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BLOG: Guest Communication Technology Q&A with Sourcetoad’s Hospitality Product Leader Eve Mitts

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1. When contacting and messaging guests using technology, what matters the most as you build your products?

Guests put a lot of planning into their cruises, and they want to enjoy the best experience possible. When communicating with guests, we consider three important questions:
a. Are the messages relevant? Excessive alerts are annoying and distracting for everyone.
b. Are the messages timely? Late messages can lead to anger and frustration when a guest has missed an activity because the message reached them at the wrong time.
c. Can guest messaging be automated? Guests appreciate an attentive crew, so providing a tool to configure targeted messaging in an automated way allows the crew more time to be guest-facing.

2. Sending messages to guests while onboard or pre-cruise can be tricky. Not everyone is going to check their email or phone or stateroom TV in a timely manner. How can cruise lines make sure that passengers are receiving important information?

Using multiple communication channels for targeted notifications can improve the delivery rate of important messages. However, those messages need to originate from a centralized resource where the message delivery status and guest acknowledgements can be tracked and action taken for those guests who have not received the messages.

3. Push notifications are great in theory, but they seem to drain mobile phone batteries faster, and notification delivery to guests is not super reliable. Why is that?

This issue is why we have moved away from traditional push notifications. Sourcetoad is now the only company in the world (that we know of) using the new local push notifications feature for iOS and Android, which doesn’t need internet access and doesn’t drain battery.

4. Is there a difference in the types of communication for different types of cruises? For example, are there more messages that you need to send during an Expedition voyage than during an Ocean or River cruise?

Yes. Cruise lines with different classes of ships have different needs when it comes to communication from crew to guests. For example, an Ocean or River cruise ship won’t have to change event schedules very often. Expedition ships continually change events, like moving an event location to avoid weather, or canceling all of the day’s activities due to rough seas.

5. If the crew are juggling so many events and activities, how are they able to take the time to send messages to all of their guests? We provide the crew with a tool for sending automated messages that are triggered by
changes to onboard events. Shoreside or crew can also create or import groups of guests in advance so that messages can be targeted to a particular group, rather than having to painstakingly select from a list of all passengers for every message.

6. Is anyone using this technology yet?

Yes! Our Ocean and Expedition clients are already using this technology. Each type of cruise is configured in different ways that are best suited for communicating about events and activities with their guests most effectively.

7. What have the guest and crew reactions been to this technology?

Guests have been delighted to have their important updates come directly to their phones and their TVs. This allows them to plan around changes and maximize their vacation time. Expedition crews love being able to reach guests efficiently and reliably during the rapidly-changing environments of Expedition cruising. The crew also appreciate not interrupting the entire ship with loud PA system announcements.

8. What communication problems would you like to solve in the future?

From pre-cruise to post-cruise, communication is vital throughout the guest’s journey. Making sure you reach guests with targeted, relevant messages can be impossible if email and snail mail are your only options. The future of guest communications is sending real time messages for every aspect of the guest experience.

Find out more about Sourcetoad here

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