When we talk about mobile business-to-consumer interaction, we tend to focus on payments. But mobile is a powerful channel for businesses to interact with customers throughout their lifecycle: from marketing and building awareness to sales transactions to engagement, all the way through gathering feedback and other customer data.

Norwegian Cruise Lines is setting a great example. Its suite of mobile apps (available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows7) helps people find and book cruises, get deals, make the most of their cruise while onboard, and start thinking about the next cruise as soon as they get back home.

The Cruise Norwegian app lets would-be cruisers check out destinations and ships with maps, floor plans, photos and videos. It’s essentially a marketing app with a booking engine for managing sales (plus a few extras) that takes people through the first two stages of the customer lifecycle.

The extras belong in the next stage: engagement. As soon as you reserve your spot on a cruise, the countdown clock reminds you how long ‘til your holiday starts. Weather alerts let you know what to expect. FAQs help you prepare and pack your bags.

The second app is the Big Kahuna in the group: Norwegian iConcierge. Like its name suggests, it helps passengers ensure they spend their cruise doing exactly what they want. It includes information and a reservation system for shore excursions, onboard entertainment, and the ship’s restaurants. Check out what’s available, and book what looks good. It’s also the way to learn general onboarding info about how everything works, where everything is (shopping, spa), and how to cash in on your rewards points.

For a little extra, you can turn on WiFi-based text and voice services, so you can keep in touch with friends and family both on the ship (for a one-time fee) and off (for a per-minute rate).

A third app, Norwegian Puzzles, keep you occupied while you’re lounging on the pool deck, on the way home, or wanting to remind yourself how much fun you had once you’re back to reality. The fourth and final app, Flash Deals, publishes limited-time offers on select cruises for those ready to jump when they see a bargain.

So the only phase Norwegian is missing is the final one: gathering feedback, and using that to improve the business on all fronts. No doubt that piece is coming soon.

Norwegian has been a technology pioneer, offering several firsts in Internet, WiFi, and phone service at sea, so it’s not a surprise the company is leading the industry with its approach to mobile. Other cruise lines (Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, Disney, Carnival and Celebrity) are playing catch-up.

Beyond cruise ships, the travel industry in general is starting to look to mobility to improve experiences for customers from first booking to next booking, and keep them engaged throughout. This frequent traveller is looking forward being able to do more, and get more, via mobile.

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