Cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) may soon be aboard cruise ships, according to Hannes Lindthaler, managing director of MarineXchange Software, offering the MXP enterprise software platform for the cruise industry.
Celebrating MarineXchange’s 20th anniversary this year, the company has played a key role in developing software written specifically for the industry, with a portfolio of software and hardware solutions, managing all office and ship related activities.
Today, MarineXchange has offices in Hamburg and Graz, Austria, and has more than 60 employees. The client list counts some 40 cruise lines and approximately 300 ships, including ocean-going ships and river cruise vessels.
“We are working very closely with Microsoft to bring cloud computing onboard ships next,” Lindthaler said. “It is called on-premises cloud (solutions for ships), and it does not exist today.
“Cloud computing is the next revolution; it brings a whole new wave of opportunities and possibilities. You can have the same software running on the ships and ashore.”
Also in the works is the application of artificial intelligence (AI) technology aboard ships. Working with an Austrian company, the Know-Center (describing itself as a leading European research center on data-driven business and artificial intelligence), Lindthaler said he is focusing on two different projects: sales recommendations and supply chain forecasting.
For the cruise customer, the software will be able to make meaningful recommendations in terms of shore excursions, for example, before they take a cruise. This serves two purposes, he said: it generates revenue and helps making the booking stick. Guests who purchase shore excursions before making their final payment are less likely to cancel the cruise.
“What is important is to make relevant recommendations based on the customers’ history that is stored and interpreted by the software. The self-learning engine takes into consideration the guest profile, nationality, gender, age, if they travel with extended family, friends, where they are sailing; it looks at many data points before making recommendations.”
For the supply chain, the AI engine can find correlations between cruise lengths, weather, deployment and special occasions, according to Lindthaler.
“Our current system can handle all of this,” he said, “but requires more data maintenance and also experienced provision masters. With the growth of the industry, there is a shortage of experienced crew, however, and this is where the technology can help. Sailing seven days out of Miami, it is not very difficult, but for global deployment, accurate forecasting becomes more of a challenge.”
MXP was also the first software provider to provide mobile solutions custom-designed for cruise ships ranging from POS to check-in, housekeeping, hotel maintenance, and much more.
When TUI and AIDA returned to service last year, they were able to do so with software developed by MarineXchange. MXP Protect was launched last May and provides a host of functions to fight COVID-19 and increase s afety onboard for guests and crew, while increasing operating efficiencies and thus lowering costs, according to Lindthaler.
Altogether, MarineXchange offers more than 50 different software modules. Said Lindthaler: “We offer an enterprise solution, all the solutions are within one system, that’s a dream come true.”