Brittany Ferries

Designing an effective commercial function that was fit for the future for a travel and tourism leader.

Brittany Ferries was originally founded in 1973 to transport onions from France to the UK. Today, it’s a successful travel and tourism business that carries passengers and freight between Spain, France, the UK and Ireland.A household name, Brittany Ferries is a firm favourite with families and freight companies as it offers affordable connections to the West Atlantic Coast. But with a large and dispersed commercial team, the lack of clarity around accountability and decision making was affecting internal structures, performance and the wider success of the company.

Challenge

Brittany Ferries relies on customers from the UK travelling by ferry to destinations in France and Spain. The commercial team plays a critical role in defining and marketing travel offers and making sure customers are happy from when they first book their journey to when they drive off the ferry.

Historically, this team had been organised along market lines with no measured KPIs beyond reservation numbers and no clear accountability for the overall customer experience across digital and physical channels.

An additional complexity was that the team of 250 people were based in nine locations across four countries, each with different languages, cultures and employment law conditions. So Simon Johnson, the Chief Commercial Officer, asked us to support a review of the team structure and ways of working.

Approach

Given the size of the team impacted, we decided to run two parallel design processes. We also created a steering committee chaired by the CCO with participation from HR, the CEO and Metalogue to connect both processes and provide clear governance.

The design process itself took three months and started with over 50 interviews with stakeholders, team leaders and staff members to understand what was working well with the current structure and what wasn’t.

This process highlighted confusion around accountability, and there was a real lack of data to measure performance and support decision making. So through a series of virtual workshops, two design teams, including digital and operations leaders, came up with recommended designs. The CCO then reviewed and validated these, presenting them to the CEO and committee for sign-off.

To get ready for final sign-off, we prepared a detailed business case and implementation plan over an 18-month period, which included a transparent and robust internal and external recruitment process that provided assurance on the level of capability in key roles. The plan also delivered change management support as well as transition coaching for key leaders to help new recruits realise success.

Outcome

The overall design process and new structure was well received by the teams and union representatives. In the workshops, people focussed on what was needed for the future, which allowed for productive creative thinking and the dismantling of some historic patterns.

As a result, the new design was an important step forward for the commercial team and the business as a whole. High levels of involvement meant that the decisions were well understood.

Today, working relationships with other parts of the business are more effective thanks to clarity around decision making and respective accountabilities, while strong implementation support has meant that key individuals have stayed on and stepped up into new roles.

As Brittany Ferries begins its post COVID recovery renewing the fleet with the arrival of three new vessels, the commercial leadership team is highly respected internally thanks to their ability to report on commercial performance with solid data they can trust.
And in the wider industry, Brittany Ferries are winning plaudits in the travel marketing awards.

Brittany Ferries

“The review was excellent and was critical in setting the groundwork for our current success. The process was both engaging, and rigorous. We involved the team in designing the right structure for us going forward, we had a really well thought through communication and implementation plan and we manged to internally promote and externally hire some great talent. We’re now much better positioned to deliver the numbers that the business needs and are demonstrating that.”

Simon Johnson, Chief Commercial Officer, Brittany Ferries

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