Written by: Cristina García
All companies in the market for maritime transport of passengers and ferries are gradually making their digital transformation; it is only a matter of time every single one of them is competing for customers on the Internet. Do you really want to be the last one?
In a very competitive sector such as ferry transport service in the Mediterranean area, taking the lead can be decisive. For now, few companies, if not the most important ones, have a sufficiently developed website to attract, convert and close a sales opportunity. However, going through this step is essential, even for the smallest companies.
And it is not just about having a nice website presenting the different routes proposed. Here we are talking about using your website as an entire and fully customized sales platform in order to attract, convert, close and delight your customers. That, is a website capable of hosting the most recent online strategies to boost your bookings.
¿How? By differentiating your services. By positioning what you offer.
First, we can differentiate two services that ferry companies can provide: boat excursions and/or regular lines. Concerning boat trips, the objective is to sell directly through your website, which gives you more control on your distribution channel. And this also means having your own booking engine. Regarding regular lines, what´s important is to be technologically independent. In other words, avoid as much as possible tour operators.
When a ferry company decides to organize excursions around an island or to visit some wonderful beaches, it is preferable to use its website as a sales platform rather than sell its tickets directly in the shop or through travel agencies. Of course, the ideal is to mix all distribution channels to ensure maximum visibility. Nevertheless the solution that allows a better ROI is direct online sales, and it has many advantages:
The reservation is made in advance, long before the departure of the boat, which is not the case when customers take their tickets directly in the port, just before departure. There is then the possibility of predicting the influx, and thus organize the travel more efficiently (regarding the provisions for example) and with no delays.
Selling directly from your website allows you to assess whether your products and / or services are competitive enough. Assess what your strengths are compared to your direct competitors and implement changes to keep your customers loyal to what you offer.
The most important: selling through your website allows you to attract customers from all around the world, you can then propose versions of your website in foreign language tailored to your target. The website is the open window to the world that allows you to be accessible anywhere, all the time, and that is a considerable advantage compared to a shop.
Concerning regular lines, the objective is different. This is more about getting independent regarding OTAs (Online Travel Agencies). Selling your tickets directly on the website allows a greater control over your business. Because selling through online comparators or OTAs have many disadvantages:
The commission rate, which in the end is much more important than the cost that could represent the creation of a functional website allowing you to sell directly your tickets.
OTA have control over your business image, so you no longer control the image you have with your customers or the message you send and this can result in a critical decline in sells volume if the OTA selling your products and or services wins a negative online reputation.
OTAs have control over prices, they decide the pricing policy, no matter what your position is. It is even more advantageous to offer a discount of 10% to customers booking directly on your website, which is an additional selling point.
Small businesses don’t have visibility on OTAs websites. Over time bigger companies, who capture all the market shares, or are redeemed, eat them.
The situation that ferry companies are living today is the same than the hotels have experienced in the last years. If we can then give an advice, it would be the following: be independent, be online, take the lead and be the only decision maker for the future of your company!