At Sourcetoad, we thrive on solving complex problems for our clients, which is why we love solving problems for the cruise and ferry industry. The cruise industry presents many unique challenges that have the potential to be solved with technology, so it gives us ample opportunity to innovate tech solutions that transform the onboard experience for both guests and crew. At the heart of our mission to digitally transform cruise operations has been solving the issue of reliable onboard guest communication. Today, we’ll dive into the journey we’ve taken over the past ten years to create a solution for onboard communication, including the critical role empathy plays in crafting guest-focused solutions, and give some tips on best practices for onboard guest communication.

Anchored in Empathy

Our journey into enhancing guest experiences begins with empathy—the cornerstone of all our endeavors here at Sourcetoad. Before we can begin solving the communication problem, we must first think of cruise passengers not as customers, but as our guests. By thinking of passengers as our cherished guests, we can center their experience and consider their entire journey, from pre-cruise to post-cruise. By understanding the guest’s motivations, needs, and challenges throughout their vacation, we can create solutions that aren’t merely functional, but also enhance the guest experience. It’s not just about technology; it’s about creating meaningful connections and memories. After all, we aren’t aiming to provide an automated assistant, we’re striving to be our guest’s trusted companions throughout their vacation.

Overcoming Communication Hurdles

In order to solve the onboard communication challenge, we had to overcome some hurdles along the way. Guest communication in the cruise environment presents some unique challenges:

Connectivity Conundrums: Tackling communication when internet access is limited or non-existent.

Roaming Realities: Catering to guests without active roaming or data services in unfamiliar territories.

Time Tangles: Navigating the confusion caused by disparities between ship time and device time.

Over the years, we tried multiple solutions to work around these challenges, but many were unreliable onboard. Let’s take a moment to explore the communication methods that, despite their promise, have proven ineffective in our unique environment:

Standard Push Notifications: Effective with internet, but fall flat during disruptions in ship connectivity.

Local Push Notifications: Tied to device-native events, they falter when devices disconnect from the ship’s network.

Polling Server Approach: Constant polling drains battery life, rendering notifications untimely and irrelevant.

Enter the game-changer: Local Network Push Notifications. Our response to these challenges was the development of a notification system that uses the onboard local network. By harnessing the power of the local network, we bypass the need for conventional internet, paving the way for consistent and efficient communication. 

Now that we’ve discussed the technical challenges surrounding onboard communication, let’s dive into the key components of an effective guest communication strategy.


The Pillars of Effective Guest Messaging

As we discussed above, a good communication strategy is rooted in the guest experience. We want to ensure our guests aren’t overburdened with irrelevant or late notifications, while also freeing up the crew as much as possible through automation. Our approach to guest messaging is built on three fundamental pillars:

Is it relevant?
Striking the balance between informative and intrusive to prevent message fatigue and ensure vital messages are noticed.

Is it timely?
Ensuring messages reach guests when they matter the most, preventing frustration and missed opportunities.

Can it be automated?
Empowering crews to automate targeted messaging, freeing them to offer exceptional guest service.

Elevating Crew and Guest Experiences

When we think about the business of cruise operations, we must think about the crew. While the guest is at the heart of our communication strategy, the crew experience is just as crucial. We look for any opportunity for technology to free up the crew from time-consuming manual tasks—like painstakingly sending messages to a list of guests by hand. We’ve made guest notifications fully customizable and configurable, allowing the crew to automate communications and give them their time back. By saving the crew countless hours of manual work, they can focus on providing unparalleled guest service. More efficient onboard operations creates a happier crew, which in turn creates happier guests.

When automating communications, it’s important to ensure that those messages still feel conversational and personalized to the guest. It’s a tricky balance to get right with technology—no one likes being disrupted by excessive, irrelevant communications. We want the messages to arrive at just the right time during the guest’s voyage to enhance rather than annoy.

Much like a thoughtful companion, our communication solutions anticipate needs, offer personalized assistance, and seamlessly blend into the guest’s journey. We understand that communication should be effortless, timely, and intuitive, allowing guests to focus on enjoying their vacation.


Journey’s End

A good communication strategy is an art that requires equilibrium, innovation, and the audacity to challenge norms. At Sourcetoad, we’re reshaping the paradigm of onboard guest communications, utilizing technology to enhance, not disrupt, the journey – an invisible hand guiding guests through unforgettable adventures.

As the cruise industry landscape evolves, Sourcetoad is continuously innovating to meet and exceed cruise line expectations. Join us as we redefine the future of onboard guest experiences!