Police action hits traffic in Dover

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Police checked thousands of lorries on roads heading towards Dover. Lorries and cars were delayed by up to 10 hours.

For once, we can’t blame COVID-19. That lorries and cars heading for Dover were due to a police search.

Jesper Christensen, Operations Director Channel, writes: “Police started on Tuesday at 05:00 local time with checks of all vehicles (lorries, tourist and staff cars) entering the Port of Dover as part of a search for a named individual. Similar checks were also made at Eurotunnel and other ports in the UK. The checks were carried out within the port by Kent and Port of Dover Police. They were supported by Sussex Police on Wednesday, with some 35 officers searching vehicles. The remaining tourist traffic wasn’t significantly affected, but freight traffic was backed up the A2 and A20 (at some stage in a 9-mile queue). Ferries unfortunately sailed with only 1/3 to 1/2 of the deck utilised for most of the day. The police have now stood down the search and we are working on clearing the freight traffic, but it will be Thursday before the last vehicles have been shipped.

“We apologise for the significant delays to our freight customers and have done our outmost to speed up the flow through the port. A big thank you to freight sales for keeping customers up to date and for the staff in the port and on board for looking after the drivers once clear of the Police search.”

BU Cold Chain opens office in Dover

Logistics BU Cold Chain has established a new office in Dover. The office is already up and running with three new colleagues supporting the international business passing through Dover.

BU Cold Chain was established right after the launch of our Win23 strategy and is based on the ambition to grow in selected industries, including temperature-controlled transport. With Eddie Green at the helm, the BU quickly took a number of initiatives to form its management and structure to take advantage of the great potential in the huge and growing industry.

Most recently, they decided to establish a Cold Chain office in Dover. “Thanks to great cooperation between Rutger van der Linden, Matt Odell, Scott Mullen and Geert Liefhooghe in Cold Chain’s management team, we were able to seize an opportunity to recruit three experienced operators from a failing competitor in a matter of days and, thanks to Kasper Moos, they will work from the Eastern Channels office in Dover,” says Eddie Green, Head of BU Cold Chain.

“It is not a big team, but it is in a very good location where it will be able to support and develop the international business passing through the Channel. I am confident our new colleagues will provide value to our customers as well as DFDS and in cooperation with the Cold Chain network have potential to grow.”

DFDS are delighted to sponsor the White Cliffs Christmas Ice-Extravaganza for third year

The annual White Cliffs Christmas Event is back at Dover’s historic Cruise Terminal One for the fourth year, with DFDS as the main sponsor for the third year running.

Father Christmas and his friendly elves make a welcome return accompanied by some well know characters to open the festivities on 1 December. Taking up residence in his grotto, Father Christmas will meet and greet children giving out presents galore.

There is also a bustling Christmas market offering a wide range of craft and gift ideas, complemented by a variety of live music, a variety of children’s rides and tasty food and drink stalls.

Adding to the seasonal mood is the hugely popular undercover real ice-rink, creatively branded in a DFDS festive scene.

Catherine Jowett, Brand Manager of BU Short Routes and Passenger, says: “This is always a great, local event to be involved with and gives us the opportunity for brand exposure to increase our brand awareness, local press coverage and data capture, with DFDS staff at the event engaging with the local community.

DFDS has an exclusive offer of £5 off our Eastern Channel route each way, for all those attending this event, along with a fabulous family holiday at Efteling to be won in a prize draw. With over 100,000 people attending in 2018, this year is expected to be bigger and better than before.”



Calais Seaways saves Columbo

No day in PR is predictable and that especially goes for Fridays where anything can happen. For Naomi Harper, PR Manager, Friday the 11th was absolutely no exception. Listen to Naomi’s take on a memorable day.

I settled down for a quiet day of planning when the phone rang, as it so often does. Sometimes it is just a customer who has dialled the wrong number and is looking to get through to make a booking. On this occasion though, the gentleman called Adam on the end of the line sounded panicked and said it was an emergency. So there was no doubt in my mind that I had to help.

Adam explained that he and his wife, Yaneth, and their Boxer dog, Columbo, were on their way home from Calais. There had been an issue with Columbo’s pet passport and Eurotunnel wouldn’t accept it. Adam had to immediately return to the UK due to work commitments and to return a vehicle, so he had to leave his wife and dog in Calais.

His question to us was, after having Columbo’s pet passport re-stamped and waiting the required 24 hours, could they sail back with us the next day as foot passengers. They sadly could not as our Eastern Channel route doesn’t take foot passengers. I was, however, determined to find another way.

After checking with the team, we arranged a DFDS van to collect Yaneth and Columbo in Calais the next day and pop them onto Calais Seaways for a smooth crossing back to Dover. Yaneth enjoyed a glass of prosecco in the Premium Lounge and treated Columbo to a toy from the on-board shop.

Adam then met them at the Port of Dover for a safe onward journey. Additionally, Adam mentioned afterwards that he’s a business studies lecturer at a university and would be using DFDS as a case study to show his students how a business should treat its ‘potential’ customers and win them as actual customers.

