Costa Cruises – one of 10 brands from Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest leisure travel company – has announced the launch of a new WeChat Mini Program onboard Costa Asia's industry-leading fleet in China. With WeChat, a leading online social communication platform in China, Chinese guests will be able to enjoy hassle-free mobile payment and enhanced onboard experiences, starting September 2 onboard Costa Atlantica.
WeChat (also known as Weixin in China) is an integrated lifestyle-changing platform for instant messaging, commerce and payment services from Tencent Holdings Limited, a leading provider of Internet value added services in China. As of second quarter 2017, there were over 963 million monthly active users on WeChat and Weixin.
Representing a first in the global cruise industry, Costa Cruises launched the first Mini Program to book and pay for a cruise itinerary on the WeChat platform on August 8. The Mini Program is the innovative feature that allows WeChat users to instantly open and access services inside WeChat without having to download the full standalone mobile app, providing a faster and better user experience. The latest announcement features an enhancement of the WeChat Mini Program to also include onboard entertainment booking and payment, among other functions. With the new WeChat Mini Program, guests will be able to browse and book specialty restaurants, spa, duty-free shopping and other onboard services through complimentary intranet service, without subscribing to onboard internet services.
"As a pioneer in the Chinese cruise industry, Costa Cruises constantly innovates to enhance the guest experience," said Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Group Asia. "With China being one of the world's leaders in mobile and digital advancements, we see great potential in leveraging WeChat's leading position and technologies to not only facilitate hassle-free payment, but also provide a more immersive and digitized onboard experience for our guests.”
As the brand that brought cruising to China in 2006 and the leader in the Chinese cruise market today, Costa Cruises operates year-round in China and has provided cruise vacations for over two million Chinese guests with differentiated products, including its popular “Italy at Sea” offering, through four ships based across North, East and South China. Costa Cruises, along with Carnival Corporation, will continue to maintain its leadership in developing a healthy eco-system in the Chinese cruise industry.