Earlier this week, Maersk announced the advent of their new instant booking confirmation tool, according to an article on Splash247.
This new tool will go beyond Maersk’s current online booking portal – which allows users to easily enter all essential information in order to reserve space with Maersk Line, then wait roughly two hours to receive a booking confirmation. The instant booking tool differs in that once the user submits their booking request, they will receive the booking confirmation within seconds after clicking “submit.”
Maersk has compared this new feature to being as easy as booking a flight online. With the incorporation of a mobile app, bookings can be made from anywhere at any time – with instant return. The Maersk Line, Sealand, and Safmarine brands will all have the instant booking confirmation feature for dry cargo shipments. Reefer, hazardous, and inland container yard options will likely be included in the future.
The shipping industry is growing at an exponential rate, and the underlying theme is “bigger, better, faster.” So, this new instant feature is relevant and necessary, especially for fast-paced industries like commodity trading or the movement of waste and scrap materials. In this industries, a two-hour wait for a booking confirmation could mean the loss of business.
But, will this tool be able to cover all of the many and diverse needs of a client?
Among the key features projected for the instant booking tool are: “visibility of sailing options with available vessel space, a list of depots with available empty containers to choose from, and certainty that a booking will not be cancelled at a later stage.” These features are good, but almost too good to be true.
It is difficult to imagine that depots in and around a port like New Orleans – notorious for container shortages – will be shown with a list of places to choose from during peak season. It seems more likely that container shortages will take effect and clients will need to consider inland depots – not yet eligible for instant booking confirmations.
Furthermore, Maersk says they will provide certainty that bookings will not be cancelled at a later stage. Could we call this certainty a guarantee? We all know that word is taboo in the shipping industry, as few things can be guaranteed in the world of international shipping. The only guarantee is that nothing is guaranteed (except great customer service.) It will be interesting to revisit this promise once the tool is heavily-utilized when it becomes high-season for commodity shipping. Traditionally, that is the time when carriers crack-down on bookings and hand out plenty of cancellations due to space allocation.