Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read May 2021 — In an interview with Invest:, Founder and Managing Director of Global Marine Travel (a full-service, specialized maritime travel agency) Tim Davey talks about the importance of seafarers and how their role in the global economy was under-appreciated until the pandemic struck. He notes which sectors of marine travel have fared well and which haven’t over the course of the pandemic. He also notes the solid foundation on which Global Marine Travel has been built and how this will help its customers across the globe return to work onboard their vessels during an anticipated boom in maritime travel.
What challenges have you faced in supporting crews during COVID?
The most disappointing thing for me throughout COVID has been the lack of understanding of the contribution that seafarers make, not just to the South Florida economy but to the entire global economy. We needed to convince so many local leaders and governments of the value of seafarers and their importance in the whole supply chain. We had to explain why we needed to get these crews relieved from their vessels, as well as the danger of fatigue for the seafarers. The Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing, which we recently signed, really helps bring the importance of seafarers to the spotlight. There’s still a lot more work to be done. If we ever have a situation like this again, there should be no question of exempting seafarers.
Which of your areas of business have seen the most and least demand over the last year?
The most stable sectors with continued demand have been in the area of private yachts. They’ve been able to be isolated and have their own individual bubbles. The pleasant knock-on effect is that supporting industries related to private yachts have been able to survive: the provisioning companies, the people fueling them, the port agents, or us, who fly the crew around. The private yacht contribution to the maritime economy is often underappreciated due to the sexy and luxurious image of the private yacht industry, with yachts often sinking in millions of dollars into the local economy per visit. The offshore oil industry, while it has slowed down, continues to move its workers around the globe. They’re still exploring and drilling, and they’re just below COVID levels right now. The commercial shipping business has decreased as there is a lot less demand for goods than there has been in the past. Not as many people are buying cars right now. The area hit the hardest has been the cruise line industry. But cruising is just such a big part of our vacationing lives that it’s not going to go away, it’s just going to take some time to recover. In the near term, the cruise companies are preparing for short, domestic cruises. But then, one cruise company we work with was offering an around-the-world cruise for 2023, and that sold out in a day. This demonstrates clearly the pent-up demand for cruising in the future.
How have you maintained your relationships within the marine community over the past year?
The key here is communication. We’ve invested in social media and communications experts who will keep your name out there and create relevant articles to support your brand. The hardest thing during COVID has been managing all the messages that are coming out about what borders are open and what documentation you might need to travel. There are so many untruths out there, too. We decided to launch a full digital campaign backed up by actual phone calls and Zoom meetings with our clients to educate them on what it’s like to travel now, to educate them about the future and to let them know that we are here, we’re strong, we’re not reducing our workforce and we’re here to help them. We also invested a lot of time in training our agents on this same information. It didn’t matter where you were in the world, if you called into one of our offices, you got the same information that we were giving to our customers.
What are your top priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?
We take the approach that we are going to be really busy. Much busier, in fact, than we were with pre-COVID levels. The approach we’re taking now is going back to the basics with colleagues and booking agents to make sure they have all the right tools to help our customers in the most accurate way. We’re spending time educating our team to not rush on to the next booking but to take the time to get the correct information from the customer to make sure they get on their way as fast as possible. There will be a rush of travel coming — that is imminent — so we want to make sure that we are rock solid when that happens.
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