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Royal Caribbean’s VP of Digital Marketing Shares How He Plans to Take Us into the Future

How often does one get to say they’ve found their dream job? I’m Jeff DeKorte, the Vice President of Digital Marketing at Royal Caribbean International and I’m thrilled to be able to say that.

I joined Royal Caribbean in January to lead the company’s digital transformation – which is a rather self-important way to say I’m here to help the company use digital technology (the Internet, mobile devices, social media, etc.) to give our customers the best possible vacation experiences.

I started my career in online travel in 1996 as the fledgling eCommerce department at US Airways was being assembled. It was just a few years after the Internet was invented (thank you, Mr. Gore) and the travel industry was moving quickly to use this new medium to empower travelers and improve their experience.

At first, it was all about providing brochure information via the World Wide Web. In the years since, my career took me through such well-known brands as AOL and Rand McNally where we used technology to provide travelers with access to the tools and services to plan, book and enjoy their travel. We built frequent traveler web sites, online booking engines, self-service airport kiosks and fare search sites. With the launch of each new product, travelers gained more and more control over their travel purchasing.

With the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter in recent years, travelers now use the Internet to do more than just plan. There are full-blown conversations happening online, including:

  • Using Twitter to ask a cruise line questions about an upcoming vacation.
  • “Checking in” with Foursquare to find out who else is nearby.
  • Sharing photos and updates on Facebook so friends and family can join in on the fun, albeit virtually.

All of the innovation of the past twenty years has completely transformed the way we experience travel and share our stories. We’ve come a long way from waiting months after the vacation for photos or slides to be developed.

And, that’s why I signed on at Royal Caribbean, an innovator both on sea and online. For 42 years, Royal Caribbean has been a leader in launching ground-breaking cruise ships. From the first ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls and FlowRider to building the two largest passenger ships afloat, the leadership at the company has always been willing to make the investment to ensure our customers have the most exciting, unexpected and safest vacations possible. And, the same goes in the digital arena as well.

We recently announced the addition of iPads to every stateroom on Splendor of the Seas and other Vision Class ships. Oasis and Allure have amazing digital boards throughout the ship that make it easy for you to do everything from find your stateroom to see what activities are taking place. On Oasis and Allure, we are also offering guests the Royal Connect, iPhone-based location and communication devices. And, we have many, many more innovations in the works.

The first order of business is to make sure the site you rely on to plan your cruise vacations and manage your Crown and Anchor Society membership is easy to use, always available and serving your needs. We’ll be making a number of significant improvements to the site over the coming months. Some of them you may not see. If we do our jobs right you won’t even notice. And, some will take us leaps and bounds ahead.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your suggestions and advice for improving our digital experience.

 

34 responses to:
“Royal Caribbean’s VP of Digital Marketing Shares How He Plans to Take Us into the Future”

  1. Darren Braz

    I would love it if you guys could lower broadband prices somehow on the cruise ships, it’d be amazing to be able to use our phones or skype while we’re abroad without paying a gajillion dollars

    • Adam

      Thank you for your suggestion, Darren.

      • Harry Hindle

        Yes I agree
        As a Diamond Plus member who gets some Internet free.
        It would be better if I dare say for the future, that all the Internet to be free on board
        As what major Hotels are doing now for its repeat customers
        There are only a small number of people that spend a lot time on the Internet.
        We are cruising because we love the ship,people,crew and fun times we have
        Thanks Capt.Harry

        • Adam

          We appreciate your input, Harry.

  2. Bill

    Jeff,

    As a current graduate student working towards a degree in integrated marketing communications and follower of Mr. Goldstein’s blog, and with a pretty big semester-long project related to Royal Caribbean due in the next three weeks, I really appreciate you sharing this information.

    One question I did have, which you may or may not be able to answer, is related to available WiFi on-board ships. I’ve no doubt RC has technological hurdles to overcome in providing it, but I would hope cruise ships will eventually provide it for free. I recently took a brief offshore jaunt with a competitor who was charging nearly $25/hour for access. Having WiFi available, or at least having free-to-use WiFi hotspots, might also enable some of the ubiquity of social sharing we have all become so accustomed to on land as well.

    Thank you again.

