New report from Drewry Shipping Consultants “The European Ferry Industry – a Business in Transition” has been authored by Bill Moses, Director of Ferry & Ro-Ro Division. The European ferry sector encompasses a range of diverse and interesting businesses from large to small, passenger to freight, lifeline to leisure and with an array of standards from luxury to basic. This publication seeks to provide a sketch of the industry as well as an analysis of its past and current position and the threats and opportunities it faces for the future.
The plain and simple truth is that the European ferry industry in its many and varied forms is undergoing a metamorphosis, in part at the behest of some of the companies concerned and in other areas with a degree of understandable reluctance, motivated by external forces and the need for survivability.
So what aspects should European ferry operators be focusing on? There are three parts to future strategy:
- Firstly to convince passengers and hauliers that the service offered is value for money. Much of this can come from approach, price-point and the Internet in terms of conveying simplicity and perceived value. Retail and food and beverage prices and standards are not exempt either.
- Secondly it is important to harness costs. Other than hedging there isn’t much to be considered with fuel, but in general terms there is much to be done with crew costs, port dues and supplies. Everything needs to be thoroughly challenged if the ratio between revenue and expenses is to improve.
- Thirdly, it is important to improve on the service levels. If airlines and airports are the competitor then it is important for ferry companies to provide a service that is altogether slicker in order to plant a truly memorable experience in traveller’s minds.
The European ferry industry is potentially capable and largely necessary. Freight will continue to grow for the foreseeable future regardless of effort, but in order to survive and rekindle the passenger’s perception much needs to be done in a process that should involve a good measure of business self-analysis.