Maritime Telecommunication Network for providing Ship Management Information and Services for Passengers and the General Public.
Issues being addressed
The project addresses the following needs in the field of maritime information management with the aim to contribute with an intergative cost-effective solution in a hihgly competitive market:
- Need for interactive facilities dealing with timetables, schedule information and trip planning, where a potential traveler is able to provide destination, departure date and time, transportation mean, special preferences (prices, ship line and vessel), trip duration and considering his input, take as return specific trip information;
- Need for ferry and cruiser ships passengers to book their trip on-line and get tourism information and trip warnings;
- Need for Geographical Information Systems for identifying a vessel location and Weather Information Services for providing information about trip, port or destination weather and weather forecast;
- Need for Information Services providing recommendations on destination attractions, culture, events and festivals and information related to tourism industry such as local hotels, on-board services, restaurants, night clubs and shopping and probably connection to CRS (Computer Reservation Systems) for the booking of such services;
- Need for mariners and sea transport stakeholders for cost efficient communications between them as well as with the general public.
During the first project semester a detailed market survey has been conducted regarding ship-travel related business use of the World Wide Web. The survey included the screening of 280 web sites that directly (e.g. as their core product) or indirectly are covering the complete spectrum of web services offered in the maritime travel market. The survey noticed that there are a growing number of sites which include applications such as trip scheduling/ planning facilities, real on line booking while a significantly lower number of them is starting offering location based information, ship descriptions, destination port tourism information, ship routes updates, weather updates e.g. the rest of applications that we consider as an essential part of the TeleSHIPping core and of a successful e-sea travel business. We found NO site, as yet, that is incorporating a complete spectrum of applications. A complete set is - on the TeleSHIPping promoters view - very important to create a really customer attractive business to consumer service. In this respect it must be noted that only 1-2% of prospective sea travelers purchase their tickets on-line today.
Goals of the project
The major objective of the TeleSHIPping project concerns a market validation study to investigate:
- The commercial feasibility of an internet/intranet based information system for ferry and cruise passengers, for shipping lines, for port authorities, and for travel agencies.
- The adequacy of available modern communication technologies for structuring the project's serving platform enabling information exchange among interested parties pre-trip or during trip.
- The implementation of a series of alternatives for the services delivery to the general public, identifying the potential advantages and disadvantages and profitable opportunities associated with them.
The TeleSHIPping network platform for information exchange linking state-holders (private and public) and end users.
Target user addressed
The user target groups include Prospective passengers of cruise ships or ferries (during trip planning), Corporate users (ship operators), Travel agents/ tour operators, Passengers on board (during trip), Mariners, Port Authorities.
The target addressed during the project will be of limited dimension comprising routes: in the East Mediterranean connecting Greece to Italy, in the Aegean Sea connecting Piraeus with the Greek islands and in the Gibraltar Strait between Algeciras and Ceuta or Tanger. The specific routes are considered representative as they combine the whole set of ship travel types (domestic - international, long - short distance). According to TeleSHIPping full deployment plan the extension of the services as far as concerns the inclusion of other maritime companies and destinations in the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea is anticipated during the next two years after the end of the project.
The project proposes an innovative serving platform which links the general public to sea travel products or tourism information provider via the Internet and the stakeholders via Intranets.
Services are made continuously available (pre-trip or during trip). Delivery of services on board ships is made possible via VSATs (e.g. very small aperture terminals - a proven satellite technology) and/or a combination of existing access technologies for ship-shore communications & information exchange (Inmarsat B, Fleet, etc).
TeleSHIPping's demonstration sites are in pilot use, providing only services for three routes: Patras to Venice, Piraeus to Heraklion and Algeciras and Ceuta or Tanger. The specific routes cover all the travel types encountered in the Mediterraneum area and give a clear image of the market. TeleSHIPping's market research includes however destinations outside the Mediterranean Sea, such as the Baltics and the cruise market in the Caribbean. The consortium will try to adapt the results of the pilot trials in the Mediterranean to these markets also.
