Sea Change in Guest Experience Announced by Carnival CEO

When CTA announced Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest leisure travel company, as the opening keynote of CES 2017, it was reasonable to anticipate a major announcement and speculate that the defined characteristics of cruise ships and travelers could be a proving ground for smart tech and the promise of IoT technologies. This morning, Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, introduced the development of Ocean Medallion, what he described as “the world’s first interactive guest experience platform capable of transforming vacation travel into a highly personalized and elevated level of customized service.”

Ocean Medallion is, in fact, a complete ecosystem, the realization of IoT and represents the incorporation of many of the dreams and products that have been shown throughout CES for the past several years. Carnival took what Donald said was a “guest-centric” approach to create what the company believes will be “a personalized, simple, hassle-free journey of experience and adventure.”

While Carnival’s effort concentrates on its travel market and recognizes that there have been initial efforts along these lines in theme parks and special events, the platform it has developed and the implications and opportunities to create heightened customer experiences is of near universal interest.

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“With this interactive technology platform, we are poised to have our global cruise line brands at the vanguard of forever changing the guest experience paradigm — not just in the cruise industry but in the larger vacation market and potentially other industries,” said Donald.

The platform that Carnival will officially launch in November aboard its Regal Princess ship is powered by proprietary technology developed by Carnival Corporation that features an Internet of Things (IoT) network of intelligent sensors, beacons, and experiential computing devices. A key to its design is a reversal of typical BLD and NLC configuration, where the BLD beacon is usually stationary and the NLC is mobile.

The visible center of the platform is an elegant, personalized technogy-packed medallion that Carnival’s announcement called “a first-of-its-kind wearable device that enables a personal concierge by bridging the physical and digital worlds to deliver a new level of personalized service not previously considered possible — including sophisticated wayfinding, food and beverage on demand, an array of interactive gaming, personalized entertainment experiences and more.”

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John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival, described the experience enabled by the quarter-sized, 1.8 ounce disc that guests will receive at home. Crew members will also wear medallions that they say will “transform transactions into seamless interactions.”

Donald was also joined onstage by Joe Pine, author of The Experience Economy, who worked closely with Carnival in conceptualizing this strategy and platform. Pine talked about creating “genius experiences,” which anticipate customer needs. Success requires the kind of investment that only scale and the ability to leverage across a global fleet can afford.

The guest experience platform is a key element of O·C·E·A·N (One Cruise Experience Access Network), an effort by Carnival Corporation focused on expanding the cruise vacation market through guest experience innovation, the development of original experiential media content that includes new TV programs airing nationally, and expanding its portfolio of exclusive and unique destinations.

Related:
How the Gurus Behind Disney’s MagicBand Are Remaking a $38B Cruise Giant, Fast Company, 1/4/17
Carnival’s High-Tech Cruise Wearable Knows Your Every Need, Wired, 1/5/17