Written by: Cristina García
As we have already said in other articles, it is essential for ferry companies to start their “digital transition”. It consists in digitizing the sales and marketing functions of your company, in order to offer a pleasant and intuitive experience to your client when making his reservation. Among the many advantages of creating a website as a full sales platform, the most important is probably the ticketing management that is simplified. In addition, developing a dynamic website allows you to increase the visibility of your company.
Another important issue is the cost of distribution, which can be relatively high due to the market stranglehold of ferry travel aggregators, also named online tour operators (OTAs). These online companies can indeed be a source of problems for shipping companies, firstly because of the commissions they grant themselves and then because they have control over the commercial image and visibility of your brand.
For these reasons it is therefore preferable for the ferry companies to consider the implantation of a cruise booking engine. We will concentrate on this part because indeed the creation of an effective website rhymes with the implementation of an online booking system. For companies that were used to sell through boutiques or directly through the OTA sites, integrating a reservation system into their website can be very advantageous:
With a booking engine, you will definitely attract more clients. Instead of letting them going to Tour Operator websites where they can choose between you and all the competitors, you can create a web page thought and focused on the conversion into sales.
But developing an online booking system in your website also allows you to reduce your distribution costs. Indeed, in a long time perspective, the initial investment for a booking engine is very low compared to the commission cost of Tour Operators. So get independent!
Even if you want to keep working with ferry travel aggregators (or OTAs), implementing a booking engine to your web page is a safe value because it provides several sources of income.
You will have freedom to make special discounts or packages for regular clients, and therefore enhance customer loyalty. You can also offer a unique value proposition to the customers if they book directly on your website: complementary stays (gastronomy for example) or extra services. Or even discounts for reservations in advance.
Online ferry travel aggregators have control over your business image, and this can result in a critical decline in sales volume. From your own website you can fully control your brand’s communication. You can easily modify your content in order to attract your potential consumers and play with pricing and revenue management.
Furthermore, you will not be exposed to the changes of rules of the supplier: with a booking engine directly on your web page, nobody can raise you commissions or force you to a concrete policy of prices.
There are multiple tools that allow you to analyze what happens on your website. If you have your own booking engine, you can calculate the conversion rate of users coming to your website and choose the landing pages and marketing campaigns that work better. Who doesn’t want to see the results of a great work?
In addition, you will get customer data long before they arrive at your ferry. This way, you will be able to send them relevant information about your city, local festivals, the best restaurants, etc. Anything that aims them to trust you as a brand. You will get your customer’s loyalty even before they embark!And... do you know what kind of content can increase your sales?