SeaBookings, an online marketplace for watersports and boat tours in Portugal founded by two Dutch sisters, is taking its first steps towards international expansion with the support of Turismo de Portugal. Turismo de Portugal is the central public authority responsible for the promotion, enhancement and sustainability of tourism activities. In September 2016, SeaBookings was in São Paulo at the ABAV tourism fair at the invitation of Turismo de Portugal. The first half of 2017 also promises, as we will participate in Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, again with Turismo de Portugal.
Turismo de Portugal has maintained the strong commitment to stimulate the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in the tourism sector in Portugal. It is in this context that Turismo de Portugal has been launching competitions to select Portuguese startups to be invited to participate in a series of international tourism fairs where Turismo de Portugal participates with its own stand. This initiative aims to provide the startups with “market knowledge and international experience, preparing them to be able to present their projects with greater guarantee of success”.
SeaBookings at the ABAV ’16
In the second half of 2016, it was with great joy that SeaBookings received the news that it could participate in ABAV, the largest tourism fair in Brazil. Brazil has been part of SeaBookings’ strategic internationalization plan since its inception. Participating in this fair would be a concrete first step in that direction. In fact, SeaBookings, being focussed on the boat trips and watersports niche in Portugal, faces a strong seasonality. For this reason, among others, it makes sense for SeaBookings to expand to Brazil. By expanding to Brazil, we’ll be able to ensure a steady stream of revenue throughout the year. In addition, in terms of sea tourism, Brazil has enormous potential.
In fact, SeaBookings’ participation in the 44th ABAV proved to be very important for establishing contacts with potential partners in Brazil and other Latin American countries. At the fair itself, SeaBookings had the opportunity to establish contacts with hotels, travel agencies, media and other entities that will help to leverage the business in Brazil.
In addition to participating in the fair, SeaBookings’ team took advantage of the trip to Brazil to conduct a market study. We visited several bathing resorts between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to study the reality of maritime tourism in Brazil:
- What are the most popular boat tours and watersports?
- How do maritime operators work? What is their size?
- How “digital” are the maritime operators? Do they have a website? Do they have a booking system? How do they manage their bookings?
- Where do customers come from (which channels and nationality)?
The feedback from the Brazilian maritime operators regarding the activity of SeaBookings was very positive and it is a market with great potential. However, its “immaturity” has made us decide not to put Brazil on the expansion agenda yet and to bet firstly on the Mediterranean region.
SeaBookings at the Arabian Travel Market ’17
SeaBookings, being a marketplace, deals with both sides of the market. If on one hand we have the supply, with the maritime operators, on the other hand we have the demand, with the tourists. From the side of the tourists, we also work with travel agencies. Throughout the first years of the SeaBookings’ activity, we have found a great potential in the Arabian market, in terms of collaborations with agencies.
That is why SeaBookings applied to participate in the Arabian Travel Market taking place in April 2017. Once again, SeaBookings was able to show how important it would be to participate in this fair for its internationalization and was selected to participate. Thus, in April of this year, SeaBookings will go to Dubai with the aim of establishing contacts with travel agencies and other entities that can help boost the demand in SeaBookings by the Arabian market. In addition, we will always have an eye open to also meet maritime operators from the Middle East for a future expansion to this geography.
Our big “obrigado”!
We want to publicly thank Turismo de Portugal for their dedication and support to Portuguese startups in their internationalization. We believe that the participation of SeaBookings in these fairs makes it possible to give a boost in the visibility of maritime tourism in Portugal, attracting new tourists, and to prepare the internationalization of the SeaBookings offer. We are very grateful for having been selected twice in a row to participate in international fairs. We are very grateful for the trust Turismo de Portugal has in SeaBookings and we will do everything to make the most of our participation in the Arabian Travel Market.
Dubai, here we come!