Wednesday, October 17, 2012

International Law and Shipping in Portugal

Dear Beta Starters Sea Edition VI 2012,

Dear All,

It is with great pleasure that I endorse all initiative aiming at improving shipping in Portugal, such as this edition of Beta Start.

Congratulations on your initiative, Beta-i!

I am not just saying this because I am a shipping professional, but because I am a Sea enthusiast. Also, because I am proud of my Portuguese and Greek family heritage, that is to say that the Sea is really part of my life. 

Another thing I found particularly impressive during my participation in the program is the very advanced IT skills of both startups and coaches.

During the last few weeks I have been asked repeatedly whether, instead of promoting the start up of a real, independent shipping company, I should perhaps consider developing some software that will supposedly cure the problems of modern shipping.

One person even suggested that I develop a computer program recruiting crew automatically, on its own.

Well, let me put it to you this way:

In my view, it is not possible to substitute human judgement with an app or any other software. You can try making your life easier in terms of data storage and information processing, however, it is not possible to allow a computer to think for you.

Imagine what would happen if a computer was to become responsible for the recruitment of Captains and Chief Engineers: any person acting in bad faith would compromise the integrity of the recruitment process.  

Moreover, imagine what would happen if a cargo shipment would be loaded in a container onboard a vessel without the Master of the vessel having the time to inspect the cargo for defects prior to loading and handing over possession and liability of the cargo to the carrier or buyer (depending on the terms of the charter party).

In short, imagine if the law allowed for any cargo to be dispatched automatically, with zero screening and without further communication issued or exchanged between carrier and shipper and/or rights transferred, or the contract of carriage not being capable of being varied, amended, or terminated.

If this was to happen, then, exporters would be free to export poor quality/defective products and would cause the automatic collapse of the importers and/or the carriers, thus sinking the world economy into a black hole.

Unless ofcourse we are talking about utopia-shipping.

Portugal, otherwise a world leader in automatic processing, especially in payment, has been very cautious with some voices calling for the implementation of oversimplified shipping/dispatch systems and has thus refused to date to approve any deviation from the existing legal framework, applicable since the late seventies.

Therefore, any such automated shipping processes would be unrealistic and illegal under Portuguese and International Law.

This is why I choose to focus on our original idea of launching a real shipping company in Portugal (something our country really needs) and whose innovation stems from the type and range of its services, rather than the means used to achieve performance of such.

Many thanks,



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Apart from very large and consolidated markets, where rating agencies perform their best, all other market size analysis must refer to comparable data. An expression of intention on the touch points for the acquisition of this service or of a comparable, would be a reasonable indicator.
The information collected at this touch point refers to the available information/recommendation and to the willingness to acquire by the potential customer.
The decision is done by strong impulse, on a most well known situation by the marinas where the operators have a sales stool/stand and a promoter urges the customer to take the boat that is leaving, or by a softer approach where stand ups are used on the many souvenir kiosks around the city down town; this last example in very heavy traffic areas can be used with a promoter.
In all cases a previous qualification of traffic in terms of willingness to acquire the service is mandatory. In Lisbon, there are areas of intense traffic that apparently do relate to the profile of our customers, whereas others apparently relate little. Examples of the first are Baixa, Belém and the touristic buses hub of Marquês de Pombal, and of the latter is the sub way, or the other commercial shopping areas/malls.
Moving a bit upper on the ‘rational scale’ for acquiring the service, we may find that advisors are a strong element in the mechanism of the decision to schedule a certain service into leisure time, despite the fact that there is a larger lapse of time between advising and acquiring the service. In this case, the possibility of the advisor to book the service is important. This is illustrated by customers asking the concierge of the hotel for a desired program or checking the local guides in the form of booklets, leaflets or the internet.
A survey could be arranged for the three identified acquisition touch points: the hotel concierge, the souvenir kiosk and the best marina location.