Yiannis Maglaras, chief executive of ticketing platform Ticknovate, explains why the ferries will see a speedy recovery backed by the right tech
As with every travel related industry, ferry businesses across the world have suffered catastrophic losses.
In the last year around 75% to 100% of ferry passenger traffic and over 50% of vehicle traffic dried up.
The Ro-Pax market, providing passenger and cargo services, offered a lifeline to operators delivering goods but with passenger decks empty most of these businesses were operating at a loss with many receiving government support.
Traffic over the Mediterranean has seen a severe drop from 350 routes per day to 90 and the reduction in passengers and routes results in more operating costs and time needed to recover from this situation. The figures make very grim reading.
So, what happens next?
Let’s start by saying that for all of us in travel the signs are encouraging.
Countries are moving from being red to green listed destinations, travel restrictions are being lifted and the vaccination programme means that for many, the issues of self-isolation on return no longer apply.
There are still hoops to jump through with the current PCR test requirements but travellers are resilient and will do what it takes to make their holiday happen.
I’ve seen, first-hand, drop boxes full to the brim with PCR tests waiting to go off to be checked. People are desperate to get away either by air, train or ferry.
Across Europe the ferry industry is showing signs of recovery. Recent Norweigan government relaxing of restrictions have given the go-ahead for people to travel from Oslo to other parts of the country with local ferry line Colour Fantasy.
ForSea ferries, which operates between Sweden and Denmark, announced its transformation into a digital business to meet customer expectations and passenger volumes on the English Channel are expected to begin increasing following the UK’s recent lifting of certain restrictions.
Ferries are an indispensable part of the transport infrastructure across the world, but having been out of action for so long businesses need to make a profit.
While this will be a gradual move, ferry businesses should be ready to adapt and move quickly when demand picks up.
With their obvious social distancing and COVID safety advantages greater than other modes of transport, ferries will become the favoured option for many travellers.
Passengers can move around freely, take their pets and carry as much luggage as they can fit into their car.
This provides opportunities for new routes and improved services that comply with the emerging COVID regulations.
Tech solutions for the challenges ahead
In addition, with sustainable and responsible travel high on the agenda for most travellers many operators are presenting proposals for solutions on carbon dioxide reductions.
New touchless ticketing options like ours simplify the booking process enabling ferries to sell multiple products, pricing and promotions , with smart POS solutions allowing staff to offer upgrades to existing bookings and manage any booking enquiries.
Ferries are considered an essential service and marine highway, which makes the industry pivotal to a sustained economic recovery.
When people can travel freely again in high numbers, many will start within their own countries and geographic regions on ferries before jumping on planes or cruise ships.
Recovery for airlines and cruise ships will take a long time; ferry travel will see a much quicker recovery.
The future for travel is still uncertain for all of us but the ferry industry is poised to lead the way both commercially and regulatory as people take to the seas.