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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Isn't it about time cruise ships started offering free Wi-Fi?

Internet access on a cruise ship has always been expensive and people are, by and large, used to this I think. Most people realise that if they want to stay in touch they'll have to pay a lot for it and accept the fact that it will run slowly. I always accepted this as part of the course myself.
But.................
Working in an online environment for the last few months has given me a very different perspective on it and I think it's about time cruise lines started providing free internet access for all guests.

Do I think they should do this just to be nice? Nope.
Do I think they should do this for the great customer service? Nope.
Do I think they should do this just to be different to their competitors? Nope
Do I think they should do this for the publicity? Well, sort of..........

Cruise lines are woefully behind the times when it comes to social media. Most cruise line reps I speak to don't even know what the word trending means; which in this day and age is just unacceptable for any industry!

Yes providing free internet access on their ships would cost a lot of money - I accept that. (For anyone who doesn't know, all internet on a ship, when it's at sea, is run through the ships satellite which is very expensive to operate).
Yes upgrading this technology so hundreds if not thousands of people can use it at once would also be expensive but compare that to the very clear and obvious benefits............

How many people have Facebook or Twitter on their phones these days?
Can you imagine the flood of publicity that would be generated for the cruise lines if they allowed free internet onboard? To start with how many photos of their ships would flood social media sites as people updated the folks back home? Which for a lot of people would be on on a nearly hourly basis. What they're eating, what they're doing, what they're drinking - I know I'd be guilty of this with unlimited, fast internet streaming!
It really wouldn't even be that hard for the cruise lines to make sure they were tagged in all these photos. How easy would it be for them to set up a #hashtag for each of their ships to get them trending all over the social sites? Bear in mind that cruising is a feel feel good product that people would want to share!

Of course the flip side to this is that any problem, either real or imagined, would trend over the world ridiculously quickly as well but if the cruise lines are truly confident in their product and if they had someone onboard monitoring the social sites that too could work in their favour as they'd be seen to be responding instantly, (one would hope).

What do you think? Are the cruise lines missing a trick here?
Should they be offering free internet for the tremendous advertising boost it would give them?
Or is this an idea that's still a bit ahead of it's time?
Let me know what you think!

Happy cruising, (hopefully with free internet access soon!)