We recently announced our Health and Safety Maturity Model, a framework of guidelines to help cruise lines and other industries plan their adoption of new policies, procedures, technology and approaches to increase the health and safety of all parties involved. Brands of all kinds will need to rebuild trust with guests and employees in regard to health and safety. Our proposed framework aims to help companies rebuild that trust through transparent communication regarding what measures are being implemented as we endeavor to simultaneously create and adapt to a new normal in a post-COVID-19 world.
Yesterday we spoke about our why — today we tackle the how. In our humble opinion, we must start with some good ole fashioned consulting.
Back to the “Good Ole Fashioned Consulting” — Current State Analysis
What does the industry do NOW to help make cruising safe? I can tell you; they do a ton. That said, we can expose a large list of mitigations and best practices already employed (admittedly, to varying degrees from line to line) and not get my editor and marketing people* grumpy at me for word count by only focusing (for this article) on the embarkation process.
*Editor’s note: they are grumpy, but facts, background and context matter, so here we are.
As you can imagine, embarkation is a big deal. From a timeline perspective, the initial engagement with the guest starts well in advance of the voyage.
From a journey perspective, think of it like this:
During this process, the line collects a robust amount of information about the guests. This prepares both the line and the guests for a smooth, efficient and safe embarkation day. The more work that is done in advance, the better prepared everyone will be, from documentation of various types to preparation for health requirements.
The next phase in the journey is the actual day of embarkation:
As you can see, there are multiple steps and processes in place to protect all involved. A few of them are:
- Health questionnaire
- Medical professionals at the port
- Medical professionals onboard
- Rules for embarkation tied to itinerary
- Clear manifest of guests, crew, and visitors
- Metal detectors and full security
- Terminal entry check with validation of documents
- Gangway check of all allowed to board
- Ability to control flow of arrivals with scheduled arrival times
That is just a brief list of the procedures already in place before cruising. I am not here to trash or attack other social gatherings but just do a quick mental comparison to air travel, rail or even visiting your favorite Vegas casino. The cruise process is unrivaled in this regard.
Admittedly, until the pandemic, the occasional outbreak of norovirus or other pathogen would cause but a blip on the social media radar, but the world has changed and, more importantly, we must look at this as the first in a new class of real threats that our people, process, and technology must be prepared to assist in handling. Furthermore, what we are all faced with is the cold reality that while we are focused on COVID-19 now, a framework for addressing this crisis must be developed with an eye toward the next infectious disease or virus to increase overall health and safety while minimizing risk for all participants. That all being said, either the steps that were in place or the way they were executed were clearly not enough to act as a sufficient gatekeeper.
A change needs to come.
Desired State Analysis
Ideally, the industry would like to be the safest way to travel and vacation on the planet. A good argument could be made that it already was, but the impact of the mismanaged outbreaks and poor communication paired with the previously discussed meme-level antagonism has set the crosshairs on cruise. Regardless of the precipitating factors, the industry needs to assert leadership and drive even further ahead around safety. As called out in the embarkation journey map, we have hinted to a few areas of explicit improvement that our technology can provide. There are many others that can be found and other partners that can assist in various ways.
But a few of the critical points are:
- New procedures (or proposed enhancements)
- Advanced completion of ‘health passport’
- Dynamic health questionnaire
- Digital storage of health questionnaire and responses
- Ability to issue health questionnaires on demand
- Ability to share health questionnaire data with authorities
- Thermographic cameras for temperature scanning
- True, contactless process powered by proximity, location, and facial capabilities
- Dedication of ample room for secondary screening and quarantine if necessary
The areas listed above do not even touch the countless ways we already know shipbuilders, designers and other partners (like HVAC) are innovating and raising the bar around things like social distance, air purification and cleaning protocols. While no business can strictly enforce a handwashing policy, anyone who has sailed with Norwegian can attest to the line’s insistent (and entertaining) “Washy-Washy” song and provision of hand sanitizer. The mitigation methods and approaches will range from the very basic to the extremely complex, but like any good recipe, when the ingredients are combined properly, the result will be spectacular.
As a technology company, our natural bias will always slide toward technology solutions when faced with a problem. That said, technology specifics are not really the point. The point is creating a set of standards that cruise lines (and other businesses) can aspire to (or be mandated to comply with) that re-establish trust; the trust of their crew, their guests and ports of calls they visit as well as the public at large.
The next series in this post will focus on the ‘what now’ and what the next steps are in order to use this model to help create a ‘new normal’ instead of waiting for it to find us. Click here to read the next entry in this series.