A new report by Deloitte presents research - based on a 2017 survey of around 1000 cruise passengers from various US regions and age groups - indicating that the future of cruise lines depends on how well they accommodate the latest changes in demographics and demands of cruise passengers.
Some key trends:
- Millennials, especially, want more personalization and customization.
- Asian cruise market grew by 34%/year from 2012 to 2014.
- Passengers expect 24/7 digital enhancements before, during and after cruises.
- Expectations of cruise lines include providing a seamless experience across ground transport, port hotels, excursions.
- Basic demands now include fitness facilities, comfortable community spaces, LEED certification, high-quality bars and restaurants.
Satisfaction with traditional cruise basics: 75% of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the value provided by their cruise, the cleanliness of their room, and the convenience of the location of the port.
However, survey respondents expressed less satisfaction with the "new" basics, as defined by Deloitte's Passenger-First Framework: 5 elements that contribute to a differentiated customer experience (with satisfaction ratings from the survey):
- Engage me - personalized, authentic, attentive - 70%
- Hear me - listen to needs, empathize, follow through - 63%
- Empower me - empower me to drive my experience as I want - 74%
- Delight me - surprise, exceed expectations - 66%
- Know me - remember preferences and needs - 67%
For the cruise industry - in contrast to hotels and restaurants - "empower me" and "delight me" exert a disproportionate influence, leading to repeat voyages and brand ambassadorship.
Ways cruise lines can increase empowerment of passengers - critical for Millennials - include Increased use of digital for personalization and customization, e.g., quiz customers on preferences via mobile app.
Re "delight" - most highly valued by Millennials and GenX: 28% of passengers surveyed said they were dissatisfied with onboard experiences and activities, and 33% said they were dissatisfied with the way cruise lines help them learn about the locations they visit. There are opportunities for enhancing passenger delight by working with local partners, and enhancing integration with airlines, ridesharing services and onshore activities.
Success in "know me" hinges largely on staff interactions with passengers, and the cruise line's passenger information system. Here's Deloitte's suggested scenario:
"When a passenger uses a mobile app to check in, the crew has immediate access to the passenger’s profile data and preferences, allowing employees to “push” local experiences to the passenger using the app, which might lead to the passenger signing up for a local cooking class at the next port. From data to cooking classes to a satisfied customer, all in a way that is more personalized than traditional onboard programming could ever have achieved. The cruise operator’s mastery of the supporting data, analytics, and digital capabilities can help make that a reality."
However: as a final footnote to its analysis, Deloitte cautions that "Operators should beware of shiny "next big things" and proceed deliberately".
Good report containing some useful information. But I think in their enthusiasm for digital solutions, the authors have passed too quickly over the issue of "staff interactions."
Other researchers (e.g., Jayawardhena and Farrell, 2011) have consistently found that customer orientation behaviors of service staff are positively related to
- perceived service encounter and service quality
- customer satisfaction
- perceived value
- customers' expressed behavioral intentions (like: "I would cruise with this line again")
So in the rush to get digitally enhanced, don't neglect intelligent service-employee selection and ongoing training.