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Recruiting and Retaining Crew in a New Digital Age

Maritime communications have evolved at a phenomenal rate ever since broadband connectivity made a successful impact in the way people communicate with everyone at work.

Since SatCom service providers offer new connectivity packages that allow for higher digital data exchange capacities, new broadband solutions for crew onboard are also emerging with different allocations of data and bandwidth needs.

Just as our previous article – Is Enhanced Connectivity Worth The Investment – sea-to-shore communications are changing the lives of those people who spend much of their lives at sea.

But rather than discussing how enhanced connectivity improves the lives of everyone on board, there is a situation of conflicting values in regards to service adoption and onboard crew communications.

As VSAT installations are predicted to double over the next five years, Futurenautics Research reported that 42% of crew surveyed have not seen any improvement in the provision of onboard communications.

Neglecting crew satisfaction

This situation suggests that ship operators are only adopting new technologies to reduce costs, enhance operational efficiencies, and increase competitive advantage.

This pattern has also shown that focusing on infrastructure innovations while keeping up with new hybrid satellite solutions for operational efficiencies, fails to overlap the excruciating skepticism that exists in regards to crew satisfaction.

Balancing Expectations

As the maritime industry is becoming more customer-centric with end-users – in most cases, passengers and merchants – expecting at shore, in port, and offshore connectivity, the same solutions should be applied to attract and retain crew in an industry where there is a huge shortage of qualified personnel to bring onboard.

Adhering to the lack of corporate commitment to crew satisfaction, the popularity of land-based connectivity has also re-defined crew expectations with a twofold nature:

From a young generation that aspires to access uninterrupted offshore connectivity to keep in touch with friends and family in remote locations, to the reluctance of senior seafarers and other experienced crew to continue their nautical careers in search of more stabilised and less isolated, land-based working opportunities.

Ever since the Internet became part of our lives, connectivity has also changed the way seafarers rank their life priorities.

As a matter of fact, another survey on crew communications, by Stark Moore McMillan, reported that 70% of Filipino seafarers are prepared and willing to assign a considerable amount of their income to pay for some online services.

Similarly, 68% of those surveyed had access to communications at sea, whereas only 46% had access to free services.

At the same time, Wi-Fi access ranked as the most desired service onboard based on the ability that seafarers had on connecting their devices for personal use.

Those findings suggest that crew communications still represent the vast majority of a ship’s consumption while big data-driven features and continuous deployment of sophisticated satellite antennas are prioritised for performance and cost-saving strategies.

Sustainable solutions

So, from a practical point, how can maritime employers (end-users) benefit from the opportunities given by SatCom service providers to elaborate effective recruitment and retention strategies in the new digital age?

In fact, solutions are more concerned with strategic planning rather than engineering mechanisms.

To close the gap between crew dissatisfaction and effective labour turnover management, sustainable human resources practices are mandatory.

Affordable communications

In the shipping sector, for example, the constant growth of the global fleet is not correlated to the decreasing number of seafarers available in the market. It is a simple case of supply and demand.

The provision of cheaper or even free access to email, social media, voice/video communications, and/or Internet café facilities is a key factor for crew to stay in touch with their friends and family, while reducing isolation and increasing motivation at work.

Telaccount Overseas, a Cyprian SatCom provider, has targeted its communications campaign to crew communications.

Not only has the company embraced the increasing pressure from ship operators to manage broadband connectivity for operational and safety needs, but it has also brought Telaccount iCafe services to help crew stay connected with everyone at home.

Using high data allowance plans, users are free to connect and browse online with a pin-code request to control usage rates and other features.

Training courses and career tools

A lack of modern equipment and training courses are also one of the most resonating issues that discourage crew from seeking career progression, causing lower retention rates and disloyalty.

Land-based and remote competence training options, including virtual simulation software and accredited career-oriented courses, should be facilitated for crew to learn new skills and grow in their careers.

Courses such as Lloyd’s Maritime Academy, Videotel, and Shipgaz are great online-accessed career tools that help crew keep in sync with the ever-changing maritime industry.

Commenting on results, Heidi Heseltine, Manager Director of Halcyon Recruitment, gave a final point on employee conditions for the shipping sector in 2015:

“Shipping industry employers need to focus on strategies to retain their best people. Whether this involves creating hierarchical structures, offering clear career progression or providing training, employers need to think outside of the box and offer more than just a salary. Shipping may still be an employer driven market, but more thought needs to be given to the stagnant conditions most employees feel they are in.”