    – Bill

    • Adam

      We appreciate your feedback, Bill. Good luck with your project.

  3. Michele Payment

    It seems all the new and modernized ships depart from the state of Florida. My husband and I are Crown and Anchor members, and prefer to sail out of Port Liberty – Bayonne, NJ as this port is easier to drive to from Syracuse, NY where we live. We are planning a cruise Feb, 2013 with some friends and wonder if you are planning on updating/modernizing any of the ships that depart from this port of departure?

    thanks

    • Adam

      Hi Michele, please refer to our Royal Advantage page for any future announcements regarding ship enhancements.

  4. Rob

    I have always thought it would be nice if you could publish the compasses electronically a month or two before the cruise to aid in making dinner and entertainment reservations. I understand that things change, but it would at least be a good outline for the cruise. Additionally, I find myself entering a lot of the compass into my iPhone calendar, so that I don’t miss anything. It would be great if you could somehow make a calendar file for the cruise that could be downloaded to the phone. Thanks.

    • Adam

      We appreciate your input, Rob. Thanks for your comment.

      • Harry Hindle

        Adam
        I totally agree with Rob’s comment about the Compass before we sail.
        I have been on many of your ships and wish I had known before I sailed of the activities, so I coil have come a little better prepared with some fun gear, as I join in on most of the games on board like the ‘The Quest’ etc.
        Thanks

        • Adam

          Thanks again for your comments, Harry.

  5. velma j luttrell

    I had a problem with the customer service at the end of our cruise last november on the Oaises.
    after coming home and 3 E-Mails later I finally got them to go over my bill, since I was charged for luggage
    for South West Airlines., and items i had bought on board.. they would not subtract items from our credit,( credits we got for bringing 5 new people with us ) said i bought them to late . the items were purched in the afternoon before we got back in port. the next day…..

    so right now I have not made up my mind about cruising with u all.

  6. Mike

    I love the touch screen information boards available on the ships. It would be nice to access this information on wifi devices but not necessarily have Internet access. Very green idea.

    • Adam

      We’re happy to hear you like our signage, Mike. We’ll take your suggestion into consideration.

      • Eric

        I would like to second this idea- it seems as if it would be a pretty neat app for mobile devices on board. Start with a e-Compass, then add location services, and then slowly add the very, very neat features that the Oasis and Allure have on their digital boards.

        One additional feature- person to person contact while on board. Even just texting would be useful.

        Again, this is just for on board, and would not require external internet access. This is a vacation, afterall….

        • Adam

          Thank you for your input, Eric.

  7. Sam

    Please upgrade your satalite services so the wireless and imported TV such ad Skysports runs alot smoother.

    thanks

  8. Dan Savard

    I would love to see an app for mobile devices. Sometimes I need a quick escape and a RCCL fantasy app would be a great distraction.

    • Adam

      We’ll see what the future holds, Dan. We appreciate your comment.

  9. Paul Cameron

    When is the “Voyager of the Seas” getting it’s refurb???
    We are sailing 9th March 2013 and are concerned over some reviews that the ship is showing signs of “wear and Tear”!

    • Adam

      Hi Paul, please check out our Royal Advantage page for any and all upcoming ship enhancements. Thank you.

  10. Margaret Hickey

    The “Crown and Anchor” site is quite difficult to navigate thru, from the My Cruises site.. I tried to add first time cruisers to my a/c, as I am taking two first timers from Honolulu to Sydney in Sept.. I was NOT able to do it, so the lovely lady at royal website kindly fixed it for me.. She even said she had to contact the home office, as it was so hard to do?? Just a suggestion that this site could be made a bit more “user friendly” especially for us not so young computer people.. Looking forward to my 40th wedding anniversary onboard the Rhapsody in Sept, cannot wait, so excited.Thanks RC.

    • Adam

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Margaret. And we can’t wait to have you onboard this September. Congratulations and we will see you onboard soon.

  11. Donna

    We travel every year on R/C but we have never been able to use our wireless computers on board and the computers in the work areas are so slow we laugh about the price because it can cost you $20 to receive an e-mail. I own a business so its great to go on vacation but we still need a contact point and the ship does not offer us that. We normally find a web sport off ship to check into office by web, This would be so much nicer to be able to do this on the ship and not while at port. Other cruise lines offer this for free but we really like R/C so I have not made the change. I really hoping that R/C can catch up to others. thank you

    • Adam

      We appreciate your feedback, Donna. Thank you.