After the conclusion of the project the services are expected to be deployed gradually to all the important sea tourism routes of Europe.
The main strengths of TeleSHIPping approach for on-line travel service provision can be summarised as follows:
- Service availability directly from the travel product generators,
- Privileged relationships/ partnerships allowing cost efficient and high quality services,
- Transparent offers, branded products from trustworthy sources,
- Useful and interesting content,
- One stop shopping and service accessibility during the whole duration of the trip,
- Distinctive/ superior segment-specific value proposition,
- Integration of complex distribution channels through distributed back-office integration ("click-and-mortar" e-commerce approach).
Contribution to eEurope 2005
The European Council held in Lisbon on 23/24 March 2000 recognized an urgent need for Europe to quickly exploit the opportunities of the new economy and in particular the Internet. The Barcelona European Council called on the Commission to draw up an eEurope action plan focussing on "the widespread availability and use of broadband networks throughout the Union by 2005 and the development of Internet protocol IPv6... and the security of networks and information, eGovernment, eLearning, eHealth and eBusiness". This action plan will succeed the eEurope 2002 action plan endorsed by the Feira European Council in June 2000. eEurope is part of the Lisbon strategy to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy with improved employment and social cohesion by 2010.The objective of this Action Plan is to "provide a favourable environment for private investment and for the creation of new jobs, to boost productivity, to modernise public services, and to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the global information society. eEurope 2005 therefore aims to stimulate secure services, applications and content based on a widely available broadband infrastructure".
The concept of TeleSHIPping is completely identified with the vision of eEurope 2005 as it is stated within this Action Plan. Furthermore, a set of actions, proposed in the action plan, soon to be adopted, it is anticipated that will create a very favourable environment for the product suite proposed by TeleSHIPping.
Progress and results
A thorough business plan that includes an analysis of business cases (for the TeleSHIPping application services provider / developer, a Virtual travel agency network , maritime transport operator and port authority gateway) .
The work of the first semester of the project was concluded in May 2002 with the production of an initial business plan. The financial analysis conclusions have been very encouraging and demonstrated that the business idea of TeleSHIPping is valid and the business prospects are quite promising.
The promoters of the project will very pleased to present their findings to strategic collaborators (tour operators, shipping companies, CRS operators, content providers, banks, etc) and discuss with them the business prospects. Starting in autumn 2002 a series of market validation trials are to take place , including a series of demos on board Greek, Spanish and Greek ships and a-shore at Italian and Spanish ports.
The conclusions of the initial business plan analysis conducted within the first half of the project were very encouraging. The TeleSHIPping partners have already started the "partial" deployment of several services. It is estimated that by the end of the project, subject to an encouraging result of the trials, the consortium will be ready for the full deployment phase of TeleSHIPping services portfolio described below:
Prior to the trip (via the internet)
- Information for on-board facilities, facilities at the destination ports and holiday resorts
- Access to ticket reservation systems & booking facilities
After making the decision or during waiting at harbour (at kiosk locations or - in the future, when technology shall mature - also via mobile phones)
- trip relevant information & warnings and last minute ticket booking
During trip on board vessels (at kiosk locations or computer equipment/ devices connected with wired or wireless means to the ship network)
- Information for on-board facilities, special offers, facilities at the destination ports and at holiday resorts
- Access to infotainment services, health-care services, etc
- Voice & data Communication services (e-mail)
The main obstacles to be overcome for deployment are the current prototype nature of the product, the current e-commerce technology constraints, the relatively weak overall marketing background and the strong interdependence of the application modules. Apart from these obstacles there are not regulatory constraints for the deployment of services. The market analysis suggests that this decision should be taken as soon as possible e.g. before the end of the project, even earlier.
Reports to be available on the Website
Public information on project progress is provided through the project's website.
Confidential reports of the project can be made available to potential business collaborators subject to the signature of a non-disclosure agreement.
Figure. The TeleSHIPping business idea - linking stake-holders ( private / public ) and end users via a single network platform for information exchange