MSC for Me will bring to the sea some of the very latest advances in customer-centric technology, in a program designed to meet the needs of guests for years to come. It will debut on MSC Meraviglia, the cruise line's first next-generation new mega-ship coming into service this June in the Mediterranean, which will be fitted with 16,000 points of connectivity, 700 digital access points, 358 informative and interactive screens, and 2,244 staterooms with RFID/NFC access technology. The program will next be rolled out on MSC Seaside when the ship launches in November.
MSC Cruises' Business Innovation team—supporting the vision and leadership of the Company's Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago—has overseen the integrated development, design and construction of the new ships. There will be three new classes of ships built from three new prototypes under the Company's ten-year investment plan. As a result, MSC Cruises will ensure that state-of-the-art technology is fully incorporated into every step of the development process of each prototype, from conception and construction through to the coming into service of each individual ship.
"From day one, innovation has been at the very core of what MSC Cruises stands for," said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. "Each time we bring to the market a new class of ship we develop a brand new prototype, so that we can best address the evolving needs of guests. This distinct approach has led to over 800 percent growth over the first ten years since we entered the cruising business. The length and scale of our investment plan is unprecedented in the industry and it means that we aren't just planning ships and experiences relevant to our cruise guests in the next few years, but to those we will welcome on board as far out as 2030 and beyond. Technology at the service of the guest experience is advancing at a rapid pace and that is why we've already invested about $21 million in the first two ships alone, to develop technology and infrastructure that is capable of meeting the needs of guests for years to come.
The holistic and guest-centric program is focused on connecting guests to their desired vacation experience through cutting-edge technology that is specially engineered to meet their every need, regardless of how they prefer to use technology when traveling.
"This journey started three years ago and today guests are less than 90 days away from experiencing a whole new cruise experience," said Luca Pronzati, chief innovation officer for MSC Cruises. "Together with more than eleven of the world's leading digital, tech and behavioral science experts, among which Deloitte Digital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Samsung, we are bringing some of their latest and most-advanced solutions and technology on board our ships—in fact, this is where most of these will be available for the first time ever on a cruise ship. Like smart, connected cities, but with the added complexity of being at sea, our fleet will demonstrate MSC Cruises' commitment to true innovation today and for years to come, making our ships a holiday destination in their own right."
WHY: The Need for More Connectivity & Digitally Enhanced Guest Experiences
Guest needs have informed and driven MSC Cruises' investment in MSC for Me, directly shaping the cruise experience of the future. A research study carried out in partnership with Deloitte Digital identified some of the following key findings:
• Technology must enable our crew in providing an even better service to our guests, and ultimately must enrich human contact.Additionally, research showed that more than one in two guests are increasingly looking at customizing their vacation experience both before and during their cruise (59%), with one out of six guests (17%) claiming to do so only once they're on-board. Furthermore, nearly three quarters (73%) of guests claimed to be interested in a vacation at sea on a more connected cruise ship.3 The research also identified that more than two out of three guests (69%) wish to use a smartphone on board, and more than one in three (36%) uses a tablet while at sea.
• With 170 different nationalities sailing with MSC Cruises, the challenge for communicating effectively with guests is complex. There is a need to provide relevant information based on the guest profile, and the digital channels must facilitate the effective delivery of this information.
• To simplify and optimize planning before and during the cruise to help guests better understand all of the offerings available, leaving more time to enjoy their vacation.
• To enhance the experience beyond 'the life on board' by integrating the guest experience before and after the cruise as part of a complete customer journey.
MSC for Me Key Features
In response to increasing demand for real-time flexibility, some of the innovative features that are available from MSC for Me are:
• Navigation: digital way finder that provides guests on board with advice, guidance and information on what's on. The technology is similar to smart maps and helps them find their way on the 1000+ foot long ships with a 16 foot precision. It also allows guests to locate their children, as needed.Overall, MSC for Me will provide guests with over 130 smart features geared toward a fully optimized vacation experience. These include a dedicated app to help guests tailor their vacations at any point on their journey, whether they are booking their excursions prior to embarkation or a specialty restaurant while relaxing by the top-deck pool. This will improve the overall guest experience, while also freeing up more time to enjoy one's vacation at sea.
• Concierge: allows guests to easily book services, restaurants, excursions and more in real time, 24/7.
• Capture: digital immersive discovery through virtual reality to preview excursions and a gallery with interactive screens showing the unique story of a guest's trip, which they can share in real time.
• Organizer: a planning tool for guests to check in with their mobile device, book trips, seats for shows, or the best dinner table, before embarking or when on board.
• TailorMade: digital, personal advisor that will provide tailored recommendations, based on preferences. Intelligent face recognition4 will help staff take care of guests in a highly personalized way. Interactive bracelets will connect guests to the ship's services and will activate geo-located suggestions through 3,050 bluetooth beacons.
MSC for Me will see its initial roll-out across the Company's new builds, with further refinement and enrichment taking place as each ship comes into service. Its key features will then be rolled out to all 12 ships comprised in MSC Cruises' existing fleet.
In 2016, MSC Cruises welcomed on board its ships 1.8 million guests from 170 countries. By 2026, the Company expects to welcome over 5 million guests a year. As the market leader in Europe, South America, and South Africa, this year marks a milestone for MSC Cruises as the Company will celebrate the christening of MSC Meraviglia in Le Havre on June 3 and MSC Seaside in Miami on December 21. Two more ships, MSC Seaview and MSC Bellissima are currently under construction and will come into service in June 2018 and March 2019, respectively.