Arranging the travel of a vessel’s crew is not a crew manager’s only job, but it can take up the most amount of their time, and with an estimated invisible workforce of 1.5 million working on the world’s ships, it’s easy to see why. Crew managers walk a taught tightrope, balancing the needs and wants of seafarers against the financial health of the ship, all whilst battling the winds of a turbulent industry.
With IMO’s theme for World Maritime Day, ‘better shipping for a better future’, in mind, ATPI Griffinstone takes a detailed look at the role of the crew manager and their importance to the future success of the maritime industry.
Travel patterns can change in minutes due to a range of factors such as weather patterns, which can be extremely costly if managers aren’t careful and ready for multiple contingencies. Rearranging travel can also waste a lot of time and cause unnecessary delays. A successful crew manager needs to master the art of balancing a number of influencing factors when deciding on the best course of action regarding crew rotations, such as cost of flights, availability, frequency of flights by approved airlines and immigration rules. Finding the balance between cost and routing allows managers to give a fair and comfortable deal to the seafarer as well as to the employer.
Recruiting and retaining the right staff is a huge priority for crew managers. Shipping is not always top of mind to younger generations considering their futures and so finding and training new talent is an industry-wide challenge. Staff shortages also mean that crew managers have to work harder to retain their staff, and the overall travel experience is key to maintaining on-board and offshore satisfaction.
Seafarer happiness, wellbeing and mental health is a topic currently gathering much discussion between crew managers. Keeping seafarers engaged and content at sea is key to retaining staff and encouraging future potential recruits to consider for a career at sea. A good crew manager should be able to provide support for all crew members as they move around the world and place focus on their pastoral needs.
Improved working conditions, training and professional development courses, plenty of opportunities for feedback and of course, detailed travel itineraries without multiple changes, can further increase seafarer satisfaction.
Often, crew managers can be up until the early hours of the morning to amend last minute changes or unexpected disruptions to planned rotations, so they need to feel supported. Managers need to know whether they can rely on having access to consistent global support. The right travel management partner can reduce and maintain costs of travel, and provide greater insight and control over data, as well as compliance, precision and boosted efficiency.
Effective communication is another essential element for crew managers, whether that’s between crew members, travel management services or travel suppliers. It’s important for crew managers to set guidelines and processes for streamlined communication to ensure that everything is shared and delivered to all corners of the globe. As investments in satellite technology continue, this becomes easier and the industry keeps moving in the right direction.
The role of a crew manager may seem straightforward, however there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle to connect for life at sea to be harmonious.
Article Written on Behalf of Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide (www.hellenicshippingnews.com) by Mr. Nikos Gazelidis, Global Head of Shipping at ATPI Griffinstone, the specialist marine and energy division of the travel management and events business, the ATPI Group. For more information please visit www.atpi.com/griffinstone and the ATPI Knowledge Hub.
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