How Royal Caribbean Keeps Customers Connected - InformationWeek

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How Royal Caribbean Keeps Customers Connected

Royal Caribbean Cruises is meeting modern customer expectations with wireless connectivity at sea.

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Modern customers demand constant connectivity. In fact, they expect it -- even on a cruise ship floating in the middle of the ocean.

"People want to stay connected today. They want to share," said Bill Martin, CIO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, in his presentation at this week’s InformationWeek Conference. Martin explained how adopting high-speed Internet transformed the customer experience and business model at the world's second-largest cruise company.

The typical Internet capacity on cruise ships is about 1-2 Mbps, a speed that makes it "worse than dial-up," Martin noted, when spread among 3,000 guests. Royal Caribbean needed to broaden its capacity in order to give customers the connectivity they wanted at a reasonable price.

It found a solution to improve Internet capacity through a partnership with O3b, which brings high-speed Internet to people without online access. O3b uses satellites that orbit closer to Earth, which have proven instrumental to Royal Caribbean's strategy. The cruise line found that it could offer customers Internet capacity 300 times greater, and six times faster, than its previous limit.

To test its new connectivity, Royal Caribbean conducted an experiment. For one month, it allowed customers and crew free Internet access without restrictions placed on usage or number of devices. More than 5,000 devices were connected during that time.

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It found that customers primarily used their connectivity for streaming media, which was followed closely by usage of top social media sites Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Traffic increased 450 times to those four platforms, said Martin, and millions of high-resolution photos were shared per week.

The customers' enthusiasm for on-board connectivity led Royal Caribbean to alter its business model. It used to charge a premium for few people to use the Internet; now, it charges little to connect as many people as possible. "It was a major point of guest satisfaction," Martin concluded.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Author
4/29/2015 | 12:22:01 PM
Now that their capacity to connect has been expanded, have they addressed security of the access and the data transmission.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2015 | 11:18:36 AM
I constantly thought that internet with satellite connection was provided on cruise ships many years ago. I was pretty surprised having known that it has been done recently. Now I can go cruising and keep working on my dissertation a bit. Though I'd rather hire than wasting my time cruising.
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