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4916|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/nordwood-themes-359015-1024x683-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] Maritime communications have evolved at a phenomenal rate ever since broadband connectivity made a successful impact in the way people communicate with everyone at work. Since SatCom service providers offer new connectivity packages that allow for higher digital data exchange capacities, new broadband solutions for crew onboard are also emerging with different allocations of data and bandwidth needs. Just as our previous article – Is Enhanced Connectivity Worth The Investment - sea-to-shore communications are changing the lives of those people who spend much of their lives at sea. But rather than discussing how enhanced connectivity improves the lives of everyone on board, there is a situation of conflicting values in regards to service adoption and onboard crew communications. As VSAT installations are predicted to double over the next five years, Futurenautics Research reported that 42% of crew surveyed have not seen any improvement in the provision of onboard communications.

Neglecting crew satisfaction

This situation suggests that ship operators are only adopting new technologies to reduce costs, enhance operational efficiencies, and increase competitive advantage. This pattern has also shown that focusing on infrastructure innovations while keeping up with new hybrid satellite solutions for operational efficiencies, fails to overlap the excruciating skepticism that exists in regards to crew satisfaction.

Balancing Expectations

As the maritime industry is becoming more customer-centric with end-users – in most cases, passengers and merchants – expecting at shore, in port, and offshore connectivity, the same solutions should be applied to attract and retain crew in an industry where there is a huge shortage of qualified personnel to bring onboard. Adhering to the lack of corporate commitment to crew satisfaction, the popularity of land-based connectivity has also re-defined crew expectations with a twofold nature: From a young generation that aspires to access uninterrupted offshore connectivity to keep in touch with friends and family in remote locations, to the reluctance of senior seafarers and other experienced crew to continue their nautical careers in search of more stabilised and less isolated, land-based working opportunities. Ever since the Internet became part of our lives, connectivity has also changed the way seafarers rank their life priorities. As a matter of fact, another survey on crew communications, by Stark Moore McMillan, reported that 70% of Filipino seafarers are prepared and willing to assign a considerable amount of their income to pay for some online services. Similarly, 68% of those surveyed had access to communications at sea, whereas only 46% had access to free services. At the same time, Wi-Fi access ranked as the most desired service onboard based on the ability that seafarers had on connecting their devices for personal use. Those findings suggest that crew communications still represent the vast majority of a ship’s consumption while big data-driven features and continuous deployment of sophisticated satellite antennas are prioritised for performance and cost-saving strategies.

Sustainable solutions

So, from a practical point, how can maritime employers (end-users) benefit from the opportunities given by SatCom service providers to elaborate effective recruitment and retention strategies in the new digital age? In fact, solutions are more concerned with strategic planning rather than engineering mechanisms. To close the gap between crew dissatisfaction and effective labour turnover management, sustainable human resources practices are mandatory.

Affordable communications

In the shipping sector, for example, the constant growth of the global fleet is not correlated to the decreasing number of seafarers available in the market. It is a simple case of supply and demand. The provision of cheaper or even free access to email, social media, voice/video communications, and/or Internet café facilities is a key factor for crew to stay in touch with their friends and family, while reducing isolation and increasing motivation at work. Telaccount Overseas, a Cyprian SatCom provider, has targeted its communications campaign to crew communications. Not only has the company embraced the increasing pressure from ship operators to manage broadband connectivity for operational and safety needs, but it has also brought Telaccount iCafe services to help crew stay connected with everyone at home. Using high data allowance plans, users are free to connect and browse online with a pin-code request to control usage rates and other features.

Training courses and career tools

A lack of modern equipment and training courses are also one of the most resonating issues that discourage crew from seeking career progression, causing lower retention rates and disloyalty. Land-based and remote competence training options, including virtual simulation software and accredited career-oriented courses, should be facilitated for crew to learn new skills and grow in their careers. Courses such as Lloyd’s Maritime Academy, Videotel, and Shipgaz are great online-accessed career tools that help crew keep in sync with the ever-changing maritime industry. Commenting on results, Heidi Heseltine, Manager Director of Halcyon Recruitment, gave a final point on employee conditions for the shipping sector in 2015: “Shipping industry employers need to focus on strategies to retain their best people. Whether this involves creating hierarchical structures, offering clear career progression or providing training, employers need to think outside of the box and offer more than just a salary. Shipping may still be an employer driven market, but more thought needs to be given to the stagnant conditions most employees feel they are in.” [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Cruise Line Connectivity and Partnering Opportunities

Over the years, the cruise line industry has experienced a period of continuous evolution in regards to integral communications and information technologies. Many stakeholders are leading this charge, since broadband connectivity is becoming a crucial component whereby many passengers decide which cruise line offers the greatest connection of all. The idea of people going on a family/solo cruise to “escape” from ther routine and other obligations is fast becoming outdated.

Nowadays, passengers, along with crew, are demanding superior levels of connectivity and bandwidth at port, near port, and on board. Major cruise companies are aware of this consumer pattern and have diverted efforts towards a systematic level of collaboration and innovation in the industry. In synergy, satellite communication providers and cruise line operators are working together to capitalise on opportunities based on infrastructure, expertise, passenger experience, and efficiencies offered by partnering.

