During its third-quarter 2018 earnings conference call on Oct. 25, Richard Fain, CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, discussed in depth the company's investments in Excalibur – its digital transformation platform. Fain emphasized that the company is aggressively rolling out the platform for both guests and employees using a slide showing the planned launch schedule for just one aspect of Excalibur: the guest mobile app.
Currently, users of the mobile app benefit from features such as: accelerated check-in, the daily planner, onboard accounts, shore excursions as well as the ability to book various items such as shore excursions, specialty restaurants and other onboard activities.
Using the slide, the company highlighted three milestones that represent the way it will make the app available to guests: crawl, walk and run.
Crawl is the company's testing mode. According to Fain, "the app is up and running but we keep it very quiet so we can test it out with a small group of participants."
When the mobile app's functionality has reached an acceptable level, the company will allow anyone who wishes to do so to use the app. However, "we won't aggressively push it," Fain notes. "This is roughly equivalent to the beta stage of most apps. It gives us a chance to test it under real-life conditions but only with a limited group of users."
In this stage, the company wants as many guests as possible to engage with the app. It will be vigorously publicized and at this point it should be thoroughly vetted, with most guests not only using it but loving it, Fain added.
While the company has initially focused on easing the boarding and disembarking process, the mobile app will also offer functions or "bells and whistles" that guests have told the company they want such as: facial recognition, the ability to easily book your onboard activities before sailing, new chat capabilities, and an innovative digital stateroom key.
While Fain focused on the guest facing capabilities of the mobile app, he also mentioned that the company has been hard at work to add capabilities to the mobile app that will make its employees more efficient and effective.
Fain also explained how the company is able to scale this technology so quickly to its entire feat.
"Over the years, we have built and maintained our fleet to take maximum advantage of technology," he said. "As a result, we already have a lot of technology on the ships and that can be used to provide some of these capabilities. We need to add more, but this gives us a definite leg-up. Through this type of investment, we are not only expanding and improving the product offering but also attracting new segments to cruise. We find that using such technology to reduce the hassle factor behind traveling increases the demand for our products."
During the Q&A portion of the conference call, Jason Liberty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, described why the company is working so hard to rollout its mobile app as well as Excalibur as a whole.
"We think that the investments we're making in Excalibur to decrease friction within the guest experience and increase on-demand capabilities, which we think are table stakes in the guest experience and what the customers are looking for, will lead to better revenue and better guest satisfaction as well as a better employee experience for our crew," Liberty noted.