Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Robbie Drummond, CalMac
06 December 2022
Associate Feature: Digital changes on the horizon for CalMac

Partner content

Associate Feature: Digital changes on the horizon for CalMac

“Navigating the waters, ensuring life thrives wherever we are” is CalMac’s main purpose, and we understand just how important it is for our island communities to connect people. Customers are the heart of everything we do, and they deserve seamless journeys from the point of making a booking until they disembark.

In KPMG’s latest study of customer excellence, researchers found that digital connections becoming the main determining factor in improving customer experience. People want channels that are friendly and easy to use, so it is vital that technology should match this expectation.

CalMac is on the verge of exciting changes as we shift towards a digital first environment. Early in 2023, we will be introducing a modern booking, ticketing, and travel experience. One of CalMac’s largest ever projects, this will provide a streamlined and more effective booking experience for customers.

The current booking system has been in place for 25 years and is not fit for purpose. It can be slow with little choice, leading to frustration for customers, and the process is clunky and cumbersome for staff to use.

This new digitally enabled solution will simplify processes to maximise the amount of bookable space onboard our ferries. The new system, eBooking, will save time by calculating deck space at the touch of a button.

For the first time, our 14 “turn up and go” routes will be available for online purchase. For bookable services, we are opening broader and simpler self-service options. Customers will also be able to access concession and blue badge tickets online, which is not possible with the current system.

When a sailing is disrupted, our teams manage a major workload, calling customers and moving bookings to alternative sailings. The eBooking software will allow us to manage the transfer of qualifying bookings automatically, allowing us to focus on customer service, and getting vessels back to work.

As part of this digital transformation, we have implemented a Customer Relationship Management system. This supports how we manage customers by providing improved management intelligence, resulting in an enhanced and more intuitive customer experience.

 Through our customer experience team, the introduction of journey mapping software has moved us out of the realm of static excel sheets to a more intuitive channel. This cloud-based system identifies key areas for improvement throughout the customer journey (before, during and after the customer engages with us). It enables us to consolidate, review and track key insights, so that we can identify any gaps and use this to improve customer experience.

Also being developed is a new website and a new CalMac app which are set to go live in early 2023. These will give customers a more streamlined online experience, while the website will also highlight and celebrate the company’s achievements and will showcase all that our islands have to offer.

We recently upgraded our network connectivity in ports and vessels. The upgraded Wi-Fi uses a 4G mobile network to create a better onboard experience. We are now seeing a significant increase in data usage as a result of this upgrade, which will also support the new ticketing and reservations system. 

Our digital transformation extends to other areas of the business, including the Asset Management team, which is responsible for all the engineering activity on the vessels. This team is leading on a project to transform the way that engineering activity is managed.

The project will introduce a modern system which can digitally process and manage engineering activity across the fleet. This includes defect trend analysis, vessel condition assessment and enhanced management information. The system will enhance vessel resilience as the fleet ages and turns over with new vessels coming into service over the next five to 10 years.

Digital transformation continues to grow at a rapid pace, and CalMac will embrace customer’s changing and high expectations. We intend to put CalMac at the forefront of innovation and change in the travel industry, delivering seamless travel experiences.


This article is sponsored by CalMac. 

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top