Digital Rules The Waves

Digitization is changing the way we vacation. In fact, when Carnival Cruise Line’s Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess takes to the high seas in November 2017, it will be the first ship to be fully outfitted with the new Ocean Medallion, a disc the size of a quarter designed to help the brand take guest personalization to a new level.

The device, which can be worn as jewelry or discreetly pocketed, “uses a guest-centric, Internet of Things approach to enable guests to maximize their experiences in real time based on their choices and preferences,” according to the company.

The Ocean Medallion, paired with an app called Ocean Compass, functions as a kind of digital concierge for guests. For example, servers at all dining locations could know in advance about a guest’s dietary restrictions and dining favorites.

The app might also alert a guest of an upcoming activity based on their interests. An adventurous guest, for example, might be reminded to book a shore excursion such as kayaking or hiking, while a wine lover could be informed of an upcoming tasting.

A network of 7,000 sensors throughout the ship enables these functions, as well as others such as easily locating friends and family. The medallion also allows guests to enter their rooms without the need to tap the device, pay for items throughout the ship without additional cards or money, and embark and debark more easily. For security, crewmembers can verify each guest’s identity by referencing a photo that appears on their own screens along with each transaction.

With the Ocean Medallion, Carnival is betting that travelers’ desire for personalization will outweigh concerns about security and intrusiveness. While the brand hasn’t yet said much about advertising, the same kind of data used to tailor the guest experience could also be used to deliver targeted messages.

But the self-contained setting of a cruise, in which people are more relaxed than usual, may prove to be an ideal testing ground for this sort of user interaction. “As long as you benefit the guest, they don’t mind sharing” personal information, John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival, recently told The New York Times.

Carnival’s announcement doesn’t only reflect the travel industry’s growing affinity for technology; it also signals a shift in wearable tech. This year at the Consumer Electronics Show, the wearable conversation is no longer focused on the perennial “battle of the [fitness tracking] bands.” Instead of vying for permanent wrist real estate, companies are creating innovative wearables for specific lifestyle usage.

Imagine, for example, being escorted to your table in your favorite restaurant, where your beverage of choice already awaits. Lifestyle medallions, anyone?

Princess Cruises Ocean Medallion Service

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