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 improve customer relations, increase efficiency, and propel overall 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 onboard and onshore cruise operations.
Many software proprietors who already offer PMS software for hotels do not realize they have a prime opportunity to also offer SPMS software for ship management. By developing unique modules tailored to meet the needs of cruise line operators and integrating these into existing PMS hotel software, they can provide cruise operators with a complete and powerful SPMS platform that encompasses essential tools, such as a central reservation system, crew, and fleet management software, material management, plus food and beverage management.
Central Reservation Systems for Ship Management
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 to provide the most accurate data regarding availability through internet sales channels. The SPMS provides the complete image of the ship's 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.
SPMS Crew Management Modules
Crew management systems are a crucial tool for supervising onboard 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 monitor 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 pre-screen applicants to ensure the best possible match for the available position. By including a robust crew management system into the SPMS, cruise line operators can help promote high customer satisfaction and retention by ensuring each ship has a quality crew ready to attend to guests' needs.
SPMS Fleet Management
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.
SPMS Inventory Management
Materials management systems are crucial for cruise line operators to gain insights into 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 to procure 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.
No doubt cruise line operations have many moving parts that require continuous monitoring to ensure that passengers are treated to the luxury they expect when embarking on a short term voyage on an ocean liner. Therefore, having a robust, all-inclusive SPMS can provide operators with easy access to important ship management data that can allow the operator to increase efficiencies, reduce overhead, and improve customer satisfaction. Likewise, software proprietors who currently offer hotel property management software should not pass up the opportunity to expand their market by customizing their system to meet the needs of cruise line operators as well.
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