Carmen Morosan, Global Shore Excursions Manager, provides an update on the latest activities across the Intercruises SHX global business, and outlines the new initiatives currently being rolled out…
How has the last year been for Intercruises Shorex? Extremely busy! There’s so much going on! We are looking at new products, strategies and technologies. All teams have embraced innovation and we are seeing some really creative and original products from all our ports globally.
What is going on in the different regions? Americas: The structure of the Shorex team in North America has changed to be more aligned with the rest of the business globally, and we have two very strong people leading our efforts, with Olga Rodriguez – in charge of product development and bidding, and Cynthia Heerspink – responsible for operations delivery. We have spent some time focusing on The Pacific Northwest and New England, important Shorex areas that we plan to grow. We work on expanding the teams, and organized FAM trips and attended the Cruise Canada New England 2017. The season was challenging and it ended with many cancellations due bad weather conditions, and we’ve had to deploy additional support for our teams in New England and New York. The team has handled complex Shorex operations during significant moments this year, including July 4th, Columbus Day and, Halloween weekends and more.
Asia-Pacific: Our focus has been securing exclusive tours in new destinations, especially in Australia, where they developed tour videos – a new initiative for Intercruises, providing the onboard Shorex sales team a chance to better understand the destination and experience, helping them more accurately explain the product to guests. To support this we have now provided the Intercruises Shorex managers in each region with at least one GoPro and one digital camera.
Like all regions, in Asia there has been a focus on developing new products with the “Local” theme. The growing Chinese market is also a focus. In terms of destinations, the Philippines and Indonesia are growing and will have a significant number of new calls in 2018. China’s growth continues and the team have won important new business in South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia.
In June, we met in Cambodia for the annual Asia-Pacific workshop in Siep Reap, and I must say, it was one of the most intense, creative and productive regional workshops I have ever attended. I would like to congratulate the Australian and Asian teams for their participation and for organizing such a well-rounded program.
India & Indian Ocean: I also attended a regional product workshop in Mauritius to better understand their portfolio and challenges, and explain what we are doing in other regions. This transfer of knowledge across regions is important and I know that Namibia and South Africa recently won business with support from another region more experienced with the cruise line involved, as they knew how the operation should be managed and the type of product to offer. The team has also developed some great new local and luxury tours, including the unique Chickfun Bus! Right now the team in Sri Lanka is very much focused on preparing everything for the Solar Eclipse calls in 2018.
Mediterranean & Europe: A significant focus on technology, primarily on Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) tours, with new developments in Barcelona, Seville and Greece, where the team has expanded the concept to Knossos, Olympia, Lindos, Delphi and Kos, following the success at the Acropolis, where they are now offering AR Glasses as well as tablets.
Barcelona recently launched the sleek VR program (see image below) in September 2017, which I introduced to the industry at Seatrade Cruise Europe, the same month. We had already mentioned the use of this technology at previous Seatrade events.
The France & Monaco team are setting a very high standard in new product development – one of the things discussed at a workshop earlier this year.
The UK & Ireland team won the Wave Award earlier this year – congratulations again! There were many highlights and activities going on throughout the region, including the Celebrity President’s Cruise, British Golf Open and Edinburgh Tattoo – one of the greatest visual and musical events in the world.
The team throughout the European region has also been working on new tour formats to capture independent guests, such as city loops – a mix between a shuttle and a tour – and “Local’s recommendations package”, featuring a map and tickets or vouchers for attractions, shops, cafes and restaurants, enabling guests to freely experience the destination like a local at their own pace. They have also been working on increasing allotments and optimizing the operational use of buses.
Global: From a more global perspective our focus has been:
- Local Immersion: Supporting teams to develop authentic experiences where guests can connect with locals and dive into the local way of life, including the local cuisine, traditions and cultural particularities. This is being achieved through our amazing local teams, some of whom were featured in the “Your Local Partners Worldwide” campaign.
- SafeAshore: We worked with an external contractor to develop a system that allows us to monitor the location of the guests and guides during our Shore Excursion programs. SafeAshore was officially launched at Seatrade Cruise Med in September with the port of Marseille, and has been very well received by the industry, with a lot of interest from our clients. We are currently working on the deployment of the system in several additional ports in the Asia and Med regions. Find out more information here.
- IELP – Intercruises eLearning platform: We have been driving this system, including a guide training, which has been completed by over 1,250 guides with an additional 600 in course at the moment, as well as the Shorex Marketing trainings, covering client presentations and digital assets, health & safety, product, operations and destination-specific trainings. In total, more than 3,100 hours of training have been completed and over 3,800 trainees have attended one or multiple courses. All regions have been involved throughout.
- Digital Assets – photos & videos: This is becoming more important and we have now obtained photos for all key destinations in Spain, France & Monaco. These are currently stored in Barcelona, but we are working to implement a DAM System – an online cloud that will be accessible to all regions to access all of Intercruises’ images, anywhere at any time.
- Seatrade: In March, I spoke at Seatrade Cruise Global on Shorex Trends, which was very well received by clients. In September, I addressed the industry at Seatrade Europe in Hamburg and introduced our latest technology efforts by presenting SafeAshore and the new VR tour in Barcelona. Unfortunately, after winning at Seatrade Tenerife 2016, we are exempt from entering the Seatrade Insider Innovative Shorex Award this year, however we will keep this in mind for the 2018 contest!
How are shore excursions evolving? Attention to detail and quality control is more important than ever when developing and delivering shore excursions. Cruise lines are looking into much more detail at the quality of all tour elements – vehicles, guides, venues – and how they can be assessed to identify opportunities to enhance the guest experience and safety. We have always done this at Intercruises and mustn’t lose this focus. We must also continue to innovate and constantly question what innovation means to our clients – as asked in our recent global survey.
What shorex trends have we seen over the last year? It has been a continuation of the year before, but with some core areas of focus:
- Personalization: How we can tailor an experience to individual or groups of guests.
- Local Immersion: Providing guests with the experience of living in the destination. Every time we have won or have been nominated for the Seatrade Innovative Shorex Award, it has been related to local experiences
- Pop-Culture: Attracting the millennials, a younger audience, by looking at what is popular in the world today, as shown with our Game of Thrones article earlier this year
- Exclusivity: Experiences that cannot be replicated by the non-official shorex provider
- Technology: How we can leverage the increasing role of mobiles, tablets and other types of technologies to enhance the guests’ shoreside experience, such as the AR/VR tours
Anything else to add?
I actually want to echo Serafin’s thoughts from his Port Agency Update, in that it’s great to see the growing collaboration and knowledge shared between all regions. Beyond that, I just want to thank all Shorex teams around the world, especially those who have given their time to help us develop some of the global initiatives mentioned above, and to those whom shared their knowledge and time in supporting other regions and colleagues from around the world.