Written by: Cristina García
Many ferry operators, especially smaller ones, don’t see the value of developing a marketing strategy. Even today in which almost all the business related to the tourism sector are found on the Internet. In fact, the managers of these companies are often too busy managing day-to-day operations to be interested about that issue. However, brand differentiation isn’t just for this industry's giants!
Who is not intended to sustain its business and expand it?
Adopting a remarkable marketing strategy is very important for the differentiation of your brand, especially in a sector where companies offer similar services such as ferry transport. Indeed, brand recognition and differentiation allow service companies to stand out and remain competitive.
There is therefore a double advantage to developing a promotional campaign, you can attract more customers (increase your turnover) and at the same time strengthen your brand awareness (which gives you more credibility), with a minimal investment cost. You just need to be creative and to know what are the exact expectations of the consumers of your service.
There are several types of services for ferry operators: simple passenger transport; roll-on roll-off transport of vehicles and passengers; excursions and visits. Each service requires a different level of organization and different technical and structural skills.
Indeed, the big difference is that consumers of these services have distinct buying behaviors. It is then a question of adopting marketing strategies adapted to each segment. But how to segment your market?
You can use "purpose of travel" as the basis for your segmentation and then focus on the segments that are most interesting to you. For example, there are two main types of travelers: regular customers who travel from one island to another by ferry to work; and tourists, more interested in full services including for example a meal on board or excursions.
We can also segment the market more precisely, by identifying more travel motivations: tourism, leisure, visiting relatives or friends, interests, business and others. These motivations will influence the form of the trip requested by your customers. Some will look for a service with added value (such as a guided tour, a meal included or even accommodation) while other customers will look for a simple transport service from point A to a point B at the most accessible price possible.
As mentioned earlier, the purchasing behavior of your potential customers is influenced by the reason of his trip. Indeed, there is a relationship between the passengers' travel patterns and the extent of the services they are likely to buy on board of the ship.
Locals (or regular customers) provide you with a steady stream of revenue throughout the year, especially if you are successful in building loyalty (by offering loyalty programs or discounts) but are reluctant to ask for additional services. On the other hand, passengers traveling for tourism reasons are those who are looking for greater added value and are more favorable to buy services on board, so it is thanks to them that you can generate the most turnover.
As you can see, it’s essential to have as much information as possible about your potential clients’ travel preferences. How? With the tools and online channels that allow you to get relevant data for your tourism business.
This is where online marketing comes in, and it's very important. Because to capture these foreign customers, you must stand out from the competition and get their attention.
Nowadays, when we talk about marketing, we also talk a lot about e-commerce and digitization, which are becoming more and more important for consumers. The best illustration of this phenomenon is undoubtedly the development of mobile solutions for reservations and cancellation.
In addition, online marketing is the best way to reach a wider range of consumers. Nowadays, almost everyone uses the Internet to search for information, and Internet has no borders.