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WHAT'S THE BUZZ IN HOSPITALITY?

Cruise Industry Leverages Tech as Brand Differentiator

Jan 28,2019

Cruise companies are making investments in technology not only in their new vessels as would be expected, but also in their veteran fleets. Due to a growing environmental conscience the investments entail efficient energy use like hybrid engines that align with eco-friendly practices. And not surprisingly, they are also investing in guest-facing technologies to improve service and passenger satisfaction. These innovative investments are primarily driven by passengers’ increasing expectation when it comes to tech. They want to interact with it daily, especially onboard.

In the not too distant past, cruise lines differentiated themselves by building larger and more luxurious vessels. Nowadays, with new industry players and upgraded existing ships, there are numerous ways the industry is adding innovative tech that serve as distinguishing factors. With newcomers like Ritz-Carlton and Virgin entering the mix, competition to capture market share means launching fresh and exciting passenger services, and for more established brands—diversifying and growing their fleets. Even interior aesthetics are changing; transitioning from the gaudy décor with elaborate fixtures to a more modern, sleek and sophisticated design.

Although the overall trend for newcomers is smaller vessels with fewer rooms, these young brands are hoping to capture the attention of prospective passengers by other means. Namely by providing an alluring, even intimate experience with the same top-notch service one might find on a private yacht. Cruise lines like Virgin Voyages are breaking away from the traditional dining options, like buffets or scheduled dinners, and opting for more “boutique-style” alternatives. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection promises one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios in the industry for a more personalized guest experience.

New technology is helping rewrite the rules with hospitality solutions designed to enhance passenger interactions. Some examples include digitized drink delivery, which finds passengers wherever they are using geolocation assistance; facial recognition features requiring guests to submit their photos in advance to streamline the boarding process; and many ships are also updating their old door locks with mechanisms that allow for keyless entry via an app.

There’s growing competition in this rapidly growing industry. With this growth there is an assertive push for innovative, guest-centric technology. Adoption of such solutions is a win-win for guests who benefit from an enhanced experience, and for cruise lines who earn repeat passenger sailings and higher onboard spend.

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