Another important issue is the cost of distribution, which can be relatively high due to the market dominance of the ferry travel aggregators, known here as online tour operators (the OTAs). These online companies can be a source of problems for passenger shipping companies, firstly because of the commissions awarded and then because they have control over the commercial image and visibility of their brand.
For these reasons, it is preferable for ferry companies to consider implementing a booking engine for their own products. We will concentrate on this part because, in fact, the creation of an effective website goes hand in hand with the implementation of an online booking system. For companies that used to sell through box offices or directly through OTA sites, integrating a booking system into their website can be very advantageous:
Sell your tickets without paying commissions
With a booking engine, you will definitely attract more customers. Instead of letting them go to OTA websites, where they can choose between your company and those of your direct competitors, you can create a website focused on sales conversion.
But developing an online booking engine on your website also allows you to reduce distribution costs. In fact, in a long-term perspective, the initial investment for a reservation system is very low compared to the commission cost of tour operators. Then why not become independent!
Even if you would like to continue working with these online travel agencies, implementing a booking engine on your website is a sure value because it provides several sources of income.
It is like emancipation. There comes a time when you know you have to do it. This way you will be free to make discounts or special packages for regular customers and, therefore, improve customer loyalty. You can also offer a unique value proposition to customers if they book directly on your website: complementary stays (gastronomy, for example) or additional services. Or even discounts for advance reservations.
Also, as we have already said, you should think that if you count on online travel agencies, they are the ones who really have control over the image of your business, and this can cause a critical decrease in the volume of sales. From your own website you can fully control the communication of your brand. You can easily modify the content you create to appeal to your potential customers and control with pricing and revenue management.
In addition, you will not be exposed to changes in the rules of these providers: with a booking engine on your own website, no one can increase their commissions or force you into a specific pricing policy.
Analyze the data provided by your website
There are multiple tools that will allow you to analyze what is happening on your website. If you have your own booking engine, you will be able to calculate the conversion rate of users entering your website and choose the landing pages and marketing campaigns that work best. Who doesn’t want to see the results of a great job?
In addition, you will get customer data long before they arrive at your ferry. This way you can send them relevant information about your city, local festivals, the best restaurants, etc. Anything that makes them trust you as a brand. You will get your customer’s loyalty even before shipping!
Y… do you know what kind of content can increase your sales?