RCI’s VOOM: Is High Speed Internet A Legitimate Selling Point?
the early 2000s, the largest cruise lines have been playing a game of “who can
craziest thing on a ship” - a string of ice skating rinks, bowling alleys,
light shows, surfing simulators and increasingly
outlandish water slides. These are all meant to enticepax to get onboard, and their
fundamental appeal is that they are things you can’t do at home.
Enter Royal Caribbean’s VOOM, which is bucking the trend by offering pax theability to do exactly what they can
already do in their own homes: surf the internet at highspeed. The allure is subtle, but Royal
firmly believes that in today’s hyper-connected age,fast internet speeds are a necessity
rather than a perk.
“For most people, if you’re on vacation, there’s no longer any such thing as
unpluggingand checking back a
week later to see how things have gone,” says Mark Tamis, S.V.P.Hotel Operations. “Things have become
blurred. If I were on a vacation where I wasdisconnected,
that would be less of a vacation.”
points out that there is an important demographic that demands internet access
aswell, although not necessarily
to stay on top of work. “My kids are 16 and 13, and I could not take them on a
vacation where we didn’t haveaccess.
It would be miserable for all of us. That’s just the way they grew up.”
These 2 user case scenarios represent Royal’s fundamental pitch on VOOM: The
daysof being able to take a
vacation without worrying that you’re missing anything are long over,as are the days of “sea camp whatever”
being all it takes to keep kids happy.
On its website Royal is touting the fact that VOOM enables vacation “sharing”:
an in-progress Instagram is front and centre and Royal invites cruisers to “Surf.
Stream. Share.”Tamis says that
the ability to share a vacation with friends on social media is surprisinglycritical to the vacation experience
for modern cruisers.
“There’s this sense that people like to post what we call a ‘humble brag,’” he
says,“letting people know where
they are. Like swimming with stingrays, for example. Or#HumboldtGlacier, wherever they’re
having a good time.”
VOOM is currently available on Quantum and
Oasis-class ships, and Royal saysthe
entire fleet will be online within a couple of years.
Part of the reason Royal is hyping VOOM more heavily than other newfeatures is its perceived
sustainability as a selling point. “We partner with a company called O3B and
have a network of 6 satellites,” saysTamis.
“Our relationship with O3B is exclusive.”
The emphasis is on exclusive. In other words, operating your own network of
satellites isnot as trivial as,
say, building a bigger water slide, and Royal believes that its head start willallow it to maintain a wide lead over
its competitors, who - it should be noted - do offer theirown Internet connection options.
“It’s about making sure we continue to stay ahead of the curve. Innovation has
always been part of our DNA. It just so happens thatinnovation now is generally about
technology,” Tamis says.
question still remains: is VOOM actually a legitimate selling point?
In a word, yes. It might not be enough to convince a brand loyalist to jump
ship, buthaving fast Internet
helps overcome a typical objection of those who are new-to-cruise: thatbeing on a cruise ship can seem
isolating. “Attracting people who are new-to-cruise is a big part of what we’re
trying to do,”
And what about those who relish the idea of being able get away from it all?
Will they beobligated to use VOOM for fear of missing out on Internet-demanding features
like the RoyaliQ app?
“There’s nothing on the ship where you have to be online to experience
something or tohave a better experience,” Tamis assures.
But more and more customers are choosing to connect, with Tamis indicating that
the “majority” of them buy Internet for the whole voyage.
Mourn the bygone days of lounging by the pool without a care in the world if
youmust, but in the meantime
VOOM - and the concept of connected ships in general - is apowerful selling point for millennials
and other customers.