With more than 25 million global passengers projected to cruise this year, carrying aboard multiple sensor-enabled devices with them, cruise line operators are determined to enable the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) at sea to cure the urgency of costly manned processes and fragmented data management. Yet, its applicability requires a single unification of limitless data systems and a sharing architecture that facilitates end-to-end communications and industry optimisation.

In other words, the confluence of business and technical fashions in the pursuit of interoperability and standardisation of systems builds on incremental connectivity ashore, which is a detour to reach inexpensive and blazing-fast Internet connection for exigent passengers at sea. As an exemplification, it is imperative to observe how three top-tiered cruise line companies – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corporation, and Royal Caribbean Cruises – have announced strategic agreements with key satcom solution providers to respond to the demands of IoT at sea and meet the performance expectations of guests/crew on board.

To meet the growing demand for ship connectivity, EMC (now part of Global Eagle) has entered into a long-term strategic agreement with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings for the provision of high throughput satellite (HTS) links, infotainment, and other terrestrial services. Through major investments in new multi-band antennas that are allocated in multiple strategic angles and Wi-Fi infrastructure, Norwegian Cruise Line has achieved competitive advantage using Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) technology to have rich access to C-, and Ku-band frequencies at sea.

Auxiliary investments in terrestrial broadband networks and web browsing accelerating tools (in this case, EMC’s patented SpeedNet technology) were also implemented in the provision of superior passenger experience and online traffic management. Norwegian Cruise Line has strongly upgraded its Wi-Fi infrastructure to allow not only absolute, ship-to-shore connectivity, but also to develop smart switching technologies that enables passengers/crew to keep browsing using terrestrial links at port, while holding on to satellite links for operational and other core management priorities.

Similar efforts were also led by Carnival Corporation to further enhance guest-onboard experiences through major communication upgrades and innovation. The American-British cruise company signed a five-year contract agreement with Harris CapRock in 2013 to supply fully managed communication services to more than 100 ships across its ten global cruise line brands, using a multi-band VSAT system to enable vessels to power high bandwidth and connectivity under a flat-rate fee for social media usage.

Using the latest generation of iDirect communication technology, via hybrid C- and Ku band solutions, Harris CapRock masters the art of VSAT systems and infrastructure based on global coverage, specialised equipment, secured installation, ongoing maintenance, and, more importantly, 24/7 customer support centers to guarantee proactive monitoring and technical support. By expertise, Harris CapRock is committed to delivering highly improved bandwidth and performance with modern stabilised antennas systems in order to provide new services and infotainment solutions onboard.

Royal Caribbean Cruises has also established a strategic agreement with Harris CapRock to equip new Spacetrack stabilised antennas across its entire fleet, using a combination of Ku- and C-band connectivity. The main objective of the agreement is to provide reliable Internet access in order to attract younger passengers, help retain crew, and streamline operations while at sea. The Melbourne-based communications and IT provider has supplemented performance with the provision of advanced VSAT systems to increase bandwidth, reassigning satellite capacity on demand through a more secure and cost-effective angle.

The collaboration likewise integrates O3b’s medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite systems for two Royal Caribbean ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, to benefit from unmatched capacity, consistency, and coverage. Technically, MEO satellites, which orbit the earth at an altitude of approximately 8,000 kilometers, enable even higher bandwidth services as well as optimised Internet and broadband connectivity without experiencing the traditional satellite delays (lag). This new platform improves overall communications performance and guest/crew online experience through breaking-record Internet speed and reliable Wi-Fi capacity.

For the most part, the aforementioned cases explain how cruise ship operators contrastingly partner with major satcom providers to cope with their most perilous challenge – the fulfillment of passenger expectations. However, the key takeaway is that new global technologies that comprises cloud, IOT, mobile platforms, satellite, and big data management are helping turn connectivity challenges into sustainable end-to-end solutions for the maritime sector.

More importantly, cruise operators are required to keep prioritising technology strategies that encourage innovations to pursue an integrated, fully-managed satellite, wireless, and terrestrial connectivity platform to remain ahead of the curve. The ideal communication solution should also embrace hybrid systems, smart switching functions to increase performance at any given point during the voyage, and supporting applications to enhance passenger experience onboard.

