Top Ten Considerations for Guest Experience
CSI & CSH Online: The Virtual Event for the Cruise Community reconnected the industry on 2nd September 2020. Bringing the cruise interiors and hospitality communities together for one live day, CSI & CSH Online featured conference sessions and live Q&A’s with some of the biggest names in the industry. We are providing a select number of these conference sessions to view for up to a month after the online event, meaning they can be watched at a suitable time, revisited, and studied in closer detail. One of these sessions is ‘Top Ten Considerations for Guest Experience’. The panel for this session consisted of Jon Ingleton, Executive Editor of Cruise & Ferry Review; George Scammell, Director, Interior Design & Operations at Holland America/Princess Cruises; Rupert Kein, Vice President of Food & Beverage Services, Seachefs, TUI Cruises; and Alexander Zeitz, Senior Manager of Customer Experience, Virgin Voyages.
Jon Ingleton began with the caveat that this was to be a COVID-free discussion. Realising that most listeners will have been overwhelmed with news and discussion on COVID-19, this would allow the conversation to focus solely on the guest experience. To get the full scope of the broad and in-depth discussion, make sure you watch the full session here.
Today we’ll be listing the Top Ten Considerations for Guest Experience on board. Do you agree with these? Get in touch to let us know your thoughts!
Top Ten Considerations for Guest Experience
1. The Full Journey
Alex Zeitz says that ‘Guest Experience’ incorporates the entire cruise process, from becoming an interested website visitor, through the boarding and onboard experience, to the fond farewell. Guest experience should be considered as the ecosystem a cruise line creates as a brand, with a sense of cohesion throughout.
2. The Six Senses
George Scammell says that the guest experience includes the six senses, and is a total experiential experience where the guest is ‘participating’. Accounting for each of the five senses is something that can be done across every element of ‘guest experience’; from visual design, to physical touch and taste, to the added ‘sixth sense’ of extrasensory perception, which is satisfied by a successful culmination of the previous five.
3. Explore for Trends
Rupert Kein believes that designers of the guest experience should ensure they are travelling the world and looking down all avenues to find trends. With an often international customer base, cruise lines need to be both worldly and exploratory in their search for trends.
4. Listen Carefully to Guests
The guest is key. Ensuring you are receiving and taking into account feedback from guests is essential to providing the optimal guest experience across platforms and on board.
Guests expect a consistency across fleets, ships, and platforms. George Scammell says that a strong set of brand guidelines aids in creating this consistency from project to project. Consistency also plays into Alex’s point about the full journey. Consistency across the full customer journey creates confidence in a brand from a guest’s perspective, in turn enhancing the guest experience.
6. Research informs guest experience decisions
Alex Zeitz detailed how design and operations decisions for the Virgin Voyages fleet were informed by research. Finding a gap in the market for a younger target audience with no children on board informed the decisions made when designing the guest experience for cuisine, entertainment spaces, and more. As Alex jokingly says, “no chicken fingers!”.
7. Know the Guest
George Scammell says that decade to decade, the needs and wants of the customer change. To keep on giving the customer what they want and need, and exceed these needs, cruise lines need to ask for customer feedback.
8. Form vs (multiple) Function(s)
Form follows function in design, but what about when a particular space is designed with multiple functions in mind? The panel discussed the merits and current popularity of flexible spaces, with Alex giving examples of how flexible venues onboard Scarlet Lady allow entertainment teams to be more creative. The aim is to create experiences that don’t depend on particular spaces and to allow for flexibility in spaces, says Alex. On a space-spare cruise ship, designers are forced to create better-functioning areas, in turn improving the guest experience.
9. Create Intuitive Experiences
Something as simple as effective wayfinding can drastically improve the guest experience on a cruise ship. Creating an onboard experience that is intuitive can include, as well as wayfinding: easy-to-understand help points, crew uniform that immediately tells the guest who they are, and easy points of access for toilets and other care facilities. On a cruise ship, this needs to be considered in a vertical as well as horizontal manner, says George Scammell.
10. Respond to Guest Expectations
With customers expecting more from companies and brands when it comes to eco-consciousness, cruise lines need to adapt to ensure they are fulfilling the expectation of guests. When it comes to sustainability, this needs to be more than a ‘greenwashed’ effort – a dedication to providing a cleaner future is required to be at the core of a brand’s ethos. After all, the future quality of travel destinations has a direct impact on the quality of cruising, in turn impacting the experience (and return rate) of the guest.
Watch the full conference session here!