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Jan 25, 2019 | 2 minute read

Vision to frictionless reality: How Carnival created a smart city on the water

written by Kristin Schepici

For John Padgett, Chief Experience Innovation Officer at Carnival Corporation, transforming customer experiences with technology is nothing new. Before joining Carnival, he was a key player in the technology development and success of Disney’s MyMagic+. Creating frictionless experiences with wearable technology.

“When we decided to create a frictionless guest experience, the discussion was not actually around the technology itself. It was around the value of creating a frictionless experience and what that meant about how to reengineer and rethink the touchpoints,” said Padgett during a podcast with Roger Dooley

So, when Carnival wanted to create the ultimate vacation experience aboard their ships, they placed their guests at the center of the experience design and improved the convergence among the physical and digital worlds into a seamless experience.

Rethinking the touchpoints and how to incorporate emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), bots, and wearables, meant they needed a headless commerce platform.

For companies like Carnival with multifaceted content and individualistic customer requirements, headless commerce can deliver consistent, personalized, and innovative customer experiences fast.  

“Each guest is different and the things that make them happy are different,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation to CES Tech.

Why Go Headless 

The main notion behind the headless commerce concept is to separate the presentation layer which customers interact with from the backend layer with all the business logic and infrastructure and connect the two via a flexible API.  

Traditional monolithic commerce solutions force brands to adopt their capabilities across the ship, thus mandating that the business match the solution. As opposed to more flexible offerings with an API-based/headless solution that allows brands to apply best of breed capabilities that match the system to the business needs and in this case the guest expectations. 

The benefits: Brands like Carnival, who want to deliver guest-centric experiences are not tied to what their legacy commerce platform allows them to do. They do not have to stick to the rules of a UI logic which are designed to produce a standardized web experience. Instead, they are entirely flexible regarding content delivery, UX and multiple technology touchpoints. 

The Regal Princess cruise ship and the Carnival Corporation are able to continue to revolutionize the travel industry with their guest-centric strategy by employing a headless commerce solution. A backend platform solution that enables emerging and upcoming consumption channels to be added in; and a platform their fleet staff can easily interact with converging the digital and physical channels onboard.

Carnival was recognized as a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree for OceanMedallion™ at CES 2019 in Las Vegas where just two short years prior they first announced the launch of OceanMedallion™.

For more on Carnival’s digital transformation/guest-centric experience, check out our video interview with Padgett.