Personalizing the Customer Experience at Sea with Advanced Recognition Systems

According to the Cruise Lines International Association 2018 Cruise Industry Outlook (CLIA), 27.2 million passengers are expected to cruise with 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships to launch this year. 2018 is also the year that CLIA predicts a rise in traveler-friendly technology to enhance their customers’ travel experiences.

The question on the minds of progressive cruise line market leaders is how to securely process increasingly larger numbers of passengers while adding more customer ease into the cruise experience. Many in the cruise line industry are considering the use of biometrics technology.

How a Single Unified Biometric Key Creates Seamless Experiences

Biometric Key

Passwords, loyalty cards and other forms of ID are used in every encounter, from shopping at the grocery store to listening to your favorite playlist to boarding a cruise ship. Enterprise leaders are recognizing the amount of information consumers have to carry, either physically or mentally, in order to access personalized experiences. Allen Ganz, Director of Advanced Recognition Solutions at NEC America offers a different take: “Your face is a unified key.”

NEC’s facial recognition solutions, ranked #1 after performance testing by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), identify individual faces of people as they move in real time, without stopping to look at a camera. This technology allows each individual to use their face as a unified biometric key, in many different situations, to create seamless and personalized experiences.

Specific to the cruise line industry, early adopters have found that a unified biometric key can be used for:

  • Biometric Passenger Manifest
  • Cruise Terminal Queue Management
  • Effortless Check-In and Bag Check
  • Frictionless Expedited Embarkation and Debarkation
  • Intelligent Customized Displays
  • Seamless Payment
  • Access Control
  • Data and Video Analytics
  • Command and Control

Cruise Terminal Queues and Check In

Embarkation day can be hectic for the traveler who is ready to get away from it all. The lines to board the ship can be excruciatingly long unless the traveling couple or family has purchased priority embarkation through the cruise line loyalty program. However, this process does not need to be time consuming. With the use of a unified biometric key, the queue to board the ship–even for those travelers who are not VIPs, can be more efficient.

Since the Customs check-in typically slows the process of boarding the ship, travelers can speed this up by self-enrolling in the ship’s system using facial recognition; they simply take a quick selfie using their smartphone, and opt in. Now, with a simple scan of their face, they have created a unique and unified biometric key to also use aboard the ship. Rapid access authentication quickly matches the traveler to the ship’s guest list, enabling the guests to come aboard faster. Onboard, baggage can also be matched to the traveler’s profile using only their face, so they can quickly access their luggage upon arrival or departure.

VIP Treatment

Once passengers have enrolled themselves and created their own unified biometric key, they can now use their face to unlock personalized VIP experiences tailored to their interests and manifest. Using intelligent customized displays, guests will be able to walk up and see their personalized itinerary and other entertainment options. Facial recognition technology can also open guest room doors, and purchase items on the ship through facial payment, creating a simple and frictionless experience. With a system that automatically matches each guest to their individual preferences, all travelers feel welcomed and recognized on a personal level.

Implementing facial recognition can also benefit cruise lines by prompting their staff to enthusiastically welcome loyalty guests and to personalize birthday, anniversary and other special occasion greetings.

Disney and Carnival ships are currently using biometrics to sell their passenger’s vacation photos taken during the cruise. Instead of presenting guests with a card or having, them review the photos on a wall, the system sorts through the photos by matching them to their face, and presents them on a personalized display or through a mobile app.

Read also: The Security Solution is Staring Us in the Face

Frictionless Embarkation and Debarkation

Cruise ships have 2,000 to 4,000 passengers and over 1,000 employees on board, which means embarkation and debarkation at ports may take hours to complete. With the use of an individual’s unified biometric key, passengers and employees are recognized for that particular cruise, which reduces passenger-processing by 40% or more, adding efficiency to the port embarkation and debarkation experience.

The process is simple. When passengers or employees disembark from the ship, their face is scanned using facial recognition, and is matched to the image from the initial enrollment process. Without the need to stop, travelers can exit and re-enter the ship in record time, giving them more time at their port of call. In fact, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Georgia is already relying on facial recognition technology and Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport is also participating in biometric testing with NEC’s NeoFace® Express both with much success.

Improving Safety and Security

Because a unified biometric key is unique to each individual, it can be used to improve the safety and security for everyone on board, ensuring only those persons who should be on the ship are on the ship. Facial recognition can also be used for access control, to allow cruise staff to secure employee-only areas with a scan of their face. Cruise line security can track guests, color-code traveling families, and easily create different settings for particular travelers or families.

NEC: The Leading Facial Recognition Provider

Early adopters in the cruise line industry have already begun using facial recognition to create a positive, effortless experience for their guests. NEC offers the most advanced identification matching technology today. For ten consecutive years, NEC’s facial recognition technology has been awarded first place from the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Some of the standards met during the testing included:

  • Recognizing one individual at a time, as they walked through a crowded area without stopping
  • Detecting suspicious individuals at an indoor stadium
  • Accuracy and speed of matching to photos already in a database

NEC’s NeoFace® Express uses facial recognition to transform the travel experience–or any hospitality experience that involves large groups of people. The system interfaces with on-board video systems for easy integration. Adding facial recognition and other biometric technology allows cruise lines to offer a first-class journey with security, frictionless access, and to give passengers a personalized experience using a simple, unified biometric key.

Ready to learn more? Fill out the form below for a simple consultation with one of our biometric subject matter experts or visit us online to for more information on our biometric solutions.

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Coming to a Terminal and Airport Near You…

In a nationally televised report, NBC National News covered its initial rollout!

US Customs and Border Protection has now installed it in eight airports and written extensively about its benefits!

Touting a “year of innovation,” Delta Airlines has them in their Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport VIP lounge in Atlanta and using them for ticketless boarding!

What is it? It is NEC’s NeoFace® Express and you can see it in action in this short video.

The need for greater security in crowded, public places is changing the way businesses are engaging with customers. That’s true whether it’s an airport, stadium, cruise line or a border security check. At these, and many other high-traffic sites, the goals are the same – quickly and accurately verify the customer’s identity and provide the necessary service.

As with many of NEC’s solutions, NeoFace® Express has patented technology that allows for the capture of the best facial image for processing while providing these additional unique features and values:

  • Efficiency – measuring the time spent interacting with the station
  • Satisfaction – measuring how satisfied the user is after use of the station
  • Acquisition Rate –  measuring the success of image acquisition; and
  • Accuracy – measuring the true identification rates

NeoFace Express is a key component of NEC’s single, unified biometrics key solution that provides a secure, frictionless and personalized customer experience. With a simple scan of the face, a unified key is created that allows consumers to enjoy fast, easy access to areas such as; airport lounges, theme park attractions and sporting events, while business and government agencies benefit by improving operating efficiencies and heightened security.

Traveling soon? Going to a game? Visiting a theme park? Look for the NEC’s NeoFace Express soon at these and more sites near you.
For additional information and to stay up on the latest, follow us on Twitter and check out our NEC Advanced Recognition Systems page.

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