Cruising Is Back: Here’s What the Industry Can Do to Prepare to Set Sail This Summer

Addressing obstacles such as employee shortages, a still evolving pandemic, and everchanging guest demands depends on the adoption of technology to improve profitability, manageability, and day-to-day operations.
Sunset on a cruise ship with guest enjoying the ocean view

Cruising is back in full effect and cruise-starved travelers around the world are looking to book their long-awaited family trips, make use of their vacation time, and celebrate their special occasions onboard.

The past two years have brought changing guest expectations and a much different global environment, and cruise operators need to anticipate the challenges and opportunities ahead. More than ever before, cruise lines need to strategize and refresh the on-board experience to retain cruise loyalists while welcoming new passengers.

Cruise line staff won’t be able to handle all these changes by themselves. Addressing obstacles such as employee shortages, a still evolving pandemic, and everchanging guest demands depends on the adoption of technology to improve profitability, manageability, and day-to-day operations.

Here we’ll explore some key areas of focus that will ensure the cruise industry is prepared to set sail.

Help Navigating Changing Guest Expectations

The expectations and demands of cruise-goers has drastically changed and shifted the industry. Today’s guests require faster, better, and safer service… and these expectations will continue to evolve.

As a result, cruise executives need to look to cruise ship technology that is flexible and adaptable enough to keep up with changing guest demands.

Likewise, guests are still concerned with health precautions, cleanliness, and public safety while aboard. This will continue to impact cruise lines in the short and long term. Passengers expect heightened cleanliness protocols to continue, as well as implementation of low-touch solutions and self-service capabilities, such as mobile check-in and contactless payment. These types of solutions are imperative to minimize crowds, mitigate long wait times, and lessen contact on board.

In addition, innovative technologies such as AI-driven chatbots, mobile keys, kiosks, and interactive apps will enable cruise lines to set themselves apart from competitors and win over guests.

Empowering Talent

Attracting and retaining top talent is also critical. As the industry has faced staff shortages and high turnover, it is more important than ever for cruise operators to focus on how to improve day-to-day operations for employees, while still delivering a best-in-class, personalized experience for guests. Training will be paramount, especially to efficiently onboard employees to use systems to their fullest. All cruise ship management systems and cruise software will need to be easy and manageable for staff to use. With flexible and adaptable systems, they can also be customized for role-based workflows, further helping employees be efficient and excel. The system also needs to be automated to lessen and simplify routine assignments on staff. This reduces mundane tasks and frees up staff to put their time and efforts toward their ultimate objective: caring from cruise-goers.

A technology solution that is easy to learn and can help increase productivity with automation will be incredibly important and helpful to cruise employees that are constantly multi-tasking while trying to provide an amazing experience for guests.

Personalization is Key

Leveraging guest preferences through data and loyalty history via customer relationship management (CRM) systems will also help cruise operators provide an incredible experience for guests both on and off the ship.

Having a single view of a customer’s data can power a more personalized experience for passengers, and help cruise staff meet continuously changing expectations. Modern systems can capture guest data from current and past passenger histories and provide the right insight to customize offers and entice guests with unique deals and offers. For example, cruise staff can have the insight to offer guests a complimentary dinner for their birthday or provide them with an exclusive incentive if they recommend the cruise line to co-workers, family, or friends. This level of personalization helps them to better engage with guests, and show them how valued they are as customers.

Ultimately, as passengers return to cruising, there will be challenges, but most importantly there will be opportunities for cruise operators to win over guests. This will require agility to deliver a refreshed guest experience to cover new expectations and demands. It also will require top-tier tech tools for staff that are automated and easy to use at every touchpoint, and designed to deliver service that empowers staff and wows guests. Finally, cruise operators will need to be able to capture and utilize guest data to truly personalize the cruising experience for each guest. By keeping each of these goals top of mind, and adopting the right technology to deliver on these objectives, cruise lines will successfully sail on this season.