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John Padgett, Chief Experience and Innovation Officer, Carnival Corporation
Advancements in technology including the Internet of Things has led to broad speculation about innovation’s long-term impact on the workforce.
In fact a 2017 study by global consultancy McKinsey predicted robots could replace nearly a third of the U.S. workforce by 2030.
And while a large number of companies are leveraging technology to create workforce efficiencies, not all innovation is focused around replacing human interaction.
At Carnival Corporation, the entire focus of our new experience Internet of ThingsTM (xIoTTM) actually does quite the opposite—it revolves around perfecting the guest experience by enhancing guest-crew interactions on board our ships.
A cruise ship is an ideal system for IoT in that its ecosystem is completely contained and singularly controlled—it generates its own electricity; controls its own commerce system; has its own telecommunications and navigation networks; runs its own retail, entertainment, recreation and dining operations; operates casinos; and houses thousands of people at a time (more in fact than some small cities).
With a portfolio of nine cruise line brands in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia operating 103 ships that visit over 700 ports around the globe, and more than 100,000 employees, Carnival Corporation is the largest leisure travel company in the world and the best positioned to leverage its scale to bring life to and create leverage around experiential IoT.
In 2017, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald revealed the OceanMedallionTM wearable device on the keynote stage at CES, as a way to bring his passion for exceeding guest expectations and leveraging enterprise scale to life.
The goal became to give guests what they most desire from their vacations— stress-free time filled with the things they enjoy most. To achieve this elevated experience, we’ve created the first Experiential IoT—or xIoT™.
This first-of-its-kind “Experience Platform” leverages the revolutionary OceanMedallion wearable device -- embedded with NFC, BLE in combination with thousands of other telemetry-producing sensors in context of a Smart Ship staging all aspects of the experience on a singular multi-sensor experience ecosystem. But the underlying strategy from the beginning was to use innovation to empower the crew and improve their interactions and relationships with our guests.
Today there are two “MedallionClass” ships from Carnival Corporation’s Princess Cruise brand.
The cruise industry is uniquely positioned to capitalize on IoT. It is an exhilarating and challenging initiative with tremendous promise for reinventing the guest and crew experience
On board these smart ships, guest experience and a “humanized” IoT is an order of magnitude beyond we’ve seen before as consumers.
MedallionClass ships offer a highly personalized level of service not previously considered possible at scale—including food and beverage on demand, anytime/anywhere interactive gaming, sophisticated way finding and keyless stateroom entry.
The connected ecosystem focuses uniquely on each guest as an individual, maximizes their time and delivers experiences that are more personalized because of specifically-designed tools that allow crew members to easily identify guests and display information such as guest name, picture, interests, etc. in order to enable a more tailored experience to each individual.
At the heart of these enhanced vacations is the OceanMedallion—a quarter-sized, 1.8-ounce non-wearable wearable that facilitates enhanced guest experiences. It has no discernible technology—no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate. The wearable is provided for free to all passengers on MedallionClass ships ensuring everyone has a no additional cost with no technology requirements to participate in a connected experience.
“Connection” is key. When a guest's Medallion connects the Experience Ecosystem, many of their desires and needs can be anticipated.
The OceanMedallion persistently connects guests with intelligent environments making the guest experience more personal, more customized and simplified.
The technology is the enabler, but in the hospitality business everything is ultimately about people and interactions. And we’re confident of its potential because it’s focused on the human dynamic—how our crew interacts with guests, how guests interact with each other and how every experience takes place.
The Medallion connects with a network of sensors and edge devices across the ship that make up our experience ecosystem— allowing us to maximize guest experiences by aligning the products, services and experiences that are most relevant with each guest’s preferences based on their location.
Our xIoT platform delivers game-changing personalization that enables crew members to anticipate the needs, wants and desires of each guest and curates their unique likes and preferences to maximize their experience.
In the center of the xIoT is the interaction layer, where guests with Medallions and the crew interact with each other simply and seamlessly. As a result, the crew can provide personalized service no matter where you are, no matter if they’ve ever met you before or not.
The ultimate goal of IoT is to connect people and objects within an ecosystem to make our lives better. xIoT does this by combing the best of both the physical and digital worlds, all while keeping guests in the moment of a well-deserved vacation versus distracted by technology nuance.
Vacations are the ideal space to optimize our time—our scarcest resource. And now with the OceanMedallion we’re able to take the service delivery burden off the crew so they can do what they do best—and that’s servicing our guests and making them happy.
Others companies within the travel industry most definitely are taking notice, and that’s great for those who work in the travel industry. However, the MedallionClass experience is created to lead the broader “experience” industry where every sector is competing for the most valuable consumer commodity—time well spent.
The cruise industry is uniquely positioned to capitalize on IoT. It is an exhilarating and challenging initiative with tremendous promise for reinventing the guest and crew experience. And based on the guest receptivity and remarkable response from inside and outside the industry, it clearly is the future of guest service enablement.