Royal Caribbean: big data rules the seas
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Royal Caribbean: big data rules the seas

Successful companies are increasingly becoming data driven, using customer and industry insights to pursue competitive advantages and find new routes to innovation. The cruise line industry is no different. In a recent interview, market-leader Royal Caribbean’s chief information officer Martha Poulter took the time to describe how big data informs the company, as well as the unique challenges of collecting it while on the ocean.

Royal Caribbean’s share price has appreciated by 14% so far this year

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Source: Yahoo Finance

Giving a broad overview of how data impacts Royal Caribbean’s business, she said: “We often talk about the multi-generational vacation, which involves different experiences and personas. We have four brands in the Royal Caribbean umbrella: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruise, Azamara Club Cruises, and Silversea Cruises. We are cognizant of the distinct demographics of each brand, whether the product is a family vacation, a multi-generational vacation, or a couple-sailing-the-world experience. We alter those experiences, but we have commonalities, such as the guest-to-guest chat that is successful across brands. Removing friction through testing and learning is a big theme of what we do, which allows guests to customize and optimize their vacation as quickly as possible.”

But getting hold of this data isn’t always easy. She added that the “product” was at sea most of the time, and, as a result, is “not connected in a hard-line way to any digital capability.” The answer for Royal Caribbean was to use satellite connections for data collection.

This data is then pushed into all areas of Royal Caribbean’s business. An example from Poulter: “customer demographics and the weather both shape the food served on board, for example. External factors combined with knowledge of the historical patterns of particular itineraries are guiding indicators. Real-time dynamics, such as the flow of people into the dining room during a ten-minute interval or the popularity of a type of protein in a given year, are integrated with legacy-based information to enhance production schedules and food management practices.”

The company is also looking to optimise its waste disposal and energy use systems through data-driven solutions. As the company continues to work smarter, customers and shareholders both look set to profit from its insights.

Dominion holds Royal Caribbean in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.

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