Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) recently announced the cruise industry has adopted a strong set of health protocols to resume highly-controlled and phased in operations. This is the product of extensive work being carried out by the CLIA oceangoing cruise lines, with the guidance of
leading scientists, medical experts, and health authorities – a set of health protocols hoping to soon be accepted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With the restarting of cruise operations getting closer, cruise lines now have another challenge to contend with: the rebuilding of customer trust and confidence.
Although there remains a growing enthusiasm amongst many who wish to travel again, there is equally as much anxiety. Managing guest concerns effectively will therefore be key to a successful return to sailing. And with many organisations running with reduced human resources, efficiency will be imperative. Cruise lines that get this right have a greater chance of ensuring their rapid returners have a safe and enjoyable experience, and provide positive feedback, which in turn will help convince the more anxious. Manage this process badly and the reputational damage could become a cruise lines next pandemic.
In this article, we look at the five major and equally-important stages of the guest journey – from post-booking to embarkation, on-board, disembarkation, through to post-voyage. We’ll focus on the key guest concerns at each stage and simple solutions that can be easily adopted with an immersive communications journey.
Many customers have been waiting a long time to cruise. Some may have booked recently during the frustration of lockdown and the draw of new shores. Others may have booked many months prior to the COVID pandemic and had their cruise cancelled. What they all share in common is their desire to travel and the uncertainty of when.
With ships laid up for many months and many operations temporarily moth-balled, the effort involved in resuming cruising will be no easy task. The inspection and servicing of on-board systems, along with the transportation and training of crew. Not to mention the continual monitoring of destinations demanding a new, agile approach to itinerary planning for many cruise lines. All of this will add a huge amount of pressure on departments and teams that have been reduced in numbers to right-size for the next normal. Already aware of these enormous challenges, cruise lines cannot expect any reprieve from the mass media that thrives on drama – with whatever level of factfulness.
Using TravelComms to send soon-to-be guests regular email communications will keep them informed. Sharing transparency with your ready-to-sail preparations will help cut through the background noise and convert anxiety to confidence. And ensuring each communication is ultra-personalised to each recipient and relevant to their booking will help to keep guests close whilst they are at distance.
Will my booked cruise happen?
What will the experience be like?
What if my cruise is rescheduled?
Reiterate booking guarantees and terms.
Share recent and relevant guest feedback.
Provide factual and timely updates.
Like any port – whether it be air or sea – the embarkation process creates visions of crowds and numerous points of interaction. Passports, tickets, and security are essential checks needed for transit to and from most countries. On top of this, adding mandatory health screening both at the port and before arrival will add further complexity and increase the embarkation time. Then there is the matter of social distancing, and the extra time needed to deal with customers that may not be ready or allowed to board. All of this combined means that setting sail will require comprehensive capacity planning and consistent communication.
Drip-feeding important information to guests with TravelComms before embarkation will help to prepare and remove any scary surprises, for all involved. Capturing guest health information with customisable questionnaires can help manage health screening at any – and many – stage(s) of the booking journey and embarkation. Storing this information against each guest’s booking or customer record in the CRS or CRM system will provide a full audit trail for test and tracing. And the automated escalation will notify the relevant parties to take action on any concerning submissions.
The business case for digital passes replacing traditional paper ones has never been greater. While airlines have been using these for many years, cruise lines now following suit can reduce unnecessary human touchpoints during embarkation. Generating digital passes for each guest (or party) can be provided as part of a digital embarkation pack. The pack can also confirm embarkation times and procedures along with guests’ necessary documentation, to help ensure they arrive on time and are ready to board. The TravelComms digital embarkation packs will remove the stress from embarkation, so your guests arrive on-board happier and the experience is more enjoyable for everyone - guests and crew.
Will I need to be health screened?
What are the embarkation procedures?
What will be required for embarkation?
Complete pre-voyage health questionnaire.
Confirm embarkation times and process.
Provide electronic embarkation passes.
Once on-board, guests will have the benefit of crew and digital signage to remind them of their healthy sailing obligations and protocols. Likewise in their cabins, they will be reminded similarly by their welcome pack, signage, and via the in-cabin television. However, and particularly for repeat cruisers, breaking old habits could prove difficult for some.
Integrating with the ship PMS, TravelComms can deliver important guest confirmations, reminders and updates. This can be via email, SMS, Push notifications to mobile apps, or in-cabin entertainment systems, enabling you to use the most accessible and cost-effective channel for you and your guests. Whether it relates to restaurant bookings, spa appointments, or other on-board products and /or services, each guest can be proactively assisted to prevent crowding, maintain social distancing, and comply with the necessary protocols to keep everyone on-board safe - and your ship sailing.
What are the on-board protocols?
What are the excursion procedures?
What if there is an outbreak on board?
Confirm all latest on-board protocols.
Confirm all latest excursion protocols.
Provide rapid updates to protocol changes.
With disembarkation being the final stage of the guest’s voyage it comes with equal importance to embarkation. Having guests leave the ship happy and healthy will determine safe sailing success and be scrutinized by the departing guests, on-shore regulatory bodies, and the next guests to set sail.
Like the embarkation stage, TravelComms can issue the required digital passes and notify each guest (or party) of their disembarkation to manage the process in a controlled way. Guests will therefore be able to pack more leisurely and enjoy their final time on-board without unnecessary stress and worry.
Will I need to quarantine upon return?
What are the embarkation procedures?
What will be required for embarkation?
Confirm return quarantine requirements.
Confirm disembarkation times and process.
Provide electronic disembarkation passes.
Customer communication shouldn’t stop just because the guest’s voyage is over. While their journey may have ended, yours hasn’t. Gathering as much feedback as possible on how you kept them safe without detrimental impact to their overall experience will provide you with valuable information to share with your next guests. Comforting them will make it easier when they are on-board. And convincing the more concerned cruisers will keep bookings coming and your ships and business afloat.
Following up with a scheduled Welcome Home email, TravelComms can manage the entire feedback process. With an email linking to TravelComms-generated Customer Service Questionnaires (CSQ’s) that is personalised to each guest, you can send gentle reminders to help you to capture what’s needed to monitor your Net Promoter Score (NPS) without manual processing. And by intelligently reviewing the submissions, TravelComms can automatically store positive feedback for review and reuse whilst routing any negative comments to your Customer Services team to follow up and action.
Taking this full circle, with TravelComms managing the entire communications journey, you can then reuse the positive feedback stored within the platform to share in the Post-Booking communications it sends to the next guests.
How could the experience be improved?
Will my feedback be shared with others?
Will I book another cruise and where?
Capture guest experience feedback.
Gain approval to reuse guest feedback.
Convert next trip dreams to bookings.
Answering your cruise customers every concern with updated, accurate information doesn’t need to be complicated. To reinstate confidence and keep your guests safe with automated and fully personalised communications, Contact our team for a free demo customised for your cruise business.