LAS VEGAS — Carnival isn’t the first company most people think of when it comes to high tech. But that might change – especially after Carnival CEO Arnold Donald took the stage Thursday, January 5th to kick off Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (CES) in Las Vegas Nevada.
CES takes place each January and is one of the largest conferences in the country: last year a total of 177,393 attendees came from all over the globe to witness the latest in technology, spread out across almost 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space. Carnival’s appearance there marked one of the few times in the event’s 50-year history that a company from outside the technology world got the top billing.
So what created all the fuss?
Carnival announced the launch of their wearable device called the Ocean Medallion. It’s about the size of a quarter and is designed to work on your wrist like a watch, around your neck as a pendant, or just slipped into a pocket or purse.
Mr. Donald called the platform OCEAN, which stands for “One Cruise Experience Access Network,” and said it will be “a real game changer… every decision will arise from the guest. It will redefine travel as we know it.”
The idea is that the Medallion stays with you and does what it does all day, every day, while you’re on the cruise. So what is it and what does it do, exactly? Here are a few details:
- The Medallion is waterproof and weighs 1.8 ounces.
- Passengers select likes, dislikes, etc. during online registration for the cruise. These selections are ‘remembered’ by Medallion software as it builds a vacation profile for the traveler.
- It’s mailed to each passenger before their cruise, engraved with their name.
- It’s not only the room key, it also works like a credit card to pay for drinks and meals.
- If a passenger moves around the ship after ordering one of those drinks, the waiter or waitress can easily find them to deliver it.
- It syncs to an interface accessible by smartphone, tablet, kiosks and portals at locations in ports, and TVs in staterooms.
The OCEAN Platform and Medallion use a combination of Bluetooth and NFC technology along with up to 7,000 sensors on-board, plus a cloud network and analytics software to continually gather and process an individual’s data.
Carnival will retain this data so that repeat customers can be served based on information gathered during previous trips. (And, naturally, so that Carnival can use the data for targeted advertising in the future.)
The goal of all this is to make passengers feel like their needs are not only being met, but anticipated.
“Who wouldn’t want to feel like they had a constant personal concierge with them every second, from the time they started planning a trip until they got back from the trip?” asked the CEO.
The technology is rolling out on a Carnival Corporation Princess Cruises ship in November 2017, with more slated in early 2018. Plans call for the devices to be used eventually throughout the entire Carnival fleet of more than 100 ships and nine brands.
The world’s largest cruise company is investing big time in data and cloud technology that will gather and process amazing amounts of personal information. All of this data collection and mining will take place in the hopes that knowing their customers better will allow them to serve them better, and therefore, retain (and grow) their patronage better.
The strategy already seems to be paying off – without the first Medallion even being dropped in the mail. Only one day after making the OCEAN Medallion announcement, Carnival Cruise Lines stock (CCL) jumped to a near 52-year high.
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