PHOTO: Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald holds the Ocean Medallion.
Carnival Corp. is introducing a groundbreaking technological device later this year that could change the face of cruising – and you need to know what it does.
The Ocean Medallion, a quarter-sized disc, is chock full of enough technology to change your clients’ experience from planning their cruises to their last moments at sea and beyond. Everything from express check-in, ordering food and beverages, booking shore excursions and playing interactive games can be done from this 1.8-ounce marvel that can be worn on a wristband or necklace or carried in a pocket.
The Ocean Medallion will debut on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess in November 2017, followed by the Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in 2018. The roll-out will continue across the Princess fleet over multiple years as the new technology evolves and is perfected before adding it to other Carnival Corp. cruise lines.
John Padgett, Carnival Corp.’s chief experience and innovation officer, said the device is designed to simplify booking and managing cruise vacations – something he saw the need for when he joined the company in 2014.
“There is so much paper, so many hoops to jump through and we immediately said, we need to simplify this process. We need to make cruising more accessible to all,” Padgett said.
What makes this burnished aluminum disc so special? It promises to streamline and expedite embarkation and disembarkation, open staterooms effortlessly upon approaching the doors, locate friends and family aboard the ship, and buy merchandise without credit cards, paper or even a transaction.
The Ocean Medallion will also unlock interactive gaming opportunities, where, for example, passengers could play casino games against others from their staterooms. Plus, there are plans for a kid-specific gaming experience, Treasure Trove, a digital scavenger hunt that, upon preview inspection, is reminiscent of the MagiQuest gaming experience at Great Wolf Lodge.
Additionally, it will enable interaction between passengers and crew. Cruisers can set their food-and-beverage preferences before they sail or on board using the accompanying Ocean Compass smartphone app. That information will be instantly accessible by the crew, as will cruisers’ location on board. So, the crew will be able to deliver food to passengers throughout the ship instantly – no more standing in line for drinks or waiting in your stateroom for room service.
“The Ocean Medallion creates an elevated level of service that’s made possible by technology but doesn’t feel like technology,” Padgett said. “Whether guests are exploring new experience options, having a drink delivered to their seat at the night’s show or trying their luck gaming while lounging poolside, we will assist our guests wherever they are, while engaging with them in a uniquely personal way. Our mission is to help our guests make the most of every moment of their vacation.”
The Ocean Medallion portal also will be available on stateroom TVs, homeport kiosks and interactive touch screens throughout the ship.
Your clients will be sent their Ocean Medallion weeks ahead of their voyage. Upon completing all embarkation forms online pre cruise, check-in at the terminal will be virtually instantaneous. Check-out will be just as effortless.
Padgett said that the first available port of call and shore excursion to use the advance ordering feature will be Princess’ private Bahamas island, Princess Caye, but that the company hopes to enlist more excursion sites to use the service.
The Ocean Medallion also can recognize where guests are and direct them around the ship. If your clients want to stay in their stateroom one night, they can still view the live shows on the in-room TV.
In other developments, Carnival Corp. officials said the company plans to renovate its terminals to create more of a lounge atmosphere, where passengers can plan meals and shore excursions using the Ocean Medallion before boarding. The first terminals to receive a makeover will be in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, company officials said.
The Ocean Medallion has top-level encryption built in for cyber security and learns and adapts to the user. With each piece of personal information inputted it gets to know the user and will make food and entertainment suggestions. For example, as a guest passes a restaurant or a bar, it may suggest an entrée or drink based on orders already placed on ship.
“So much of the innovation we get excited about in industries has happened from outsiders in the specific industry, like Uber with cars and Airbnb with lodging,” Padgett said. “We’re excited to be the disrupters inside the industry. We’re knowledgeable of our customer needs but we’re adapting and evolving to the consumer’s changing needs. That’s a potent combination that we think will transform the hospitality industry.”
The Agent Equation
Much of the Ocean Medallion technology was designed with selling cruises in mind, said John Padgett, Carnival Corp.’s chief experience and innovation officer, adding that the company is looking to capture the significant number of prospective travelers who have never cruised before.
“We’re taking away a lot of the objections and hassle that has unfortunately become associated with cruising,” Padgett said. “Our goal is to give travel professionals the means to showcase the ease of the experience and the added luxury that the Medallion brings to each vacation.”
It will also help agents broaden their selling efforts to younger travelers who are looking to customize their experiences through technology. For baby boomers and beyond, the Medallion aims to eliminate delays and create a pampered experience at an affordable level.