The travel and hospitality industry is an interesting example of a semi-digitized industry. The primary interfaces that most people use to book travel and accommodation are now digital. We are nearly all comfortable with booking travel online or via an app. But after the booking has been made, it is not unusual for a travel experience to revert almost entirely to analog.
Let’s take a specific example – the cruise industry. Cruises have traditionally been seen as a luxury travel experience. And yet, the longer that the cruise industry resists digitization and remains analog, the more it begins to look like an old-school option and the less it feels like a premium experience. So, let’s break down the cruise customer experience and see how the appropriate use of digital technologies could vastly upgrade the experience.
Minimizing the queues
It can feel like you spend half of your time queuing on a cruise. Queuing to get on the ship, queuing in the restaurant, queuing to leave the ship, queueing to get back on. The embarkation process in particular can be a mind-numbing experience which kicks off your cruise with less of a bang and more of a bored whimper. The cruise industry is arguably behind the curve when it comes to embarkation. Sure, few people love the airport embarkation process, but it is still some way ahead of the cruise experience and you’re likely to spend less time standing in a queue which seems to be going nowhere fast. Upgraded digital check-ins could dramatically cut the time you spend lining up. Why not take the lessons from airlines and have boarding passes on smartphone apps and tablets for staff to expedite check in? And to minimize queuing when you’ve actually made it on board, why not have real-time queue monitoring in the buffet, so you can pick the best time to go to the restaurant?
When faced with a large ship with multiple levels, staircases, shops, eateries and facilities, it is incredibly easy to get lost. “Was it right at the top of the stairs, or left?” “Hang on, it isn’t even on this level, we’ll have to go back.” There may or may not be pocket-sized maps available to customers. But a far better solution would be to digitize it. A geo-located dynamic map on a cruise app would dramatically improve the experience for many. You could easily see where you are and where you need to go every time, without needing to go through the learning curve which could otherwise take days.
Booking excursions and experiences
Interesting excursions or fun activities can deliver some of the most lasting memories of your cruise. But getting to that point can be frustrating. The booking process often leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe you have walked from one end of the ship to the other to reach the person with a specific piece of paper, only to find that experience or trip is already fully booked. This is a long way off most people’s modern expectations of booking experiences. It would be far better to have full access to all the experiences from your cruise app. Why shouldn’t you be able to cruise all your options from the comfort of wherever you happen to be. And if something is fully booked, you’d know that instantly and move on. And if you want to book an experience, you do it then and there, and just get on with relaxing until then.
Taking control of spending
This one is more for the cruise operators, rather than the customers. The vast majority of operators have very little visibility of spending habits and preferences – they are flying blind. Having real-time views of where customers are spending their money and what they’re spending it on gives you the insight you need to improve revenues. With a connected digital system, you could, for example, see that the spa’s bookings and revenues are down. So maybe you need to offer a 20% discount to customers if they book in the next 24 hours? Whatever it is, without the real-time insight, you won’t have the information or tools to make smart decisions that could improve the financial success of the cruise.
Most of these potential upgrades to the cruise experience will dramatically improve the experience for customers. But just as importantly, all of these represent very marketable features and benefits to a cruise operator looking to differentiate and entice new customers. As much as we love cruises, we just know that they can be even better. If you are interested in finding out how we could help lift the customer experience for cruises and beyond, fill out the form below and take the next step, and let us show you how we can help you! You can also read more about our solution here.