A Client Q&A: Stuart James from Wightlink 

14th January 2020 by Flagship Consulting

Tell us about yourself… 

As Marketing and Innovation Director at Wightlink I am responsible for Marketing, Technology and driving revenue across the consumer market within one of the UK’s largest ferry companies. I have worked across a number of sectors including retail, FMCG as well as global manufacturing and consulting, combining commercial strategy and technology to deliver revenue and enhancing the customer experience.

What do you enjoy most about working at Wightlink? 

Every day is different at Wightlink. Clichéd I know, but with over 45,000 sailings per year and thousands of vehicles and passengers travelling with us every day to so many attractions and activities on and off the Island, there is always going to be something going on or a different challenge to face. Key to the success of any business nowadays is how they engage with customers. With the diversity of customers, the customer experience required is unique to each individual. Over 60% of our customers book through the web and most of our customers directly or indirectly find us or the Island digitally, so marketing effectively in this space is key to our success. Once they arrive at our ports and travel onboard, the experience must be consistent and meet if not exceed expectations. This is why we have mapped the end to end customer journey both digitally and physically in order to define the types of customers and experiences that help us achieve this. This is also a challenge from a brand perspective as it needs to represent this in a consistent way.  

What travel trends are you most looking forward to seeing develop?

There is so much information out there on destinations and travel experiences positive and negative, that digesting what is relevant and valid can sometimes be bewildering. When we are looking for where to go and how to get there, I believe we will make our travel choices not just on cost but on how easy it is to find the inspiration, select and book and have the right level of engagement throughout our experience. We will also choose a travel brand and destinations that align with our personal values. Sustainability, ethical travel and environmental factors will all become even more influential in our choices – or should I say decisions. GDPR aside we may well subscribe to channels that match inspiration with these criteria to provide recommendations on where to go, how and when  – an uber personalised experience. And how will we interact? I see voice assistants taking over from the traditional search engines with content delivered to a kitchen worktop or living room wall near you.

What initiatives is Wightlink carrying out to promote environmentally friendly travel? 

Environmentally Wightlink is leading the way in the UK ferry travel with our new VoW Hybrid Energy ship, a first for the UK and using 17% less fuel than St Clare. We are looking extensively at our use of single use plastics and recycling and replacing plastic wherever possible, for example with wooden knives and forks. We are committed to totally recycling all our waste and are about to recycle coffee grains! We pride ourselves on our own brand retail offering and using Island-based products or distributors. Reducing carbon miles is also important, for instance our milk travels less than 5 miles from cow to cup. We care about our environment, and The Isle of Wight is now a UNESCO Biosphere and we are actively supporting this through the reintroduction of marine life at our ports and on the Solent – from Vertipools and Oyster reintro to looking at other schemes such as SeaGrass that can potentially absorb more CO2 than equivalent trees.

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