Valour Consultancy will soon commence work on the second edition of its acclaimed report “The Future of Maritime Connectivity”. If you would like to learn more about how you can influence the scope of this research so that it more closely matches your needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="5000|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ferry-boat-123059_1920-1024x685-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text]Over the years, the cruise line industry has experienced a period of continuous evolution in regards to integral communications and information technologies. Many stakeholders are leading this charge, since broadband connectivity is becoming a crucial component whereby many passengers decide which cruise line offers the greatest connection of all. The idea of people going on a family/solo cruise to “escape” from ther routine and other obligations is fast becoming outdated. Nowadays, passengers, along with crew, are demanding superior levels of connectivity and bandwidth at port, near port, and on board. Major cruise companies are aware of this consumer pattern and have diverted efforts towards a systematic level of collaboration and innovation in the industry. In synergy, satellite communication providers and cruise line operators are working together to capitalise on opportunities based on infrastructure, expertise, passenger experience, and efficiencies offered by partnering. With more than 25 million global passengers projected to cruise this year, carrying aboard multiple sensor-enabled devices with them, cruise line operators are determined to enable the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) at sea to cure the urgency of costly manned processes and fragmented data management. Yet, its applicability requires a single unification of limitless data systems and a sharing architecture that facilitates end-to-end communications and industry optimisation. In other words, the confluence of business and technical fashions in the pursuit of interoperability and standardisation of systems builds on incremental connectivity ashore, which is a detour to reach inexpensive and blazing-fast Internet connection for exigent passengers at sea. As an exemplification, it is imperative to observe how three top-tiered cruise line companies – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corporation, and Royal Caribbean Cruises – have announced strategic agreements with key satcom solution providers to respond to the demands of IoT at sea and meet the performance expectations of guests/crew on board. To meet the growing demand for ship connectivity, EMC (now part of Global Eagle) has entered into a long-term strategic agreement with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings for the provision of high throughput satellite (HTS) links, infotainment, and other terrestrial services. Through major investments in new multi-band antennas that are allocated in multiple strategic angles and Wi-Fi infrastructure, Norwegian Cruise Line has achieved competitive advantage using Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) technology to have rich access to C-, and Ku-band frequencies at sea. Auxiliary investments in terrestrial broadband networks and web browsing accelerating tools (in this case, EMC’s patented SpeedNet technology) were also implemented in the provision of superior passenger experience and online traffic management. Norwegian Cruise Line has strongly upgraded its Wi-Fi infrastructure to allow not only absolute, ship-to-shore connectivity, but also to develop smart switching technologies that enables passengers/crew to keep browsing using terrestrial links at port, while holding on to satellite links for operational and other core management priorities. Similar efforts were also led by Carnival Corporation to further enhance guest-onboard experiences through major communication upgrades and innovation. The American-British cruise company signed a five-year contract agreement with Harris CapRock in 2013 to supply fully managed communication services to more than 100 ships across its ten global cruise line brands, using a multi-band VSAT system to enable vessels to power high bandwidth and connectivity under a flat-rate fee for social media usage. Using the latest generation of iDirect communication technology, via hybrid C- and Ku band solutions, Harris CapRock masters the art of VSAT systems and infrastructure based on global coverage, specialised equipment, secured installation, ongoing maintenance, and, more importantly, 24/7 customer support centers to guarantee proactive monitoring and technical support. By expertise, Harris CapRock is committed to delivering highly improved bandwidth and performance with modern stabilised antennas systems in order to provide new services and infotainment solutions onboard. Royal Caribbean Cruises has also established a strategic agreement with Harris CapRock to equip new Spacetrack stabilised antennas across its entire fleet, using a combination of Ku- and C-band connectivity. The main objective of the agreement is to provide reliable Internet access in order to attract younger passengers, help retain crew, and streamline operations while at sea. The Melbourne-based communications and IT provider has supplemented performance with the provision of advanced VSAT systems to increase bandwidth, reassigning satellite capacity on demand through a more secure and cost-effective angle. The collaboration likewise integrates O3b’s medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite systems for two Royal Caribbean ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, to benefit from unmatched capacity, consistency, and coverage. Technically, MEO satellites, which orbit the earth at an altitude of approximately 8,000 kilometers, enable even higher bandwidth services as well as optimised Internet and broadband connectivity without experiencing the traditional satellite delays (lag). This new platform improves overall communications performance and guest/crew online experience through breaking-record Internet speed and reliable Wi-Fi capacity. For the most part, the aforementioned cases explain how cruise ship operators contrastingly partner with major satcom providers to cope with their most perilous challenge - the fulfillment of passenger expectations. However, the key takeaway is that new global technologies that comprises cloud, IOT, mobile platforms, satellite, and big data management are helping turn connectivity challenges into sustainable end-to-end solutions for the maritime sector. More importantly, cruise operators are required to keep prioritising technology strategies that encourage innovations to pursue an integrated, fully-managed satellite, wireless, and terrestrial connectivity platform to remain ahead of the curve. The ideal communication solution should also embrace hybrid systems, smart switching functions to increase performance at any given point during the voyage, and supporting applications to enhance passenger experience onboard. Valour Consultancy will soon commence work on the second edition of its acclaimed report “The Future of Maritime Connectivity”. If you would like to learn more about how you can influence the scope of this research so that it more closely matches your needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]