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Photo: Port of Helsinki

Port of Helsinki seeks to “understand passengers” as numbers drop

As the Helsinki-Tallinn ferry stats tumble, studies are being lined up to provide an understanding of passengers’ needs.

The Port of Helsinki says it is about to launch “passenger studies” to collect information to support its ongoing development. Evolving the passenger experience is one of the port’s key projects in the coming years.

The studies’ key themes will include a better understanding of different passenger groups, for example, as well as passengers’ changing and trending needs and expectations.

Information from the studies will be collected in three stages. Early in the year, a research company will interview ships’ passengers and the representatives of shipping companies regarding their needs.

Based on the findings, a survey will be planned and carried out on a monthly basis at the port’s passenger terminals, starting in March.

The survey’s purpose will be to gather information on the customer satisfaction of the port’s services.

Customer segmentation will also be carried out in a separate data collection process between April and June, hopefully to provide a deeper understanding of target groups as well as the tools for developing services and marketing.

“We will be able to build service concepts that will carry us far,” pledges Sari Nevanlinna, the Port of Helsinki’s vice president for passenger services.

“For example, this may mean the provision of new services at terminals or real-time timetable information on various modes of transport, displayed on digital surfaces.”

Downward traffic
The news comes as the port reports a decline in passenger numbers. A total of 12.08 million passengers passed through the Port of Helsinki in 2018, which is 1.8% down on the previous record year.

The vast majority of these, 11.56 million, were ferry passengers – and the majority of these were on the crucial line between Helsinki and Tallinn, numbering 8.8 million (77% of all ferry and cruise passengers). This latter figure was also 1.8% down on 2017.

The Port of Helsinki blames this “slight decline” on “the lack of high-speed vessel traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn in 2018 as well as a decrease in sea travel by Finns as a result of the increased price level in Estonia”.

Meanwhile, a total of 2.3 million passengers sailed between Stockholm and Helsinki, a fall of 2.1%.

In contrast, the number of passengers on international cruise ships broke last year’s record, reaching “almost 520,000”, the port says, which is roughly 40,000 passengers and 8.5% more than 2017. The port saw 285 vessel calls in 2018, or 19 more than the previous year.

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