How Princess Cruises is Taking Customer Personalization Up a Notch

Shelley Wise, Director,
Brand Marketing, Princess Cruises

Personalization is what we are all striving for in today’s world. If we can use data insights in a transparent, authentic way to not just talk to our customers, but truly cater to them, well then, we’ve hit the data jackpot.

That’s exactly what Princess Cruises has done with their Ocean Medallion technology, set to unveil on its inaugural cruise in November. It’s a small wearable device that serves as each guest’s personal concierge, allowing them to passively curate their own experiences onboard by interacting with other Medallions that are used by crew members, other guests and at sensors set throughout the ship. Customers fill out their preferences and profiles pre-cruise to get ‘ocean ready’ and then - from the moment they board the ship - they are stepping into a vacation experience unlike anything they’ve ever been a part of.

It’s one device that can open their door, alert passengers of upcoming events onboard or even have their favorite latte delivered to wherever they are at the same time each morning – all without them having to do a single thing.

“We asked ‘What would exceed all guest expectations? What could we do to make this unlike any experience?’ This was created by John Padgett and his team at the corporate level, but the Princess brand really wanted to be first [to unveil],” said Shelley Wise, Director of Brand Marketing at Princess Cruises.

The Medallion’s main goal is to serve up a frictionless, custom experience when people want it most: on vacation.

How to Surprise and Delight a Digital Native















In a world where we use smart technology to monitor our homes, listen to music and order any products we may need from Amazon Prime, consumers are becoming less surprised by personalized services and more expecting of them.

For brands, this means being constantly tuned in to the customer insights that are being collected.

“Personalization is just about leveraging the data you have. If you take your own CRM data and add on third party insights, you can get behavioral data. Then you can really feel like you know the interests of your customers. It’s a lot of work, but it can only scale up. Digging and figuring out which of those customer interests and numbers are the ones that move the needle is key. It’s not always about past spend habits that drive new conversions,” said Wise. “Because our customers are actually telling us what they want in their profiles, it’s easy.”

One thing she and her team realized was that, although consumers of all ages love their technology and cell phones, not all of them are tech savvy. Additionally, many don’t even want to stare at their phone screens while on vacation.

“We found our demographic really enjoys putting away their phone on vacation. The Medallion allows them to do that without losing any connectedness. What’s refreshing for customers is that they can engage with it as little or as much as they would like."

For example, you can choose to opt-in for the Ocean Compass or disconnect completely, but can still message family members to stay in touch and keep track of a group.

Bringing in Team Members Seals the Deal















Driving home a great personalized experience ultimately requires involvement from team members at every stage of the customer journey.

“It really empowers our team members and crew to help guests even more and understand what they need. Our crew members don’t like to not having a solution when a guest asks – now, they don’t have to send that person to someone else or to a different part of the ship, they have the answer with them.”

Although Princess has a unique opportunity to include team members because their crew literally lives with their guests, any organization can hone in on potential customer touchpoints to deliver a great experience. Start with data testing and mining – split websites, Amazon, email campaigns, banner ads, etc – to get those actionable insights. Start with small wins and then scale to other areas.  

“If you learn that geo-targeting works online, then start doing in email. You get approval for the larger initiative based on proven past results that are smaller-scale. From there, marketers should look for ways to fully immerse the customer in the brand experience, that's how you create a loyal following of brand advocates."