Q and A with General Manager David Thomson
Stradbroke Ferries has introduced a new fare structure to North Stradbroke Island as part of a modernisation of the ticketing system. General Manager David Thomson explains the new system.
Q: Why have you introduced a new fare structure for vehicular traffic to North Stradbroke Island?
A: It is about modernisation of our ticketing system and making better use of our resources and assets. It is a world-wide practice to base pricing on availabilty. This is about changing behaviour for a price reward.
Q: What do you mean by that?
A: The biggest complaint we hear is that it is ‘too expensive’ to travel to North Stradbroke Island. Depending on the time of the day, our vessels are at various degress of occupation. By making it more attractive at known quieter periods, we hope to change booking habits and to build up overall visitaion to Straddie.
Q: Do you see new markets developing because of your restructuring?
A: I do. For instance, the majority of people who live in the catchment area of our ferries to North Stradbroke Island, including SMB Islanders, have never visited Straddie. If you book at the right time, and take advantage of our discounted on-line booking, a family can now visit this beautiful island for as little as $100 return. That is a significant saving that I hope will boost traffic on our ferry services.
Q: What is your overall goal?
A: As a ferry company, we want more people to visit North Stradbroke and to use our services. Far better they be encouraged to travel when we have the capacity to take them at a discount, as opposed to peak periods of use. Everyone wins under this restructure. The vehicle owner can save money by selecting preferred sailing times, and the company benefits with growth in all travel zones.
Q: Do you believe your five-tier booking categories are fair and flexible?
A: I do. Travellers now have choice on their side. Ticket sales are flexible in that bookings are no longer for a return journey. The new fare structure is based on one-way bookings. That means a family might want to go over to the island in an Off-Peak Light category at $55, but return in a Super Premium, at $95 or whatever. It is about availability, flexibility, time and price - the client can make the choice.
Q: What are the five categories that can be selected?
A: Taking a normal family vehicle as a guide, the cheapest category one way is Off Peak Light at $55. Then there is Off Peak at $65, Standard at $75, Premium at $85, and Super Premium at $95. There are similar fare structures for vehicles over 6 metres, the addition of a trailer and for motor bikes.
Q: And what about regular users such as ratepayers and permanent residents of North Stradbroke Island?
A: There is good news here, too. Travellers who qualifiy as residents or ratepayers can make additional savings when booking in the Off Peak Light, Off Peak and Standard categories. Island residents can save 20% and non-resident ratepayers 10%. Booking online also offers a further $5 discount, making the cheapest one-way fare just $45.
Q: How do people go about booking via the new system?
A: As from April 20, our new online booking system will be launched. Travellers will be able to easily identify each of the categories and the prices involved and adjust their departure times to their selection. In doing so, they will also earn that valuable $5 discount. By modifying behaviour and selecting the required category, some great savings can be enjoyed - very much like what applies today in the airline discount reservation system that many people take advantage of to enjoy domestic travel. The
new booking system has been designed in such a way for easy and simple selection and operation, with bookings possible up to 12 months ahead. We want islanders to use the web site process. It saves them and us time and money. Bookings can still be made via our booking offices and phone but I urge use of the web site.
Q: And what of any other offers and systems that you have in place?
A: The new system makes null and void any existing bundles or variable rewards that have been in place.
Q: Will the new fare system be later expanded to the Southern Moreton Bay Islands?
A: Yes. At a later date we will introduce a different model. The market place for the SMB Islands is different. 80% of barge traffic on this service is local use and trade. There is very little tourism visitation to these islands at the present time and so a different approach is required. There will be more about this in the coming months.