Five ways cloud tech can help river cruise lines exploit rising demand
River cruises are currently a hot trend, experiencing unprecedented growth fueled by a growing number of vacationers preferring smaller ships with fewer people onboard. The flexibility to deboard more often is another highly valued characteristic.
However, river cruises contain complex itineraries with multiple ports, more destination or land-based programs and must cater to varied first- and last-mile needs of its niche clientele.
So, are river cruise lines leveraging the latest technology to reach a wider demographic and enticing river cruise enthusiasts and first-timers alike, with a differentiated travel experience?
Five ways modern technology can help river cruise lines gain an edge
Technology should be a business enabler. The right modern technology facilitates growth, streamlines business processes, and helps improve the passenger experience. Legacy systems on the other hand, drive competitive disadvantage and are costly and resource-intensive to maintain and integrate. Every company needs to identify when their technology stack is no longer a business enabler but rather a restraint to growth. Five ways a modern platform for end-to-end reservations and booking management can help river cruise lines delight their customers and keeps them coming back:
Facilitate shift to a Total Vacation Provider
Today, multiple systems are used to manage traveler needs, including online booking engines, GDSs for flights, and onshore tour provider platforms to name but a few. Operating off a legacy backbone makes these systems difficult to integrate, resulting in a fragmented customer view and experience. Time-consuming processes to manage and service bookings with manual intervention required across multiple systems only adds to inefficiency.
Now, imagine a single and intuitive travel management platform that fulfils end-to-end traveler needs including cruise, flights, hotels, transfers, and ancillary bookings. Add to that the ability to easily configure and sell all-inclusive packages and destination services. A single and fully integrated shore-to-ship solution takes the hassle out of trip planning and management to seamlessly deliver on demanding expectations of today´s travelers.
Increase operational agility
Customer-centricity is now a baseline expectation for consumers, with offer personalization increasing booking conversion and customer satisfaction. River cruise lines must acquire the capabilities to engage with travelers well in advance of the actual voyage. A 360-degree customer view is essential to understanding the unique preferences of high-value customers and proactively offering them bespoke promotions and packages. Customer data and an integrated loyalty platform helps make travel more rewarding for recurring passengers. Digital capabilities are key to enabling omnichannel earn and burn options for customers before, during, and after the cruise.
Expand content sourcing and distribution
With popularity on the rise, river cruise companies must appeal to a wider audience with a differentiated offering. Doing so requires the ability to offer an expanded product range that aggregates products from multiple travel providers. The ability to scale the distribution of dynamically packaged offers through travel retailers is important to reach a wider target audience and increase the addressable market.
Automate business processes
One of the most significant challenges for all cruise companies stems from the constant changes in government restrictions and regulations for both passengers and crew. Now more than ever, cruise lines require automated workflows for mundane functions like itinerary changes, bulk booking revisions, inventory movements, etc. An automated platform reduces manual effort and makes cruise lines more agile to changes, enabling faster responses to changing market and passenger contexts. Going forward, automation will be paramount for cruise lines to be nimble and respond to external factors faster, without causing inconvenience to both guests and staff.
New normal, new requirements
Even before the pandemic, cruise lines needed to upgrade their systems to meet the expectations of the times. Modern technology allows companies to be more efficient, proactive, and deliver on the consumer experiences travelers have become accustomed to in other industries. The pandemic was an eye opener for the operational inefficiencies across industries and a catalyst to accelerated digitalization. With river cruises now on the rise, modern technology will help providers capitalize more effectively on increased demand by delivering innovative and personalized guest experiences, driving untapped efficiencies, and better preparing for the future.
To find out how your cruise company could benefit from the latest reservations and booking management technology, check out iTravel Cruise – a modern, integrated, digital shore to ship platform built for a new era of cruising designed to engage guests at every stage of the trip.
Titus George V is Head of Sales & Business Development for the Tour & Cruise line of business at IBS Software. He has a track record of over 16 years in the technology industry working closely with cruise lines of varying sizes and business models to help with their overall digital transformation journey. He has deep expertise in migrating mission-critical systems of a cruise line like central reservation systems, shipboard property management, and point-of-sale and dining management systems from legacy systems to modern cloud-based platforms. Titus is actively involved in supporting cruise lines with their recovery strategies and setting up new technology-led foundations for the future of cruising.