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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MarieF712
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MarieF712,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2015 | 11:18:36 AM
Opinion
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 trustmypaper.com than wasting my time cruising.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
4/29/2015 | 12:22:01 PM
Security
Now that their capacity to connect has been expanded, have they addressed security of the access and the data transmission.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
4/29/2015 | 1:22:20 PM
Re: Security
Impactnow,

You have rightly pointed out a crucial issue here.

However,as you also know Security is usually an after-thought in such Systems.

Why is that the case?

In their rush to satisfy consumers they neglect basic security best practices till its too late.

"They want as few roadblocks to customers Internet using experience as possible".

Do read the last line of the Blog which refers to this issue only-

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.

 
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
4/29/2015 | 3:31:37 PM
Re: Security
Security is a huge issue here.  There has to be lots of controls in place, and especially since these ships tend to change location frequently or sit in international waters, there is a risk of should something happen where a guest is doing something they shouldn't be, how do they ensure that they can hold these folks responsible, while protecting other users sharing the same network.

 
JonathanO850
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JonathanO850,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2015 | 3:50:30 PM
Cost
I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise last week.  The cost of WiFi was over $100 a day.  Any benefit Royal Caribean seeks to provide by offering internet access on their ships is quickly subverted by the ridiculous and offensive cost.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 4:07:53 AM
Re: Security
@Stratustician: An interesting aspect related to security would be the fact that since the ships are sailing in no-man's-land, there's no one country's law that would apply to the information security. Normally, the cyber laws related to the country you're residing in control your internet activity. What happens when you're out on a ship in an open sea without a country's boundaries? Whose laws do you follow?
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
4/30/2015 | 6:28:48 AM
Re: Security
impactnow, If they did everything right, they probably took care of security before expanding the capacity. No big company leaves security unattended these days. -Susan
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 10:46:25 AM
Re: Security
"impactnow, If they did everything right, they probably took care of security before expanding the capacity. No big company leave security unattended these days"

They probably hire third party logistics and security based firms for both physical and software security.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
4/30/2015 | 12:33:19 PM
Re: Security
Sachin, Doesn't all this make you want to do some personal research? :D -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
4/30/2015 | 12:49:37 PM
Re: Cost
Jonathan, are you serious? $100 per day?! WiFi has been provided by all the cruise companies in northern Europe and the Baltic states for years now and at no cost. Many times I have worked from a cruise ship and got free WiFi, and it's very fast. Royal Caribbean is just catching up, with the difference that they are charging for a service that is provided for free by others. -Susan
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