MSC Cruises has publicly demonstrated its digital personal cruise assistant for the first time and promised training travel agents on the technology is “at the top of our agenda”.
The voice-activated beacon, known as Zoe and developed in partnership with Harman and Samsung Electronics, has been created to provide "personalised service" to guests in their cabins and trained to answer more than 800 questions.
It will launch onboard MSC Bellissima next month.
At a reveal event in London last night (January 31), MSC Cruises’ chief executive Gianni Onorato and Luca Pronzati, chief business innovation officer, showed off the gadget to media and trade partners with a series of conversations and tasks.
As part of Zoe’s technology, powered by artificial intelligence, the system is able to add to its information database and answer previously unanswerable questions.
More than 30 different international accents were analysed during its development along with 3,000 tests as part of its "proof of concept phase".
Each Zoe beacon will be tailored to the specific ship of the MSC fleet it is enabled onboard, with Onorato explaining how the line’s “smart ships”, from MSC Meraviglia and newer, could be adapted to feature Zoe.
He also suggested later iterations of Zoe could be used to report in-cabin maintenance problems, announce onboard entertainment and activities and measure guest satisfaction during a cruise.
Pronzati also revealed MSC would next look to feature Zoe on smartphones and on its website.
When asked by TTG how the line would train travel agents to understand and promote Zoe to customers, Antonio Paradiso, managing director UK and Ireland, said trade toolkits would be sent out and the line’s sales team would put Zoe "at the top of our agenda" for in-store training.
He later told TTG he wanted to host a series of demonstration events for trade partners later in the year after the christening of Bellissima in Southampton.
“A lot of agent training will take place after Bellissima launches as we want to help as many agents as possible educate their customers before they step onboard," he said.
When asked if he thought Zoe technology would be adopted by rival lines, Onorato said he believed it would.
“Zoe will be on lots of ships. It will be our Zoe but perhaps wearing a different dress but it will certainly be the same concept,” he said.