For Stena Line the summer is traditionally a busy time, however, with the chaotic impact of the recent ash cloud phenomenon set to continue to blight travel arrangements for the foreseeable future, this summer is shaping up to be a record one.
Stena Line, the market leading ferry operator, has already seen a significant increase in its summer bookings on the Irish Sea with advanced sales for June and July already up 15% on last year. Based on current trends, Stena Line expects to carry an additional 50,000 passengers this summer compared to 2009 on its Irish Sea routes.
This growth comes on the back of a busy Spring period which saw the company carry an additional 60,000 passengers bolstered by the impact of the volcanic ash cloud on air travel between Ireland and Britain.
In addition to getting ready for the extra volumes this summer, Stena Line has also made a number of contingency plans for its business to help it cope with the strains placed on it during the recent ‘no fly’ periods including increasing its web capacity and up-weighting call centre staff and standby crews. At the height of the ash cloud crisis, Stena Line was receiving an unprecedented 350% increase in hits to its UK and Ireland websites.
Ian Baillie, Marketing Manager, Stena Line said: “I suppose it would be fair to say that we have been one of the few benefactors from the chaos caused by the ash cloud disruptions. Undoubtedly people have travelled with us who would not have done so or have not done so for many years yet the one common factor to all has been the level of surprise about just how much ferry travel has changed.
“This is a message we have been articulating for many years but to have the opportunity to showcase our services to so many new people has been a real buzz for us. While the increase in business has been most welcome I think it’s the level of positive feedback that has been the real success for us. People have been telling us in their thousands what a pleasant surprise their trip with us has been. They have drawn numerous comparisons with flying and the vast majority have pointed to the convenience, space, no baggage restriction, hassle free check-in and so on as being features that will influence their future travel decisions.
“From a business perspective our job will be to provide those many thousands of new customers with more and more reasons to travel with Stena Line again in the future. Already we are seeing a definite shift in holiday planning as more families seek the relative certainty provided by ferry travel compared to flying, especially as this pattern of disruption looks set to continue”, Ian concluded.