MSC Cruises revealed lst month that its digital personal assistant will be named – Zoe.
MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato made the announcement at the 12th annual CLIA Conference 2018 held in Southampton at which he was a keynote speaker.
Southampton is also where MSC Cruises will christen ‘MSC Bellissima’, the ship on which this innovative tool will first be available.
His talk was about the significance of technology in the cruise industry and this latest innovation demonstrates how MSC Cruises is employing the next-generation technology to create a connected cruise experience that puts the guest in control of their cruise, tailoring the way they receive information to their individual needs.
Onorato said: “As a family-owned company with over 300 years of seafaring heritage, it is a maritime tradition to involve the female members of the family in key events and developments. Zoe is a family name, as well as being a name that is internationally recognised and easy to pronounce no matter what language a guest speaks. Choosing a family name was a way to combine tradition with our continued focus on innovation.”
The introduction of the ‘digital personal assistant’ marks a new phase in MSC Cruises’ digital innovation programme ‘MSC For Me’, which was first introduced in 2017 with the launch of ‘MSC Meraviglia’.
This connected cruise experience is also now available on ‘MSC Seaside’, ‘MSC Splendida’ with a special adaptation for Asia, and will be introduced on ‘MSC Seaview’ when the latest flagship comes into service this week.
Zoe is being developed in partnership with HARMAN International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, an expert in voice-enabled technology having developed audio solutions for technology leaders, such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
This new collaboration is a result of the long-standing relationship between MSC Cruises and Samsung.
A bespoke device is being designed specifically for use in the staterooms on board and will be available in seven languages – English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Brazilian Portuguese and Mandarin.
Its primary objective is to provide the guest with a simple and stress-free way to gain information that is normally sought in person at the Guest Relations desk. This way guests can find the information without having to leave their stateroom.
As with all of the technology on board, this is not designed to replace human interaction between crew and guest, but rather complement it by answering frequently asked questions and therefore allowing crew to further focus on a more personalised specific support, MSC said.
Onorato also revealed that the next innovations to be introduced will include a more personalised one-to-one customer engagement powered by artificial intelligence (AI) & machine learning, smart cabin, of which the digital assistant is the first step, as well as robotic entertainment.
Technology is constantly evolving and MSC Cruises has a dedicated Business Innovation Team that works with experts, such as Samsung, HPE-Aruba, Deloitte Digital and more recently HARMAN International, to ensure that the very latest innovations are developed to serve the needs of the cruise guest of the future.
In another move, MSC Cruises USA has appointed Lori Sheller as senior vice president of strategic sales and groups, a new position for the company.
She took up office on 4th June.
As MSC Cruises significantly grows its presence in North America – including plans for ‘MSC Seaside’, ‘MSC Divina’ and ‘MSC Armonia’ to serve the market by the end of 2018 and the addition of ‘MSC Meraviglia’ in Autumn 2019 – Sheller will be responsible for strategically enhancing the relationships MSC Cruises holds with the industry’s largest travel consortia and key strategic accounts, the company said.