Royal Caribbean is currently taking steps to improve the mobile experience for customers. However, Vice President of Digital Marketing Jeffrey DeKorte explains that this doesn’t end when customers board the ship; connectivity is important to passengers aboard the company’s ships as well.
The digital experience is very important for Royal Caribbean, as customers often begin planning their trips several months in advance—making it crucial for the company to make information available about the onboard experience, shore excursions, entertainment, etc. To create a better experience for customers, the company provides a great deal of social engagement thorough Facebook and employs customized email content based on the customer’s ship of choice and their tier in the loyalty program. The main objective now is to migrate that experience into mobile platforms.
“Our website is the predominant driver for our direct traffic through our digital channels, and we are seeing the growth of mobile as an extension of that,” DeKorte says. “The mobile strategy is starting to evolve as both a means of accessing our web content and improving the vacation experience for guests while they are onboard our ships.”
Royal Caribbean’s content is supported by the iOS and Android mobile platforms, and DeKorte says mobile is viewed as a strategic component of the experience for customers. Whether someone is planning the various aspects of their vacation or researching prior to booking their trip, mobile can facilitate the story arc of the customer experience. However, keeping customers connected once they are onboard is also a major area of focus.
“Bandwidth onboard the ship and roaming charges for customers in international ports are among the biggest challenges the industry faces right now,” he says. “Customers want to be connected 24/7, and it is difficult for a mobile signal to penetrate our ships, which are constructed from steel. Our industry is built on moving people around the world, so mobile is critical for us.”
The company has developed apps that allow users to shop for a specific cruise experience up to the point of purchase. While DeKorte believes e-commerce is in the company’s future, they are still working to determine the best way to implement this, as cruises are very considered and planned purchases; especially for those who may be new to cruising, it’s important for them to be able to speak with someone about the process and what to expect.
Royal Caribbean is also taking additional initiative to separate itself from the competition by providing exclusive onboard mobile experiences for customers that are not yet available through other cruise lines.
“We are the first cruise line to deploy iPads on our shops as a method of viewing cruise itineraries, features available on the ship, entertainment, shore excursions, and ordering room service,” he says. “We are currently in beta testing, but this is definitely an exciting development for us.”
DeKorte says budgets and ensuring the effectiveness of marketing investments present the biggest challenges with regard to mobile. However, the company gauges the success of these measures based on the revenue they draw, in addition to looking at key data points like delivery, open rates, click responses, engagement, etc.
“We’ve used both internal teams and outside vendors to develop our mobile strategy, and we subscribe to many of the major consulting groups to evaluate our programs,” he says. “We plan to use the insights we gather to keep up with the pace of customer demand and ensure that the mobile experience meets consumers’ needs.”