Royal Caribbean is making vacations more relaxing and enriching than ever, thanks to augmented reality, VR and artificial intelligence. Mike Giresi, Chief Information Officer at Royal Caribbean, spoke with industry analyst Michael Krigsman at CXOTalk during the IPsoft Digital Workforce Summit in New York about how the cruise ship company is improving its “floating cities” with products like the Amelia AI platform.
Amelia, for example, can help improve customer service with more personalized information and authentic interactions, even training the system to resolve issues proactively — before they become issues.
Royal Caribbean operates in 47 countries with more than 50 cruise ships, each equipped with floating data centers, which can support up to 7,000 guests at a time. The company enables technology to provide more control and options for guests, such as expanding the vacation experience beyond the physical ship.
“Using augmented reality, or virtual reality, to bring experiences onto the ship that you would not be able to see; where you would not be able to experience because the ship has physical limitations, so people can understand what’s happening with the ship, doing interesting things with social. Enabling people to self-select opportunities to go on excursions that may not have been available to them in personalizing that information, so they can get to the things that are of most interest to them,” Giresi said. “We believe we are in the business of making tremendous memories.”
Michael Krigsman: I’m Michael Krigsman, an industry analyst with CxOTalk. And, we are here in New York City at the IPsoft Digital Workforce Summit. I’m speaking with Mike Giresi, who is the Chief Information Officer at Royal Caribbean. Hey, Mike!
Mike Giresi: Hey, Michael! Nice to see you.
Michael Krigsman: Likewise! So, tell us about Royal Caribbean.
Mike Giresi: We operate in almost 47 different countries. We have 50-plus ships, and we are currently in the process of undergoing a significant transformation.
Michael Krigsman: You’re running data centers that are floating around the world!
Mike Giresi: We have 50-plus floating data centers that operate ships that can support anywhere from 2,500 – 7,000 guests at a time.
Michael Krigsman: You’ve been undertaking this major program of digital transformation.
Mike Giresi: So we are in the process of creating a frictionless and immersive vacation experience for our guests.
Michael Krigsman: So, what does that mean: “frictionless and immersive?”
Mike Giresi: Our intent is to make it as simple as possible for you to understand the product, to be able to select what the product represents to you, and ultimately experience the product once you’re on the actual, physical ship.
Michael Krigsman: How do you use technology?
Mike Giresi: Well, technology more or less provides the entire guest experience. What we’re doing with our technology is modernizing it in a way that enables the guest to have much more control and direct selection of what they want to do with the product itself; moving from reservation being the center of our universe, to the guest being the center of our universe, and then building capability services integration points. [We are] enabling technology to move with the guests versus the guests having to traverse different monolithic and antiquated systems, and ultimately feel like nothing is purposely put together.
Michael Krigsman: So when you say, “enables the guest to have more control?”
Mike Giresi: The more we can do with the product, in terms of enabling both guest and customer experiences, if you will, but doing so in a way that broadens the ship. Like, how do we expand the vacation experience beyond the ship, so that you’re not constrained by the physical limitations of the ship? That’s the design around the technology strategy.
Michael Krigsman: Can you give an example of that?
Mike Giresi: So, using augmented reality, or virtual reality, to bring experiences onto the ship that you would not be able to see; where you would not be able to experience because the ship has physical limitations, so people can understand what’s happening with the ship, doing interesting things with social. Enabling people to self-select opportunities to go on excursions that may not have been available to them in personalizing that information, so they can get to the things that are of most interest to them.
We believe we are in the business of making tremendous memories. The better we can provide that information to you, the more successful we’re going to be in providing the product.
Michael Krigsman: Where are you in the process of rolling this kind of technology out?
Mike Giresi: So, we’re fairly early days. We’ve gone through a lot of the heavy lifting from a foundational capability perspective. And when you think about a ship, you have a bunch of people, obviously guests on the ship, but there’s a lot of crew on the ship, and there are a lot of supply chain processes. I mean, what it takes to run one of these floating cities is no different than what it takes to run a city. You’re just running it at sea. So each time that ship comes into a port, each time it does something, there’s an opportunity to change and/or impact the experience. So, how do we make sure we maximize our processes and people in support of this program so that people feel like it’s something of value?
Michael Krigsman: So, your broader business strategy, then, relies on all of this technology and the goal of the technology is to, as you say, broaden that guest experience.
Mike Giresi: We want people to feel like coming to a cruise is not an overwhelming or intimidating experience. We want people to feel confident that as soon as they get on the ship, their vacation begins. In fact, we’d love their vacation to begin before they arrive. But once you enter into the port to walk onto the ship, we want it to be as seamless as humanly possible. We want you to enjoy it, feel relaxed, be excited; you have your itinerary, you have your agenda, if you will; you know all the things you’re going to do. If you learn of new things, how easy is it to change that, and be able to swiftly and agilely adapt to whatever is available to you so you maximize that experience.
Michael Krigsman: So, Mike, I know you’re working with Amelia and AI.
Mike Giresi: Yes.
Michael Krigsman: What are you doing?
Mike Giresi: So, we are looking at two aspects of AI. One is our actual workforce, and how we can provide better information, and help them ensure that they are making every guest interaction; whether it’s in our call center, whether it’s in our crew interacting with our guests; that those interactions are of high quality and that we’re driving a great experience. We believe there’s an opportunity to provide guests with more personalized information, with more options that are relevant to their interests, and the more authentic it feels to someone, people will be more friendly to it and they’ll feel less intimidated by the overall process.
Michael Krigsman: Where is the AI component? How does that fit?
Mike Giresi: AI enables us to quickly move those issues to a point of solution much faster. As we’ve been able to train the system, we can proactively resolve issues before they become issues. When we turn a ship, it’s much like a plane. It’s just a lot more complicate. So our ability to disembark people off that ship, invite the new guests onto the ship, and do that in a successful and high-quality manner, is critical to the success of the journey. So, IPsoft is helping us see the status of our systems, how healthy our systems are, what the likelihood of having a problem is during that process, and to disable these issues from happening. Where we’re looking at AI, in terms of taking it, is around the consumer experience. When you come to a cruise site, the amount of data that’s available to you is voluminous, I mean, there’s so much information. If we know a little bit about you, and we kind of understand what you’re interested in, we can deliver that information in a much more personalized manner; call center, crew … How do we get better information to people so they can service the guests and help the guests maximize their interaction with the business? Obviously, we think we can help convert and acquire people more effectively by understanding behavioral trends and historical activities. And for our crew, it’s really about them having the right information when they most need it to provide the right level of service to our guests.
Michael Krigsman: Great! Mike Giresi from Royal Caribbean. Thank you so much!
Mike Giresi: Thank you, Michael! I enjoyed it.