Three Steps to Help the Cruise Industry Prepare to Set Sail Again
Our new reality has no doubt been a difficult voyage. While challenging, this time offers the cruise industry a chance to rethink and reinvent the entire cruising experience. In due time, guests around the world will be looking to rebook their family vacations, make use of their paid time off and celebrate special occasions that were missed during the current health situation. So, what can cruise lines do now to help boost business and get customers excited to sail again?
Below are three areas the cruise industry can focus on now to accelerate recovery efforts and ensure they’ll be ready to successfully set sail again.
Get Systems in Shipshape
Although sailing may be paused, cruise operators still want all their systems to run as efficiently and effectively as possible, so they’re primed for when they sail again. Now is a great time for cruise operators to enhance their systems by updating and upgrading, and cruise staff can utilize this time to evaluate systems to see if they are functioning at optimum levels.
While some modern systems may only need minor updates, others may be bigger undertakings. Navigating a sea of systems from the point of sale, processing and ship management systems to the dining, activity management and customer relationship systems can be overwhelming, costly and a major challenge. Just managing all these systems can be a job in itself, so now may be the perfect time for cruise operators to consider centralizing these systems. Transitioning everything to a single solution or single integration can streamline the communication between systems and provide a seamless experience for cruise staff. Cruise lines can work with a third-party company that specializes in integration to centralize access to multiple systems connected via open APIs.
The Answer is in the Data
Leveraging past guest data and loyalty history via customer relationship management (CRM) systems can be the key factor to winning over guests during this time.
Past guest data and loyalty history can provide the right insight to customize offers and entice past passengers with special incentives and deals. Informed by past passengers’ histories, cruise lines can check in on top customers and offer them a complimentary meal or service if they book again or provide them with an exclusive offer if they recommend the cruise line to family and friends. Providing this type of personalization shows concern and care for guests and makes them feel valued, even when they’re not on board.
Reimagine the New Guest Experience
Guest expectations have drastically changed and shifted the industry. Today’s guests are concerned with health precautions, cleanliness and public safety - and that won’t let up anytime soon.
According to Oracle Hospitality’s comprehensive study on travel, sixty percent of travelers said that the increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting would be the most important property change to make them feel comfortable. And guests will fully expect their concerns and needs to be met when they next set sail.
In result, contactless solutions and low-touch strategies will be at the epicenter of the “new” customer experience. Emerging and innovative technologies like contactless payments and check-in, AI-driven chatbots, kiosks and mobile keys and apps will be vital for cruises during the “new next,” and may be the key to winning over guests for the long haul.
As we look ahead to smoother sailing, it is imperative that cruise operators make the most of the current pause and use this time to upgrade, optimize and exceed guests’ changed expectations as they reset. After all, guests deserve it.
About Ingo Soerensen: Born in Hamburg, Germany, Ingo started his career, working in Rooms division in 5* Hotels in Germany and in the US. In his 20 years in the Cruise industry he held various positions at Oracle Hospitality Cruise, formerly known as Fidelio Cruise Software. With a strong background in Operations and IT, he is now leading the global Sales department at Oracle Hospitality Cruise as Area Vice President. Oracle is providing Point-of Sale, Property- and Fleet Management Software to the Cruise Industry.