RCCL's New Booking System Is Optimized For The Mobile Age
Royal Caribbean was the 1st cruise line to introduce an online booking system for agents, with CruiseMatch 2000 debuting almost 20 years ago. Now it’s time to say goodbye to that name and hello to Espresso, which RCCL touts as the 1st online booking system that is truly optimized for the mobile device age.
“We’ve seen the trend towards people using mobile devices for just about everything,” says Juan Silva, Director of E-marketing & Distribution who demoed Espresso for Cruise Week. “With Espresso, agents can book clients while sitting in a coffee shop using a tablet computer.”
Why “Espresso”? "Espresso references speed, efficiency and performance,” says Silva. “It’s an entirely different name that speaks to the identity of the new system."
Agents who weren’t huge fans of CruiseMatch or who like clean leaps in innovation will be happy to know that Espresso is an entirely separate entity from its predecessor. “It’s a whole new platform,” says Silva. “New servers, new code base, brand new user interface.”
Indeed, the user interface is one of the most notable new aspects of Espresso, and it has been optimized both for touch and to take advantage of newer, higher-resolution displays. Everything is larger, with more leeway for errant finger presses; it also has a modern “look” that makes it feel at home on a tablet screen. The demo video Royal is set to release shows an agent processing an entire booking on her iPad, although it works just fine on a regular computer as well.
While Espresso certainly has strong visual appeal, the changes are more than skin-deep. Royal is also touting additional functionalities and features, many of which it says were inspired directly by agent feedback.
The 1st is the new group-booking system, which features 3 columns with cabins and pricing. The 2nd will be familiar to agents: a column that shows cabins available for individual booking and a column that shows cabins that an agent possesses as part of a group booking. The 3rd column, however, shows cabins that are still open to group inventory at prevailing pricing, a feature Royal says agents have been eager to see.
“They have been asking for this for years and it’s finally coming,” says Silva.
In addition to simplifying group structuring, Silva also says Espresso makes it easier to book multiple categories for families in the same booking process. “For the very 1st time, agents can tell us on individual bookings how many rooms they are looking for, and they have multi-category availability. For the 1st time they can do a balcony for the parents, an inside for the kids… all within the same shopping process.”
An oversized interactive deck plan makes it easier for agents to visualize where cabins are in relation to one another. It’s certainly convenient, but agents don’t get features like this all to themselves: Silva has listed the deck plans as a feature that will for sure be adopted by the consumer-facing website, and says that others will be as well.
“The main users are travel partners around the world,” he maintains.
So when can these travel partners take a sip of Espresso?
“We’re already in beta with a few key partners,” says Silva. “We’re adding more partners in February, with a full release at the end of March."