Servicescapes in cruise ship design - Case xpTray design concept

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
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Managing customer experiences has been found an increasingly important practice over the past twenty years. Experiences describe how customers feel about any goods or services, being a way to define their implicit value. Services, in particular, are very engaging when consumed, which accentuates the importance of their surroundings. These servicescapes enable service operations and serve as stimuli themselves, influencing the experience. The cruise industry is an example where customers are provided a comprehensive hedonic service aboard the ship. Cruise lines and shipbuilders strive to develop ships that can provide an attractive setting for individual services and experiences. This study is conducted on the premise of one such product development effort, called the xpTray. A multi-disciplinary team was formed to research and develop the concept of a cruise ship that differs substantially from conventional designs. The purpose of this thesis is to assess the value of the xpTray to the cruise line and passengers and to explore the best options. Firstly, business models are researched in order to discover whether radical innovations are appropriate in the world of the cruise industry. The second research objective is to evaluate the impact of servicescapes: Previous research on customer experience management (CEM) is used as a theoretical basis for evaluating the best options and practices. Thirdly, the best practices are applied to the xpTray design concept in an effort to find out if it proves superior to competition. A product development project, the research works with uncertain information and uses many available methods of empirical research, also relying on ideation. CEM research features several detailed focal points, which are found to have strong linkages in this thesis. It is concluded that servicescapes are a powerful tool for influencing experiences. More specifically, it is proposed that experiential services are created in touch points and managed with personalization. A framework of servicescapes is developed, and it is applicable across industries as a comprehensive tool. The industry's business models lead to conclude that managerial cognition has reinforced a culture favoring sustaining innovation, where the xpTray is a way to convey ideas on improvement. The design improves on layout, design themes, service clues and touch points. Financial analysis tools indicate that modular multi-purpose spaces can improve the ship's internal rate of return by 9.8 percentage points, while service level is maintained with attention to detail in CEM.
customer experience management, servicescapes, business models, cruise industry
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