Improving cruise line revenues, efficiency and guest experiences through modern point of sale technology
With sailing beginning to pick up in many parts of the world, people are increasingly flocking to cruise lines for a much-needed vacation. Typically, people choose a cruise holiday because they want an immersive experience that will completely unplug them from their day-to-day lives. To meet these customer expectations, cruise lines scrutinize every detail to ensure premium guest experiences.
Point of Sale (PoS) technology is an area that still warrants a revamp for many cruise lines. As guests visit bars, restaurants, shops, or other onboard amenities, PoS systems are critical enablers of a smooth guest experience and play a key role in servicing and upselling. The right technology can increase food and beverage sales in cruise lines by 5 to 10 percent.
Once modest PoS systems now need to live up to modern online consumer experiences. As cruise lines explore different alternatives, it´s important to remember that new criteria must be considered in the quest to replace legacy systems. Some of the key considerations cruise lines should bear in mind as they decide which PoS technology to deploy include:
- Crew mobility
- Self-service capabilities
- Personalized experiences
- Integrated dining and galley operations
- Headquarter versions
The mobile PoS system comes into play as soon as a guest steps into a restaurant or a bar. Without having to step away, the crew can let guests know whether or not a table is available, possible wait times, and table location. With mobile PoS devices, waiters can place orders which the galley instantly receives, expediting the entire process and allowing orders to be processed and customers served more quickly.
Cruise line guests are increasingly tech-savvy and continuously seek flexibility in how they purchase and consume services. With restricted dining capacity in restaurants, cruise lines are also encouraging guests to place orders and dine from the comfort of their rooms. PoS systems should facilitate self-service ordering options, whether through Interactive TVs (iTV) or guest mobile Apps. These should also allow guests to preorder meals for a set delivery time. For in-restaurant dining, table-top self-ordering technology exists, reducing service dependency on waiters.
Guest recognition and offer personalization are key aspects of a modern PoS system, which can warn guests about known allergies to specific ingredients and allow waiters to view order history to recommend new or repeat dishes. PoS systems can also issue personalized discounts and promotions. With fine dining being a key differentiator for cruise lines, PoS systems need to process increasingly sophisticated gastronomic packages and keep track of their popularity. When it comes to payments, technology must be in place to allow guests to settle either directly through a room charge or using loyalty rewards or onboard credits.
Integrated dining and galley operations
Seamless integration between the dining PoS and galley management software drives significant operational efficiency. The system should allow course-by-course firing to the galley and chefs to notify each dish´s readiness in real-time. A streamlined workflow also results in fewer service errors. Dining operations have become more complex as cruise lines offer more dining and reservation options across different restaurants, including traditional, specialty, and open dining. This information must be instantly available in the dining management system as hosts sit guests at their tables.
Though onboard connectivity is increasingly available, it is still expensive and unreliable as ships navigate remote seas. Robust onboard installations are required. As cruise lines seek lower operational costs, onboard systems need to act as digital twins to central headquarter systems. Allowing onboard systems to be set up and upgraded and business data to be exchanged while ships are docked generates significant efficiencies. It also allows sales data consolidation by headquarters in real-time and enables new artificial intelligence features to derive guest insights and proactively apply them.
Making the difference
As cruise lines strive to deliver frictionless guest experiences, the PoS system can make the difference between success and failure. Savvy and digitally-enabled consumers expect slick online shopping experiences to permeate every facet of their lives. Modern POS systems are crucial to enhancing guest experiences, upselling and cross-selling additional products or services, and generating operational efficiencies.
Asish Z Koshy is the Head of Travel & Cruise business at IBS. He is an accomplished & passionate leader with more than 20 years of experience in the travel industry and comes with significant experience in enabling business transformation through use of technology. He has conceptualized a number of game changing products for the travel industry that have been successfully adopted by major global brands. He enjoys travelling, reading non-fiction books and a game of badminton. Asish is a founding member of IBS.