The global cruise industry is undergoing a period of rapid transformation. In a climate of increased consolidation and regulation, cruise companies around the world face a complex set of challenges when it comes to managing their vast crews and keeping their passengers safe. Optimising crew and resources, achieving economies of scale and winning market share in one of the world’s fastest growing leisure sectors are key objectives in the sector, yet the sheer scale of managing cruise ships may make these goals seem unattainable.
All too frequently, the volume of information and process challenges involved in the industry can have a potentially damaging impact on customer service and negative commercial implications. At the same time, these challenges present significant opportunities for cost control, service improvement and strategic performance when the issues are overcome and resources are optimised effectively.
So how do cruise lines overcome these challenges and turn them into positive opportunities? Dynama’s Scheduling and Resource Management for Cruise Lines white paper outlines how these operators can improve guest satisfaction and business performance by deploying automated workforce optimisation (WFO) solutions to alleviate the biggest pain points in six key areas.
First, cruise operators should optimise their resources by using the latest WFO technology to gain 360-degree visibility across deck, engine and hotel crew from within one single integrated system. Having all critical information in one place provides control in an information-intensive environment, making it easy to create, maintain and change schedules quickly and efficiently. This gives management time to focus on revenues and minimising risk, while crew members can devote themselves to improving the guest experience.
The second area to focus on is cost control. Ensuring the right crew members are on the right cruise ships at the right time with up-to-date medical and travel documentation is critical but expensive. In fact, crew travel expenses are one of the biggest costs for cruise lines. The good news is that even small changes can amount to multi-million dollar savings. The latest WFO solutions integrate with human resources and travel systems to enable joined-up logistics planning that keep crew moving, with the best flight and hotel deals available. Furthermore, sophisticated functionality enables operators to plan for ‘what if’ scenarios. This includes budgetary analysis alongside full demand planning and compliance management before a single dollar is actually spent.
Third on the list is compliance with international best-practice standards and legislation. This is essential when it comes to ensuring the safety of crew and passengers. Automated WFO systems provide the hard evidence necessary to demonstrate compliance with these regulations by capturing, storing and reporting on a ship’s end-to-end compliance activities at the click of a button. Plus, they minimise the risk of heavy penalties for non-compliance.
Next up is staff engagement. Attracting, developing and retaining the best talent is a constant challenge in the highly competitive cruise industry, so operators must find ways to improve staff engagement levels. To do this, companies can use WFO to create a virtual library of crew skills and then tap into the data to develop meaningful training programmes and career paths. They can further empower and motivate staff by adding self-service capabilities. At a glance, crew members can view their schedules, see who they are working with, trade shifts with colleagues and request time off, at any time and from anywhere in the world.
Change readiness is the fifth key area. Constantly changing operational and industry demands put immense pressure on scheduling and resource management. Fortunately, WFO solutions consolidate and analyse big data in a dynamic way, enabling managers to build efficient, flexible schedules for today and tomorrow. Spotting trends and variances in demand and in real time improves proactive decision-making and boosts business agility.
Finally, cruise operators should explore system interfacing. Effective scheduling and resource management depend on harnessing the right information from the best applications available, rather than forcing existing systems to integrate with each other. The latest WFO solutions interface with most of the leading enterprise resource planning and human resources systems as standard, enabling easy information exchange for core financial, human resources and payroll requirements. Delivered as software-as-a-service solutions, today’s technology also reduces capital expenditure and simplifies the IT implementation and management procedures associated with traditional on-premise infrastructures.
By focusing on these six areas and executing them well, cruise operators can create a future-proof scheduling and resource management framework that helps them to keep everything shipshape.
Lee Clarke is general manager for US and EMEA at Dynama
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