Founded earlier this week, February 10th 2014, the Portuguese start up SeaBookings aims to enhance maritime tourism in Portugal. It is an online platform where visitors can search, compare and buy tickets for maritime activities, such as boat tours, kayaking, surfing, diving, etc.
SeaBookings was founded by Femke Irik, only 22 years old, along with her sister, Bo, and friend, Márcio Sousa.
Femke, originally Dutch, living in Portugal since she was 8 years old and graduated in Management from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, has been working in the marine tourism industry for 5 years, in Lagos, and quickly sensed this unique opportunity.
In her last year of university, while participating in the Nova Idea Competition, where the project was in third place, Femke joined a group of friends and began to carve SeaBookings. The project will be launched in the Algarve and aspires to quickly cover the entire Portuguese coast, and eventually become a world leader in this niche market.
“SeaBookings approaches the tourist to maritime-tour operators, which, due to their small size, typically do not have an online booking engines" says Femke, "the open rating system and reviews will certainly have a positive effect on the quality of service provided by operators”.
The online platform by SeaBookings arises to solve a sub-optimal situation in the maritime tourism sector involving two agents: the maritime-tour operators and tourists. On one hand, most of these operators in Portugal manage bookings manually, leading to problems like overbookings and other mismatches. On the other hand, tourists only have the opportunity to purchase tickets for maritime activities once they have reached their destination, since only a small minority of operators offer direct bookings online.
Thus, SeaBookings provides a system and platform benefits for:
• The maritime-tour operators - an integrated online booking system and an additional distribution channel (online);
• Tourists - an aggregated platform where the best maritime activities can be easily compared, selected and bought at a discount.
The idea is straightforward, simple and functional. In this initial stage, SeaBookings is in a process of raising partners: maritime-tour operators who want to increase their sales and systematize them online.