As cruise ships increase in size to accommodate more passengers and amenities, cruise operators are employing the use of powerful Ship Property Management Systems (SPMS) to propel operations. Similar in function to hotel PMSs the SPMS is a central database and information aggregate from the latitudinous range of software that is leveraged to manage and streamline on-board and onshore operations. Software proprietors have a prime opportunity to offer SPMS software by tailoring existing PMS software or developing unique modules to be integrated in that specifically target the needs of cruise line operators. A complete and powerful SPMS platform encompasses a central reservation system, crew and fleet management software, material management, plus food and beverage management.
Central Reservation Systems
A primary concern for cruise ship operators is attracting new guests. Operators deploy Central Reservation Systems (CRS) to manage and distribute vacancies and rates to reservation agents. It is of high importance to integrate the CRS with the SPMS because this allows cruise lines provide the most accurate data regarding availability through internet sales channels. The SPMS provides the complete image of the ships inventory and reduces the labor involved in publishing rates to their own websites, Global Distribution Systems (GDS), and online portals. These integrations streamline the reservation process by providing real-time cabin availability across multiple sales channels.
Crew management systems are a crucial tool for supervising on-board and land-based operations. Human Capital Management (HCM) modules such as those for time and attendance, leave management, scheduling, and workflow management helps cruise operators monitor and manage crew members remotely. In addition to managing existing crew members, the platform can also incorporate modules that monitors existing crew levels and automatically publishes job listings on applicable websites when crew levels fall below a preset acceptable threshold. These modules can also include features that prescreen applicants to ensure the best possible match for the available position. By including a robust crew management system into the SMPS, cruise line operators can help promote high customer satisfaction and retention by ensuring each ship has a quality crew ready to attend to guest needs.
Fleet Management Systems (FMS) are an effective instrument used for land-based managers to view essential operational data. A solid fleet management software is interfaced with the onboard marine electronics and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which uses satellites to triangulate the location of the ship. GPS and other marine data should be integrated with the fleet management platform to view crucial metrics including course, speed, and the status of ship mechanics. Using a telematics system allows the ships location and situational data to be monitored remotely by multiple agencies including the cruise line operator and the U.S. Coast Guard. All the information should be able to be viewed on real-time dashboards or stored in a database to be used for business intelligence and report generation modules. With the analytics information given from FMS, fleet managers can use the insights to gain and compare insights from multiple vessels to plan safe, efficient routes and save money on fuel.
Materials and F&B Management
Materials management systems are an important module for cruise line operators to gain insights into a fleet wide inventory down to individual vessels. Inventory management systems for each ship should be integrated into the SPMS to offer real-time insights into stock counts and offer procuring strategy efficiencies. For the highest efficiency, the inventory management systems must include forecasting modules that rely on data from existing stock monitoring platforms and point of sale systems. This data can be used to automate inventory replenishment by generating restocking numbers from real-time and historical data to give accurate numbers for restocking at docking. The program automatically generates Economic Order Quantities (EOQ) of units a vessel should add to stock for the next voyage. To further ensure that meal orders and prepared stock do not fall victim to shortages and depletions, F&B specific modules such as recipe management, weight calculations, menu scheduling and waste tracking should be integrated into the inventory management system.
Cruise line operations have many moving parts that require continuous monitoring to ensure the passengers are treated to the luxury they expect when embarking on a short term voyage on an ocean liner. A robust, all inclusive SPMS can provide operators with easy access to important ship data that can allow the operator to increase efficiencies, reduce overhead, and improve customer satisfaction.
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