Eric C. B. Cauchi, the Managing Partner of SEAbility, discusses the Use-it-Wisely approach to improving the utilisation of small passenger boats in the tourism sector.
I am the managing partner of SEAbility, a Greek family business which has been involved in shipping agencies for more than one hundred years. We are also involved in intermodal transport and logisitics. Alongside International Naval Surveys Bureau, Institute Of Communication And Computer Systems and Ocean Boatyard, my role is to improve boating in the tourism sector. Our overall objective as part of the Use-it-Wisely project, is to develop a business model which will allow sall-boat owners to upgrade and purchase boats in an informed and cost-effective way.
Boat owners must take into account many different variables when they are considering updating or upgrading their boats. It is an expensive and time-consuming decision-making process. Many factors must be taken into consideration including:
- Boat Size: should they purchase larger or smaller boats, or a mix of both
- Tourism Seasonality: the boat industry in the tourism sector fluctuates, with May to October accounting for high tourist season, while the remaining months are less demanding for boating services in terms of volumes but more demanding in terms of the natural environment and deployment profiles.
- Boat Numbers: how many boats should be purchased and/or upgraded
Boat owners constantly balance between having enough boats to facilitate demand without incurring any extra costs or waste. The Use-it-Wisely model will take into account competition, seasonality, boat ticket prices for tourists and the market dynamics to simplify the decision-making process for owners.
The model also investigates solutions for boat owners to better manage times when the tourist season fluctuates. Many alternative functions for boats are being investigated including the carrying of parcels and special classifications of passengers.
The assumptions behind the proposed model are realistic and dynamic and the model is based on information derived from market data. However, the model is yet to be validated.
In the interim, we have created a number of online applications. A web-based Configurator will enable boat owners to discern which boat specifications best suit their specific requirements before making a purchase; data will then be exported to another application (the ‘Vessel Model’) which will refine and include technical and regulatory information to be shared between the three main actors (boat owner, boatyard and classification society). In turn, data exported from the Vessel Model will populate the third module, the Metafile, which will provide owners with a database of information on an individual boat’s history, including repairs, refurbishments, ownership and many other considerations. All applications are currently being validated.
While the proposed model is centred on the tourist boat industry in Greece, it will serve as a building block to inform boat buyers across Europe into the future. The model may also be adapted to different European countries, providing tangible benefits for many different parties: from boat owners, operators and builders, to the tourists who will reap the benefits of optimised transport and to the environment, through optimised boat usage as well the introduction of fuel-efficient engines, hull designs and the use of lighter materials.