Cover Story: Your People Don’t lose sight of what matters

website promoting maritime training centres based on the ‘Booking.com model’ is set to shake up the shipping industry, increasing competency and reducing accidents.

That’s according to former Shell Ship Management Managing Director Richard Turner, who set up tapiit maritime in early April. The Chief Executive Officer first thought of the idea three years ago and developed the concept with a friend and senior Microsoft developer in the Philippines.

“P&I is now fully about prevention, and with prevention it is a catch-22 syndrome. The first budget that is cut is training and you can see the stats – they speak for themselves,” said Mr Turner. “When you remove the training element accidents increase. There’s a definite correlation to competence and skills.”

The website works by acting as a marketing database to promote training centres and courses all over the world, with a live booking system. It is free to use for seafarers and shipping companies with revenue being generated by training centres paying a booking fee for each seat sold on a course, or by partnering up with tapiit and paying a monthly fee.

The driver for the idea was Mr Turner’s frustration at the unnecessary overspending of training costs and the amount of empty seats on courses.

“If you take your training budget and if you put somebody on a course, the cost of the course is only 20% of the cost. The rest goes on other things such as travel and accommodation,” said Mr Turner. “That is lost in the ether of training budgets.”

He said shipping companies were only using just a few of the training centres across the world, when there are around 20,000, meaning centres are not being used when it could be more convenient, such as on trading patterns, thereby saving costs.

“Many people think there are only around 100 to 150,” said Mr Turner. “Some people probably walk past a training centre every day and don’t even know it.”

He cited that there were around 1,000 training centres in the UK alone covering a wide range of courses such as crane operations, rope courses and first aid courses along with standard seafarer training.

When you input the type of course you are looking for, the site brings up the courses located the closest to you and gives users the ability to book there and then.

“We are a marketing company but we do a lot of other things as well. Part of some of the exciting things we are doing is you can do your passage planning and we can give you all the training areas in those places,” said Mr Turner.

“So, for a shipping company, you’ve just saved probably 80% and you are just paying the cost of the actual course.”

“If we can get a complete global map for a ship owner, ship manager, crew or even an individual that gives you such an idea of where to go for training.”

At the time of speaking to SMI the company had only been launched three weeks earlier but already had around 3,500 courses on the site offered through some 300 training centres.

“Training providers never run at 100% full. They are under-utilised a lot of the time and many training courses get cancelled a lot because they cannot be filled,” said Mr Turner.

He said many seafarers and indeed shipping companies would leave booking training courses until last minute and then could not find a suitable flight.

Tapiit maritime is hoping to tie up with a crew travel provider so the course and travel can be booked together in the process.

“Many times I have watched the training teams manage to get a course but then they can’t get a flight,” explained Mr Turner. “For me, it was very important that it was a one-stop shop.”

The website has been based on the Booking.com model whereby tapiit maritime is not the agent. Courses are all certified and further down the line there will be a rating system from an audit and feedback point of view.

Once tapiit maritime has been established over the next year, it is planned to roll out the tapiit brand to other sectors with the website covering close to 20 industries such as medical, agriculture and construction.

“We have focused on maritime because that is what we know,” explained Mr Turner, who was with Shell Ship Management in the Isle of Man for just over five years, and was a former seafarer himself. “However, when I’ve been talking to pilots in the aviation industry, it’s similar.”

The response from shipping companies had so far been “fantastic” he said. “They seem to have got it straight away.”

He added: “By doing this, and speaking to the P&I clubs and the flags, if we can get budgets down, that means they are not going to get caught out. It means people will train more, which will get competence levels up, which will better the industry. Choice always improves an industry and that is what we are trying to do.”