Is it still a ferry?

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The state of Denmark shares its history with the oceans and waters that surround the country. Early settlers who came to what is now known as Denmark were attracted and overwhelmed by the abundance of fish that the vast coastlines of Denmark had to offer. Now, there are few fish left in the Danish oceans, and with modern times comes solid infrastructure that leaves the water ways desolated. The ease of transportation is encouraged by new bridges, which today connect main parts of Denmark. With the past decades and century of bridge building the ferry lines stand to lose their attractiveness – arguably, choosing a bridge to a ferry seems like the cheap and efficient alternative to old ferries. However, hidden values of ferrying have emerged and many people still choose the authenticity of a ferry to a bridge. The ferry has become a place where you can rest, catch a nap, spend time on the deck with travel companions etc, and today stands as a part of the experience economy. Now, the responsiveness to CSR demands has led Scandlines, a Danish ferry operator, to install electrical powered engines in their vessels, relieving the standard diesel engine whenever they can:

“The technique is known from hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius”, Søren Poulsgaard, CEO of Scandlines, explains.App_Datafiles20131færgetegning.jpeg_470x-1.png

But is Scandlines in jeopardy of losing their touch with its customers with its new addition to propulsion? You wouldn’t think so, right? However, some (i.e. me!) would argue that the feel of going by ferry is inherently connected with factors such as the vibration from the ship’s engine, that special humming sound you can drift away and fall asleep to, the smell of diesel and oil when you walk on the deck, the steam (and pollution) from the big chimney’s that make up a huge part of what a ferry is all about. These factors all add to the experience of travelling by ferry, and it must be reckoned with if ferry lines are to stand a chance in a competing market.

In Stagis we often see the need for companies and organizations to redefine their identity and move away from being 100% focused on the historical aspects of the brand. Is this the case for Scandlines? Does the technical shift in propulsion create an opportunity for Scandlines to become the new green way of transportation of the modern age?

It will be interesting to witness if consumers will applaud the transition and continue to use ferries countrywide. How will Scandlines keep their identity and image intact, while changing key factors, such as the propulsion system? And how will they come about the potential re-branding opportunity that inherently lies before them?

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Sources for this blog post:

– politiken.dk/turengaartil/rejsenyt/ferieidanmark
– scandlines.dk
– green-technology.org/what.htm