Maximizing Wave Season: Are you delivering the best experience to convert passengers to loyal cruisers?

amit mauryaResources, Travel

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With the Wave season now over, characterized by its rush of last-minute bookings, generous onboard credits, and exclusive deals, executives in the cruising industry can at last exhale a sigh of relief.  However, amidst the surge of record capacity and the introduction of over a dozen new ships, the competitive landscape has become more challenging than ever before. What was once a strategic revenue period created to counter the traditionally slow post-holiday season, Wave season now stands as a defining moment for the cruise industry. It is a time when the effectiveness of passenger service is put to the ultimate test. The overall experience plays a pivotal role in shaping your reputation and captivating both casual and first-time passengers, ultimately transforming them into loyal cruisers. Have you seized this critical time to leave an indelible imprint on your passengers?
The Passenger Experience starts through Offline Channels

The passenger experience is crucial in the cruising industry. It greatly affects customer satisfaction and whether they will cruise again. Surprisingly, 76% of cruise sales still happen offline. This shows how important traditional customer service is, like travel agents and onboard experiences. Travel agents are like ambassadors for the cruise brand. Their knowledge and advice shape expectations before passengers even board the ship.

For cruise operators, this means they need to provide exceptional training and support for offline channels. These personal interactions have a big impact on passengers' perceptions and expectations. From booking to goodbye, each encounter is a chance to build loyalty and encourage future bookings. Cruise companies need to ensure their online and offline sales are consistent and unforgettable experiences that exceed passenger expectations.

Onboard Experience: The Crucial Factor in Cultivating Loyalty

The true magic of a cruise happens onboard, where passengers can be mesmerized or left underwhelmed. That's why forward-thinking cruise operators prioritize the onboard experience to turn passengers into loyal cruisers. Great dining, amazing entertainment, and excellent service that exceeds expectations are all signs of a cruise line committed to delighting its passengers. But more important than the glitz and glamour is the ability to quickly solve issues, as a poor problem resolution can ruin even the best experiences.

To improve the performance of onboard staff, operators can partner with specialized hospitality service providers. These professionals offer seamless support, ensuring that every crew member embodies the brand promise. Through regular training programs, dedicated crew support, and streamlined operational processes, these partners can equip operators with a hidden army of personnel who have the necessary service skills to exceed passenger expectations.

Advancements in technology have also allowed for robust offsite support on cruise ships. Guests can now enjoy accessible and efficient service management through shipboard phones or cruise apps. These platforms, along with the help of hospitality support agents, serve dual purposes. They not only provide guests with the luxury and convenience they expect at sea but also act as a way to receive real-time feedback for prompt issue resolution. By leveraging the expertise of a CX partner, cruise lines can enhance the overall passenger experience and build a loyal customer base. This transition from satisfied guests to dedicated cruisers is facilitated by quick responsiveness and a commitment to excellence.

As competition increases, operators must rethink how they cater to the unique needs of their primary demographic: individuals aged 46 and older. Additionally, cruise vacations are becoming popular among Millennials and Gen Xers. In fact, 73% of those who haven't experienced a cruise are open to considering it. To navigate this landscape successfully, operators should collaborate with CX partners who have extensive data intelligence and AI capabilities. By understanding passenger insights, these partnerships can empower both onboard and offline crew members to deliver personalized interactions. Ultimately, providing an exceptional passenger experience becomes a crucial factor in achieving future cruise bookings goals.

Partner with the best to be the best

Don't settle for a partner with basic customer service. Here's what to look for:

  • Shared Culture and Values: Find a CX Partner that shares your values and culture to build a consistent cruising experience.
  • Passenger-First Mindset: The best CX Partner prioritizes customer needs and drives satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Tech-Savviness: A partner that uses AI, machine learning, and data analytics can deliver a personalized customer experience.
  • Scalability: Your partner should be able to scale up or down as needed.
  • Data Security: Ensure your partner has strong data protection measures.
  • Continuous Improvement: A good partner values continuous improvement and transparency in communications to serve customers better.
  • Frontline Empowerment: A great partner values their people and recognizes empowered agents deliver excellence to passengers and crew. Fostering diversity and inclusivity enhances service quality.

Evaluating your partner or considering outsourcing? Choose IGT Solutions. With 20+ years of travel expertise, we offer exceptional cruising experiences powered by cutting-edge technology. Our CeX 3.A framework combines Smart Agents, Smart Automation, and Smart Analytics for innovative experiences that delight passengers and optimize costs. Let IGT Solutions evaluate your Wave season results and vendor performance to provide customized recommendations to elevate your cruiser experience. Don't settle. Exceed your cruiser expectations with IGT Solutions. Contact us today for a consultation and make the extraordinary happen!

Kevin Shaughnessy
Vice President, Americas
IGT Solutions

With over two decades of experience, Kevin is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Customer Success, driving excellence in customer relationships and revenue generation. He is instrumental in enhancing businesses' operational efficiency and technology adoption, spanning diverse sectors, from Fortune 500 giants to startups and mid-market enterprises.