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Implementing “smart city” projects such as its guest experience platform and OceanMedallion wearable onboard Princess Cruises ships is not for the faint of heart, said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corporation, during WiT Experience Week Hybrid Day 4.

During a 10- to 12-day drydock, ships are outfitted with: 72 miles of cable, 4,000 sensors, 650 readers, 500 edge computing devices and more than 4,000 interactive portals, he said. That’s the easiest part though.

“While everyone loves to talk tech, the biggest part of any digital transformation is human transformation that has to go along with. It’s harder because it involves people. I like to call it change leadership, and it affects all aspects of your training and service delivery. Those are very, very important and require just as much, if not more focus than the innovation.”

In his interview with David Peller, managing director, travel and hospitality, Amazon Web Services (AWS), who was on stage at Marina Bay Sands Hybrid Broadcasting Studio, Padgett, who has spent the last 15 years with Carnival, spoke about why the cruise company first came up with the idea of a “smart city” onboard a ship.

OCEAN Platform uses IoT, removes friction, increases personalisation

“Vacations are the ideal space to optimize our time – our scarcest resource. Every minute you wait in a line or are otherwise inconvenienced is a minute you can’t enjoy elsewhere. Given that many of us spend months planning for vacations – we want the best experience imaginable while we’re off the clock.”

The OCEAN Platform, using IoT, removes friction from the experience and increases personalization, including TrulyTouchless payment, dynamic wayfinding, shipmate locator and personalized itineraries; it speeds up embarkation; facilitates on-demand service; powers anywhere wagering – even keyless access to your stateroom.

It’s enabled by the OceanMedallion, a wearable device which communicates with its xIoT network – thousands of sensors (more than 7,000) that recognize guests as they engage in experiential environments including ship venues, cruise terminals, motor coaches, trains, airports and select ports of call, and provides crew members with information about each guest.

“A ship is the ideal stage for IoT. Onboard our cruise ships you’ll find lodging, food and beverage, entertainment, recreation, gaming, navigation, banking, transportation, telecommunications which means the entire guest experience is uniquely within our control and our ability to connect these elements together.

“Think about a ship as just a couple of hundred thousand ton mobile device that can stage unlimited experiences in every dimension. Our Ocean network wraps the ship with a digital platform to enable any and all experiences in a ubiquitous way to the guest. This eliminates experience engagement challenges, eliminates friction and maximizes engagement.”

He said adoption rate was 99.7 percent with guest feedback, net promoter scores and “intent to return at incredibly high levels.”

The merits of wearable vs mobile

As for why it opted for a wearable vs a mobile device, he said, “Because the universe of mobile devices presents a spider’s web of bad connections, competing protocols, crazy interfaces, and hardware and operating system variations, there’s absolutely no way you can provide a ubiquitous experience to all guests using a mobile device strategy.

“The Medallion wearable, on the other hand, is personalized to the guest. You don’t have to charge it or configure it. There aren’t any settings and no on/off button.

“It can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to provide enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action.

“In addition, the Medallion is waterproof, sunproof, sandproof – which are pretty critical elements in the hospitality industry, not to mention that there are still some people refuse to use their device on holiday.”

Platform takes on even more significance during coronavirus

As it gathers data, the OCEAN platform, which creates 100 million intelligence events a day, “is always learning and getting smarter, and we’re only scratching the surface on its potential. The secret is ensuring that the intelligence benefits the guest – and that’s the whole purpose of the Ocean platform. Guests are not static profiles in a CRM database, so we want to make sure our intelligence is real-time, which is key.”

Using AWS to enable this capability, he said, “We’re creating an entirely new level of intelligence that is continuously being reinvested directly back into that specific guest’s experience.

“Instead of providing suggestions or information based on your previous recommendations or what people like you tend to do, the Medallion adapts and evolves to inform you about nearby entertainment opportunities and show times. Its output changes based on your actual actions, rather than your pre-specified preferences. We call this the Guest Genome, and it evolves three to ten times per second. Instead of data-mining your historical preferences, the Guest Genome provides a real-time feedback loop that adjusts to your current situation and preferences.”

He said that the OCEAN Platform has taken on even more significance in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic. “What used to be conveniences – like the expedited arrival, touchless payment, contactless embarkation and disembarkation, even having the Medallion unlock their stateroom door – take on even more significance in 2020.”

In addition, the Medallion technology has allowed it to: Tap historical guest intelligence to understand guest patterns and flows throughout ships; improve guest flows to promote and support physical distancing, optimize venue utilization and make other meaningful operational changes that will help mitigate risk by truly optimizing social distancing and reduce contact

Technology must turbo charge personal connections, not replace them

How should other businesses pursue such a strategy? His advice: “You have to have a clear vision. And while it will probably seem a bit incongruent, for us, innovation has never been the goal. Innovation has simply been a tool to deliver on strategy.

“Technology is normally presumed to replace people and face-to-face connections. But the Medallion does something different. Instead of replacing personal connections between passengers and crew, the technology is being used to turbo charge those connections. Our goal is for technology to disappear from the entire equation and empower next level human interactions.

“Once you identify what your guests want, think about how technology can help you deliver it to them. In many cases these innovations are cutting-edge and may involve skills your company may not have. If your existing skillset is not up to standard, consider tapping into a wider ecosystem.”

Covid-19 will force enterprises to innovate in magnitude

Padgett is realistic though about the challenges of corporations adopting similar “smart city” projects, but believes the pandemic will remove those blockages.

“Changing enterprises is hard. It takes time because innovation of that magnitude requires commitment and resources. When you don’t have to change, human nature is to keep the status quo. But when you have to fight for your survival, change accelerates.

“And so you’re likely to see significant change and innovation in the years ahead due to the pandemic.

“But actually, the concept of a digital clone is not foreign to us. The matrix is real. It exists. No longer is it a concept of the future. We’ve achieved it.

“When our guests are connected to us, they understand that we’re creating intelligence, and they’re happy to share their data because they realize we’re using it in real time to make their guest experience great.”

Initially there were pundits who said that guests would not be willing to share their data.

“But guests are seeing first-hand how sharing insights about their likes, wants and preferences, both stated and gleaned based on their location, can improve their experience and maximize their vacation time.

“The opportunities afforded through troves of guest data that we can re-invest in real time is priceless. Over the long-term, we’ll be able to better anticipate and address guest challenges, as well as continuously improve the guest experience.

“Some organizations might totally dismiss the concept of leveraging a connected guest experience platform like OCEAN, but when you break it down, for the per guest cost of a cheeseburger, organizations could dynamically transform their operation and create a truly differentiated experience that guests may soon actually come to expect.”

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Quelle/Source: Web in Travel, 13.10.2020

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