The rising popularity of the smaller luxury ship experience presents fresh challenges for the cruise industry. Lee Clarke of Dynama outlines the major hurdles and how the latest workforce optimization solutions hold the key to enhancing the crew and guest experience
Many passengers are looking for a more intimate cruising experience and to visit less tourist dominated areas, without giving up the luxury amenities of a large ocean liner. The increased demand for river cruising is just one example that reflects the rising popularity of a small ship experience. The number of UK and Irish travellers choosing a river cruise hit an all-time high of 150,300 in 2015 representing an increase of more than 10,000 passengers compared to the previous year.(i) This eight percent increase was mainly driven by the large number of new river ships being launched. In 2015, 184 Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) member river ships were sailing with another 18 new ships on order in 2017, an increase of around 7 percent.(ii)
Rapid growth, two major challenges
A trend to smaller, luxury ships is having a major impact on cruise lines bringing with it two major challenges:
1. Finding the right people – the small ship cruise model has built its reputation on being an intimate experience that delivers a highly personalized service from onboard customer service to off-ship sightseeing excursions – all of which are driven by people. Not having the right mix of crew can spoil the cruise experience. Finding and then keeping the right people is a top priority for operators.
2. The need for speed – with rapid expansion, the more exclusive cruise operators need to overhaul and expand their operations quickly, evolving from boutique companies that could manage crew schedules with something as simple as a spreadsheet or as part of their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system into a larger, dynamic enterprise that requires a dedicated automated crew and resource planning solution to improve planning horizons, take on more vessels and enable more exotic and appealing itineraries.
So how can the smaller, more exclusive cruise lines improve the happiness of their crew to reinforce a positive culture that translates into enhanced guest satisfaction? What are the best strategies to overcome corporate growing pains and expand your fleet without significantly increasing the cost of back office crewing functions?
Fortunately, the latest workforce optimization solutions can help. By maximising automation, today’s smaller cruise operators can achieve the same high levels of crewing and resource planning as their larger ocean-going counterparts. Dedicated workforce optimization can be used to: