Cruise Customer Expectations Are Rapidly Changing.

John Donalson - 09.19.2019

At Teleperformance we believe that it’s not good enough to just deliver expertise in customer experience (CX) to our clients, we need to help them see what’s coming next. Our CX Lab had 200,000 survey responses last year in 14 key markets and across 18 industries so we can see exactly how customers are behaving now and what they will expect from any emerging industry trends. Our analysts explore future trends today.

One area we studied recently in the USA is an exciting sector of the travel industry – cruises. The perception of traveling on a cruise ship has been changing in recent years and the CX Lab talked to a wide variety of customers who had booked a cruise in the past year. You can obtain a copy of the analysis by contacting me directly, but allow me to illustrate some of the highlights here.

The cruise sector has changed considerably in recent years; customers who still think that a cruise vacation requires formal dress for dinner at the Captain’s table will be in for a pleasant surprise. Modern ships offer skydiving, access to private islands, go-karts, and roller coasters on board along with amazing spas and celebrity chefs cooking dinner.

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has published recent data indicating that the number of guests has increased by 6% globally in the past year. Just compare the 28.2 million cruise guests in 2018 to the 19 million of a decade ago and it’s easy to see that more people are finding that a cruise is an exciting vacation option. In fact, with this level of growth it is possible to say that demand is outstripping the ability of the industry to offer enough cruises. Most cruises are presently running at high utilization rates.

Customers can tailor their cruise experience today, using apps to expedite the check-in and checkout procedures, and all while sharing their experience in real-time on social networks. The results show that 47% of the cruise customers we surveyed state that they are now using mobile apps to improve the cruise experience.

Demographics have always been important to companies offering cruises. Traditionally viewed as a vacation for older customers, now 40% of survey respondents are actually from Generation Z or the millennial age group. Cruises are definitely appreciated by all age groups today. These younger age groups have a strong preference for experiences, such as music festivals, new activities, and themed trips, and the cruise companies are answering this need by creating packages that go beyond the cruise alone and create a more comprehensive trip.

Around 53% of cruise customers regularly post on social media about their cruise experience and at least 15% have used social networks to resolve a customer service issue. Over 80% of cruise customers said that they have contacted the customer service department of their cruise company in the past year – this is extremely high compared to other industry sectors in the USA and demonstrates the importance of CX to this area of travel.

Creating a service that resonates with younger demographics is the key to building a pipeline of future customers, but this depends on the foundation of great service. Cruise customers in the USA interact with their cruise brand far more that with retailers or other types of service providers, giving more chances to improve the relationship, but also more opportunities to make mistakes too. Right now, satisfaction levels for this sector are below the average of the USA so there is an opportunity for most cruise companies to get closer to their customers.

Over the next few weeks I will outline more detailed information from the findings of the Teleperformance CX Lab and their analysis of the cruise industry. Here are a few statistics you may be interested in, but keep watching out for the next installment in this blog series:

1.    The top 7 key cruise players are responsible for 94% of volume of consumers participating in a recent CX Lab Survey

2.    Representing 40% of recent cruisers, Millennials and Gen Z have different expectations and behaviors from previous generations when it comes to their favorite cruise lines

3.    Gen Z cruisers are significantly less satisfied with the quality of entertainment and leisure activities offered aboard.

4.    47% of cruisers surveyed used their cruise line’s mobile app

5.    Over 80% of consumers would prefer to book online if they were given a discount. This percentage climbs for Gen Z and Millennials.

Please follow me here on LinkedIn to ensure that you see the next in this blog series on your timeline. Feel free to let me know what you think about the changing cruise industry by leaving a comment, or use my LinkedIn profile to send me a direct message – or just send me an email directly.

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