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CalMac confirms October start date for major new digital ticketing and reservations system

The UK's largest ferry operator, CalMac, has announced today (Thursday 21 April) that a new digital ticketing and reservations system is to be introduced across its network in October.

The state-of-the-art system will replace the company's existing 25-year-old ticketing process and will offer customers greater choice on the purchase, management, and use of tickets, including the ability to carry them on a smart device.

It will also introduce a range of improvements including multiple vehicles on a single booking, and selected concession fares will be available to purchase online for the first time.

Improved data and capacity management via the new system will also help better manage the use of deck space on CalMac's major vessels.

Robbie Drummond, CalMac Managing Director, said: "This exciting project will revolutionise the way in which we interact with customers by offering more choice and flexibility for everyone using the 29 CalMac routes to more than 50 destinations around Scotland's west coast.

"Our staff will be given in-depth training on the new system so that we can provide a smooth transition for our passengers. We are confident that this new system will deliver positive results for our business users, island visitors and those who use our lifeline services on a daily basis."

It will be delivered by leading ferry industry ticketing system provider E-Dea, which has over 19 years' experience in delivering similar projects to the Ferry, Cruise and Port sectors.

The new system, 'eBooking', is currently being used by several operators and is in use in 94 ports across the world and manages circa 48 million passengers and 18 million vehicles each year.

The project team has engaged with more than 4,500 customers and has extensively tested the customer-facing elements of the new system. A comprehensive face-to-face training programme involving over 700 CalMac staff is underway, and the company will also undertake an extensive customer and stakeholder engagement programme to explain the new system and to showcase its benefits.

Robbie Drummond added: "We will use the time between now and October to introduce stakeholders and customers to the new system and continue the extensive training programme we have already implemented for our staff.

"The decision to go 'live' in the quieter October period was taken to avoid the introduction of a completely new system during the height of the busy summer season. Choosing October reduces the risk of any potential disruption for island businesses and life during their busiest period.

"The CalMac team are confident 'eBooking' will be a significant improvement in the customer experience and a welcome development for our business."


Notes to Editor

The Ar Turas project team has sought the views of more than 4,500 customers and has extensively tested the customer-facing elements, which has led to changes in the way in which the system will operate, but also helped ensure the implementation date was right for all involved.

The overwhelming feedback from that process was not to introduce Ar Turas over the busy summer period, and whilst there had been discussion about an earlier introduction date, the company has listened to that advice and will be launching the new system in October.

CalMac is the UK's largest ferry operator, running 29 routes to over 50 destinations, across 200 miles of Scotland's west coast. The fleet of 33 vessels completes approximately 136,000 sailings a year, with crossings ranging from five minutes to seven hours.

The eBooking system being introduced by CalMac is currently in operation in 94 ports across the world and is used by 48 million passengers and 18 million vehicles annually who travel with major ferry organisations including Grimaldi, Scandlines and BC Ferries.

The original plan had been to potentially introduce the new system in March 2022, but the rapid rise in Covid-19 infections we faced earlier in the year has meant the extensive hands on training we had planned for more than 700 colleagues - to make sure those who will be using the system are fully confident with it - was not able to be progressed. Covid infections also prevented integrated working with our supplier during the early part of the year.

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