 

2. Personalization and enhancing customer experience

In every aspect of life, customers are expecting more personalized experiences. Technology such as the internet of things and artificial intelligence are being developed utilizing data to enrich experience and service delivery. Developing type of technology will allow cruise lines to really differentiate themselves from others.

Personalized data-driven technology will not only improve the passenger experience but also help with other issues such as health and safety, dietary requirements, embarkation and debarkation, information distribution, on the fly excursion planning, excursion and activity marketing, onboard social media and event management.

Technology can be layered on top of real-life experiences to enrich the involvement of the passenger. The crew can become more responsive, even pre-empting a passenger’s request.  

3. Communication pre and post cruise

An issue every cruise company faces is capturing the whole of the passenger journey, not just while on the cruise: building excitement and upselling opportunities prior to the cruise, and engendering enthusiasm for the “next cruise” after. Data mining and analysis tools are giving companies much greater insights into how their customer behaves. Customer data platforms allow a single source to store and analyse data.

4. The integration problem

Personalization across the entire customer journey requires more systems to share information which means more integrations. Historically, many systems were standalone with very little integration with each other. This meant that data was either manually transferred from one system to another or significant amounts of time and money were spent developing bespoke integrations.

Nowadays, many systems have simplified the way data is communicated from one to another. Using integration platforms can dramatically reduce the development overhead in building and maintaining system integrations.

5. Internet connectivity

As passenger demographics evolve, the expectation of internet connectivity will continue to rise. There are still a lot of challenges with internet connectivity, however many communication and satellite vendors are investing serious amounts of money to build advanced mid to low orbiting satellites. Watch this space, over the next three to five years the bandwidth and available options are set to explode.

6. More efficient operations

Building and maintaining a cruise ship is a substantial investment and getting things right first time can save a lot of time, energy and money. Digital twinning uses cloud technology to build an identical virtual ship.  All the onboard ship systems are implemented virtually first, then tested to ensure all systems integrate and work together. This can be implemented before the first steel is cut to save time and money in the yard.

Once implemented, as a cruise line looks at new systems or upgrades, each change can be installed into the ship’s digital twin first, to assess performance and compatibility with the existing systems.

Call to action

There are so many ways to invest in technology. However, any investment should always align with the company’s objectives not just implemented for technologies sake. This is why we always recommend that every cruise line develops a digital transformation roadmap driven by business goals.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.