Marketing your ferry to potential passengers is a challenge. Most mapping services have been historically focussed on road transport and if road transport is not possible, then passenger's minds immediately jump to air travel. Competition is high and trying to compete with deep pocketed companies or change embedded travelling habits has been expensive.
However customer's methods for choosing their transport options are changing. With the advent of online mapping services such as Google Maps, passengers are now presented with a myriad of travelling options, from walking, driving, public transport to planes. Travellers are choosing the best option for them, and if you are not appearing on these mapping services you are missing out.
The challenge for many ferries companies is their schedule is not available in a format that can be used by the major software companies and mobile transit apps. The format that these companies use is the internationally recognised GTFS General Transit Feed Specification.
Although many ferry routes appear on maps, in reality they are just a coloured line which provides no details on sailing times, arrivals, departures and seasonal variations. By providing your routes and schedules in the GTFS format, the major software companies' trip planning software can present your schedules, allowing travellers to plan their trips. Additionally the trip planners provide customers with links to your websites. This allows you to convert potential travellers into confirmed bookings sooner.
Ferries are subject to more variations in travel conditions than most of forms of travel. Be it inclement weather, wind, tides or waves these can dramatically change the nature of a voyage, or whether it actually sails at all. This combined with the standard challenges of mechanical, staffing and customer incidents and alternative docking arrangements means that there is always an opportunity for things to change.
Providing Real Time Status updates allows you to keep your customers informed without the need to speak to or contact each individual one. By reducing the need to convey status updates, this allows your team to focus on managing the issue and resolving the underlying problem quicker.
Customers expect to be able to purchase their tickets online. But developing and maintaining an online ticketing system for just your ferry is expensive. For most ferry companies it is more cost effective to use an online ticketing solution such as AddTransit. Using AddTransit's solution allows you to really focus on improving your ferry business.
Allowing customers to plan, book and pay on AddTransit enables you to make sales without customers needing to contact your staff by telephone or in person, and makes ticket sales at time of sailing far less hectic. Customers don't have to worry about last minute payments, you can reduce the cash on hand at time of sail, and your team can really focus on ensuring quick departures.
Additionally online ticketing allows you to increase your forward planning. With more tickets bought online, you can determine which vessel is most appropriate for certain trips and also encourage customers to purchase trips that have more unused capacity.