  12. Russ

    What does people having internet access on the ship have to do with “Royal Caribbean’s VP of Digital Marketing Shares How He Plans to Take Us into the Future”? He takes care of the website and such. Sheesh!! People are always trying to get free things? I think cruises are priced well already (for the most part). You tell me where I can get all of the activities, food and a room for $500 a week. Ain’t gunna happen. I’m all about technology but damn!! When I’m on vacation the furthest thing from my mind is to post something on facebook about how much and what I ate for a snack at midnight. People really don’t care. Show your kids that the internet is NOT that important while you’re on vacation. I understand that people need to work and stuff. Since your jobs are SO important, I think you can afford the internet access.

  13. Erin

    My one suggestion would be to have the daily Cruise Compass available to view on your mobile phone. Many times, my family used our phones to check the time (or play a game of Angry Birds while waiting for Bingo!), and it would be nice to have the Cruise Compass available too. I know that Royal Caribbean already has a mobile app. Maybe it would be just a simple code to enter within the app to have access?

    Regardless, it’s still very exciting to see the new innovations that are coming to the ships! I look forward to reading about many more. :)

    • Adam

      Thank you for your feedback, Erin. We’ll be sure to take your suggestion into account.

  14. Graham

    Jeff.

    My first cruise with RC was on Oasis and the bar was set very high. The use of technology was great, even my wife who is directionally challenged could find her way around such a large ship however, the WiFi internet access was high.

    I am pleased to see that your first order of business is Crown and Anchor Society and I hope this includes access to my reservations. It is unacceptable that my reservation are taken offline for updates especially on weekends when I have the most time to access these reservation!

    May I also make a further suggestion. Please send out emails when a reservation has become open for entertainment, excursions or restaurant packages etc.

    Looking forward to seeing positive changes.
    Thanks

    • Adam

      Thank you for your feedback, Graham.

  15. Scott Staub

    Congratulations to Jeff DeKorte, on his appointment as VP of Digital Marketing. It couldn’t come at a better time and I especially would like to have an opportunity to discuss my ideas that I feel would create an incredible opportunity for C & A members and new customers to visually experience the unique beauty of your ships through the use of my 360 degree panoramic scenes. As a shareholder, I visited Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Fain at last year’s shareholders meeting and showed them first-hand how I was able to create some high definition panoramic photos while I was a paying guest on the Oasis of the Seas. I’ve included a link to allow you to see my example. At that time, both Mr. Fain and Mr. Goldstein expressed their personal delight in seeing them while supporting my follow up with the marketing department. Maybe we were ahead of our time, but there was no follow up from RCCL after that initial meeting. I would appreciate an opportunity to meet and show you how the 360iTours panoramic photos can not only enhance your website, but also add so much more to your mobile app. All of our panoramic images can be seen on mobile devices and especially on iPad and iPhone devices, where the viewer will “feel like you are there”. All of our scenes can be shared via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Jeff, I am planning on being in Miami later this month and would ask that you follow up so we could have a short meeting. In the meantime, please look at this link, http://tourwrist.com/tours/19257, to view an example. Our technology partner is Tour Wrist, based out of Tampa, Florida and we at 360itours, provide the content and management of the accounts. My website is http://www.360iTours.com and my personal cell phone is 619-997-5009.
    Again, congratulations on your appointment and I hope I can assist you in making significant inroads to improving RCCL digital and social marketing.

  16. adrienne sacco

    Scott Staub’s 360 degree tours ARE fabulous!! I would definately consider this for the RCCL website.

    My suggestion for the deck plans is to label all common areas…often there will be a label like “Dazzles” but no explanation of what this is or who is is for (children or adults).

    I would also like walkie talkies available for adults (ie: husbands and wives). My understanding is that these are only for families with kids. As a spouse whose husband has trouble walking…it would be nice to tell him where I was or where to meet.

    Can’t wait to see the new ship plans!!

    • Adam

      We appreciate your suggestions, Adrienne.

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