16 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 • FOGHORN FOGHORNFOCUS: SALES & MARKETING existing customers into their channel.A common concern is that OTAs use their massive size and resources and end up competing with the online efforts of the operator for the same offering. Remember to think about cash flow - you may be used to getting payment for tickets sold within a few days of purchase. With tickets purchased through the OTAs, your payment will likely come 30 days after the date of the event (as opposed to the purchase date) and may require some administrative process for you to prove that the guest attended. A final point that could be critical for you - a customer who purchases a ticket through an OTA is the OTA’s customer. You may not even be given their name or contact information. In your agreement terms, you may have limitations on whether you are permitted to follow-up with them, even if you manage to get their contact in- formation while they are aboard your vessel. If you primarily have one-time visitors, this may not be a big deal. But if you are looking to build a repeat customer base, this could have an impact on your plans. Best Practices How do you maximize your chances for success in working with the OTAs? The following best practices were gathered from discussions with several operators. -Build a Great Business First From day one, focus on building a great business that can succeed on the foundation of your direct-to-customer marketing and sales efforts, including your website and related search engine optimization. Once you have a strong business built on direct sales, then it may make sense to augment that with various third parties, including OTAs, to con- tribute to increasing your sales. If you have done a fantastic job and often sell out your trips, be sure to evaluate what value additional third- party bookings might bring (OTA or otherwise) - perhaps strength in the off-hours and shoulder-season trips? -Know Your Numbers No two businesses are alike, so what works for one operation may not be relevant for you. Understand all the costs that go into delivering a great ex- perience for each guest. In addition to covering your fixed costs per trip, be sure to evaluate the incremental cost of additional staff, food, etc., for each guest added by an OTA. Then, evaluate your costs versus the after-commission proceeds you will receive from the OTAand decide if that makes business sense for you, at the in- dividual ticket level. One personal recommendation from me: Avoid the trap from the early Groupon days. Do you remember the original sales pitch? That guests brought in initially through Groupons would become repeat customers at full KPFF 3 LEGEND 5 6 7 405 90 5 5 522 518 509 522 405 99 BOTHELL WOODINVILLE KIRKLAND SEATTLE BELLEVUE MERCER ISLAND WEST SEATTLE BURIEN RENTON LAKE FOREST PARK NEWCASTLE SEATAC NORMANDY PARK DES MOINES KENMORE ELLIOTT BAY LA KE W AS HI N GT O N BALLARD 167 15th Ave NW 99 NE 45th St Madison St 100th Ave NE Pacific Hwy S NE 8th St S 200th St 509 520 520 523 169 405 90 99 99 Bellevue Way NE 90 NE 85th St REDMOND 5 Ri ch ar ds Rd 148th Ave NE NE 70th St NE 124th St 6th St S NE 132nd St Juanita Dr NE Ju a n it a W o o d in v il le W a y N E S im o n s R d N E Veterans Dr Amba um Blvd SW 515 900 900 SW Grady Way Logan Ave N Edmonds Ave NE SE 192nd St 140th Ave SE SE Petrovitsky Rd 513 UW WAC 1 2 3 4 5 7 6 PIER 50 5 PIER 50 Potential Landing Sites Routes 1 Kenmore (Log Boom Park) to UW WAC 2 Kenmore (Log Boom Park) to Bellevue Marina 3 Kirkland (Marina Park) to UW WAC 4 Bellevue (Marina) to UW WAC 5 Renton to Bellevue (Marina) 6 Des Moines (Marina) to Pier 50 7 Ballard (Marina) to Pier 50 1601 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1600 Seattle, WA 98101 Mike Anderson | Director KPFF Marine Transit Consulting Mike.Anderson@kpff.com 206.498.5438 www.kpff.com KPFF is an Equal Opportunity Employer » Project & Program Management » Strategic, Business & Route Planning » Safety, Security & Emergency Management » System & Long-Range Planning » Terminal Design & Construction Management » Customer/Community Relations » Marine Operations Analysis & Risk Assessments » Vessel Acquisition Support NYC EDC 2013 Citywide Ferry Study, 2017 Operational Assessment, 2017-2022 Ferry System Consulting KING COUNTY MARINE DIVISION 2008-2021 Marine Transportation Program Planning STATEN ISLAND FERRY 2015 Fleet Assessment, 2016 Diagnostic Review, 2017 Midtown Ferry Study Since 2008 we have worked with over 35 ferry operators and transportation agencies across the U.S. and internationally, providing services related to all aspects of ferry system operations and planning. Image courtesy of NYC Ferry MARINE TRANSIT CONSULTING GROUP