Is cruise line retail ready for Omnichannel?

Today’s consumers’ expectations are getting higher and higher. Whether they are shopping for watches, bags, clothing or booking a cruise, they expect to find immediate satisfaction of their wants from retailers, no matter if online or offline. 

Online research generated more than 390 million visits to cruise lines websites in 2017. In 2016 the estimated number of cruise passengers in the US was about 11.5 million.

As we can see from the stats below, the cruise lines are already investing in digital as a strategic and essential source of leads for their business.

In a recent interview, just after the ICXSUMMIT, John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival Cruises, stated that “The higher personalization, the less friction, and the experience is maximized. This is consumers vacation time, so it’s critical to focus on that and increase the value for guests and customers. We’re selling happiness, people, places and culture.”

Carnival released the OceanMedallion, a quarter size wearable that, together with a related app, Customers receive prior to travel departure so they can start experiencing their vacation even before it takes place. The goal is to increase the level of personalization and reduce friction, the two key factors to maximize their Customers Experience.

This innovation is mostly related to the vacation/entertainment aspect of the cruise, but what about the retail business which is a great component of cruise lines sales performance?

What do Customers want?


Let’s start with Google data: “Price, destination, entertainment, and dining are the leading considerations when people are choosing a cruise line”. Retail is clearly one of the relevant aspects of entertainment. Stores can be a great source of entertainment before, during and after the cruise.

What do Customers expect?

A team working for their satisfaction.

This leads me to the second point, the crucial challenge. Omnichannel is a three partners effort delivered in three specific moments: the cruise line (before), the retailer (during), the brand (after).

  1. The cruise line efforts should be focused on the “prior to travel” experience, creating expectations, anticipating events and personalized moments, nurturing the customer relationship.
  2. The retailer will make sure to live up to the expectations by delivering an unparalleled customer experience through unique and personalized micro-moments, even when the relationship does not lead to a direct sale.
  3. The brand should maintain the relationship with Customers after the Cruise, considering their experience during the cruise vacation as one of their channels, and part of their omnichannel strategy. At the same time, great shopping experience on the cruise is a unique micro-moment that will bond the brand to the relaxing and positive memories of the vacation. An amazing opportunity that brands should recognize and take advantage of.
  4. This joined effort of generating an unparalleled Customer Experience is going to be the crucial challenge since according to recent research from Robert Half, 26% of creative professionals say that a lack of cross-departmental collaboration is the biggest barrier to executing digital initiatives.

What do Customers consider value?

The Relationship.

And this prompts me to talk about the last point.

Technologic innovation becomes crucial but that does not mean that all store should create their own wearable or that is the only way to satisfy your customers’ expectations. It is true that consumers find great value in services that intuitively learn about their needs over time to customize product, service or content recommendations.

At the same time, companies and marketers spend much more time on analyzing data rather than speaking to customers and listening to their needs and wants. The real value is always in the relationship, the cornerstone of a great Customer Experience.

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