TTE 2014: Pharos hub enabling ferry firms to correct ‘direct sell error’

Travel agencies and ferry operators are rediscovering the benefits of working together, according to the provider of technology to enable third party bookings.

Pharos Datacom says its specialist ferry Xchange reservations hub is helping operators to move away from the price comparison channel which has seen revenues and yields diminish.

Alan Warbuton, managing director of Pharos, said agents are increasingly recognising the value of a ferry booking as an ancillary booking as part of a package.

And ferry companies, some of which moved to 0% commission as they pursued an aggressive direct sales strategy, see the value in having their product sold as part of a package.

Last year Pharos signed up Thomas Cook in the Czech Republic so it could offer online ferry sales for customers visiting Scandinavia initially, and then the Baltic, Mediterranean and North Sea regions.

In regions like the Baltic, ferry companies are offering mini-cruise experiences on modern ships so agents are able to tap into this growing market for customers who cannot afford a full cruise.

The Xchange business-to-business hub links 60 European operators with over 60 retailers and handles one million transactions a day.

Given that there is no GDS for the ferry sector, the system means agents can link to multiple suppliers without having to build feeds for each one.

Pharos said agents are seeing the huge potential market for ferry sales as an ancillary that remains under the radar while operators have seen the error of driving so much business direct sold on price.

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