25 - 26 June, 2019
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Here’s How Royal Caribbean is Using an App Driven by Artificial Intelligence to Personalise Their Luxury Cruises
Artificial intelligence-driven technology is becoming an ever-greater part of our lives. Now Royal Caribbean International is employing it to augment the luxury vacation experience for its clients.
Royal Caribbean International began life in 1968 when three Norwegian shipping companies decided to sail into the cruise ship industry. Over the years the company has grown inexorably and in 2016, the Florida-based company was granted a Guinness World Record for the “Highest Viewing Deck on a Cruise Ship.”
Today, Royal Caribbean International is one of the largest cruise companies in the world. The company has a market cap of $16.37 billion and holds the #277 spot on the S&P 500.
To stay at the top of an industry in which customers demand nothing but the very best in luxury, Royal Caribbean International must constantly innovate to make sure it’s able to offer first-class experiences. In 2018, that means fully embracing the digital transformation.
Over the next two years, Royal Caribbean International has committed to equipping its fleet of 48 ships with the very latest in high-tech gadgets. First among these innovations is an artificial intelligence-driven mobile app, designed to act as a digital assistant for the company’s guests. The app will be able to direct customers around the ship, and offer personalised recommendations on what to see and do during their stay on board.
"The whole idea is a pipeline of new products and services for guests that will be available through the app,” said Royal Caribbean International’s Senior Vice President of Digital, Jay Schneider. “Right now, it's just a simple content app available on two ships, and the reason for that is we wanted to make sure that with every new product we get into market, we disrupt the guests' and employees' experience as little as possible. I want to make sure that, even if we build a great app, that every aspect of the technology works flawlessly. So, we're being diligent, we're taking our time, and we're testing, adjusting, and scaling as we like to say.”
While some cruise ship companies have opted to make their digital assistants a bespoke piece of wearable tech, Royal Caribbean International has instead decided to create a device-agnostic assistant. While the app in its present form is limited in function, there is much more planned to incorporate a range of modern technology trends.
“Over the next two years, we will continue to add capabilities on a relatively frequent basis,” said Schneider. “The next set of capabilities will allow you to register in the app, check in via the app, upload your selfie to be able to use our facial recognition boarding, book shore excursions, dining, et cetera, and then we'll continue to add capabilities. We have x-ray vision [VR] and digital games built in.”
It Doesn’t End with the App
It certainly doesn’t. Another idea is to allow guests to customise their rooms by digitally changing the colours and designs of the floors, ceilings, and walls. Further expansion of this concept could allow AI programmes to alter the room to offer sympathetic colours and moods to match the customer’s activity or behaviour – changing to a nice cool, relaxing blue after the guest has returned from a hard workout at the gym, for example.
And, of course, all this innovation will be backed up and driven by big data. As the technology rolls out across the fleet and is used by more customers, the AI system will learn and improve, to offer truly first-class, digitally-driven experiences.
"We've always had staggering amounts of data, and the difficulty has been in making intelligent use of that data," said Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean International. "Using data analytics to help [passengers] select what's of greatest interest to them, helps us in understanding what their needs are. So, there's no question that data analytics is a key part of it.”
With AI-driven technology at the helm, Royal Caribbean International is ready to cruise through the coming years with the best possible chances of continuing to succeed in the luxury cruise market.
The final word goes to Royal Caribbean International’s CEO, Richard Fain. "I don't think it's a question of whether [technology] is required to stay competitive in the cruise industry. I think it's required to stay competitive in the world we live in. People simply expect that whatever they're doing – whether it is buying a cup of coffee or planning their vacation or hailing a taxi – they expect it to be simple and frictionless. And so, we just think this is a requirement that basically any business should have today."
Artificial intelligence and the digital transformation are set to be hot topics at Digital Travel EU 2018 this June at County Hall, London. Download the agenda today for more information and insights.