Partnering with Carnival Corporation to reimagine software across 100 cruise ships
Carnival Corporation’s hospitality and travel brands offer best-in-class service and amenities, including its onboard casino gaming experience. But one element was hindering the guest experience and business performance for the casino: a frustrating user interface on the slot machines. Hard to find tournament functions and an overall lack of awareness about the machine’s features were obstacles for first-time players.
Our team partnered with Carnival Corporation and its casino operations team to deliver upgraded software that would be used by about 12 million guests on over 100 cruise ships. Drawing inspiration from visits to world-class casinos, the Tesla interface, and even ATM interface design, our team worked to reimagine how guests interact with the slot machine interface.
Research and guest interaction
We traveled on two research trips with Carnival Corporation staff to immerse ourselves in the guest experience. From our time on Carnival’s Mardi Gras and Holland America Line’s Zaandam, we participated in over 100 hours of direct user research. Our investigative approach included first-hand game play, guest observation, one-to-one guest interviews with players of all skill levels, and direct engagement with many shipboard staff members.
Delivering excellent customer service is a hallmark of Carnival Corporation. We approached our guest research with the same care and attention as Carnival Corporation staff would: with utmost respect, empathy, and active listening. Not only did this build trust with the guests we met but it also quickly brought the Launch and Carnival Corporation teams together as we developed a shared philosophy on human interactions and experiences.
Frictionless and intuitive
From our research, we quickly learned the pain points of the current experience, the baseline of guest acceptance, and the opportunity space to innovate. We rounded out our research with competitive and non-competitive landscape analysis to get a full understanding of touchscreen-based experiences and best practices in the slot machine space and the competitive landscape of touchscreen experiences.
Our design team drew inspiration from research trips to the Casino de Montréal and Encore Boston Harbor and ATM and Tesla interface designs. Marrying research with design best practices, we created an improved user journey that smoothed out points of confusion and vastly reduced the time for user onboarding.
The underlying slot machine hardware was one of the key constraints. While we could control the look, feel, and sequence of panels that guests encountered, there were hardcoded limitations from the slot machine hardware vendor. Our iterative approach to solving for technical constraints and lack of hardware support mitigated the risks to the overall guest experience. Our engineering team was able to find innovative and creative solutions that pushed the edges of what’s possible while keeping our intuitive interface clear and simple to understand.
Hitting the jackpot
We delivered on time and on scope, and achieved a new class of product we lightly refer to as “shipware.” Quality measures were conducted in the Carnival Corporation lab in Miami, utilizing a variety of slot machines each with different resolution, screen size, and feature ability. The programming will be deployed directly to Carnival Corporation’s infrastructure and accompanied by an incredibly robust design component library and design documentation to support future evolutions and brand variability.