It was brilliant team work, pulling this together at the last minute to bring these passengers back to the UK, so thank you to Cyril Bourgois in Calais, Therese Boullot on Calais Seaways, Guy Ellis in Dover, Jesper Christensen and Gemma Griffin.

First ever DFDS Temple Ewell run

Thanks to Naomi Harper, PR Manager, BU Short Routes & Passenger, for sending this story.

On a slightly grey and soggy Sunday 13 October DFDS Dover sponsored the first ever DFDS Temple Ewell 10k run, starting and finishing at picturesque Kearsney Abbey, a couple of miles from the Whitfield office and port of Dover.

PTFA (Parent Teach and Family association) chair Vicky Chambers says: “It’s a small school and we are always looking for funds to help. The idea for the run came from knowing that Dover didn’t have its own running event, while most of its neighbouring towns do. But it had to be something different to attract interest, and we hoped by offering a multi-terrain route that we might get our new event off to a great start – helped by DFDS’s backing for at least three years.”

The running community liked the idea too, as the target of 300 entrants was reached easily, coming from all over Kent and even far beyond – one runner travelled from Leicestershire.

After some words of wisdom and a great send off from local hero and 1976 Olympics Team GB marathon runner Barry Watson, also a former teacher at the Temple Ewell school, the pace slackened early for the steep gradient to Scotland Common, which then opened onto a flatter route on the Minnis and around Ewell Minnis, before the descent back to the abbey.

But the mixed route earned a thumbs up from locals and visitors alike: “It was lovely to have an event on our own doorstep and it was an excellent course,” said Ladies’ V35 winner Rachel Tappenden (Dover Road Runners) who covered the 10k in 51m 42sec.

Joint Race Director Glenn Mousley said: “The race ran smoothly despite wet conditions underfoot. We spent a considerable amount of time on the course the day before, spreading straw to improve grip for the runners and this paid off with some excellent performances. It’s a new race and we were really pleased with the support from local runners. We look forward to welcoming them back next year.”

Medals were awarded to all participants, while the trophies were presented by Kasper Moos and Temple Ewell C of E Primary School Head Teacher Angela Matthews.

DFDS employees that took part included Gemma Nightingale, Clive Allon, Owen Hides, Stefanie Morris, Mark Hazard, Andrew Meek, Alex Ledger, Adam McCarthy and Bradley Ellison.

“DFDS is delighted to support an event that delivers a double benefit for the Dover community where we are based, and I must congratulate the enthusiasm of the runners in such overcast conditions,” says Kasper Moos.

Amazingly the total raised for this event was just over £4,000 with all profits going to the Temple Ewell Church of England Primary School PTFA (Parent Teach and Family association) fund which provides vital equipment for the school such as computers, furniture and educational trips.

DFDS have agreed a three-year sponsorship commitment to boost the port town’s athletics community as well as the funds of the primary school in Temple Ewell village, so there’s time now to start training for next year’s run!

Thanks too goes to Monika Copley for providing the new DFDS mascot costumes on the day and support from Laura Charlton, Paul Robson, Lewis Mackie and Ray Currie who helped on the day.

Great visit to Dover

On board Dunkerque Seaways, Torben Carlsen visited the new coffee shop where he met some of the fantastic crew members who always offer fantastic service: With Torben in the front, from left: Viktorija Iljina and Olivia Moroney, and in the background Steve Newbery and Gary Hardwick, on-board services.


Earlier this week I went to see our colleagues in Dover which was highly energizing through meetings with various departments and a tour onboard Dunkerque Seaways.

On board Dunkerque Seaways, I experienced at first hand the new coffee shop concept where I met Viktorija Iljina and Olivia Moroney, enthusiastic crew members securing its success. Afterwards at the office, I was encouraged by our freight performance on the Channel by Wayne Bullen and his team, and I was blown away by the enthusiasm of Cheryl Hawes and her super skilled customer service team – to name but a few of the many talented and committed people I met. My visit also included meetings with Kasper Moos, Jesper Christensen, Chris Parker, Steve Newbury and Andrew Meek before finishing the visit with a town hall meeting where I was overwhelmed by the energy and support from the whole Dover office and their commitment to the success of DFDS.

Torben Carlsen, CEO

Torben Carlsen’s view of Dover when he left Dunkerque Seaways and took this picture of Channel head Kasper Moos, Steve Newbery and Gary Hardwick walking down the ramp.

Torben also met and was deeply impressed with Cheryl Hawes and her talented freight customer service team.

Eastern Channel teams look back on a busy high season

The crew from Calais Seaways, who are also in the final for the Team of the Year award!

The summer period is always a very busy season for our BU Short Routes & Passenger colleagues, and this year they have plenty of achievements to be proud of.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Short Routes & Passenger, says: “Lots of preparation goes into getting ready for the high season, from welcoming new colleagues to supporting the extra volume of passengers on board and ashore, and launching new seasonal products in our outlets on our vessels. It’s all hands on deck in all areas of our organisation, and it’s all go, go, go!”

“We have the great privilege of meeting so many wonderful customers who have chosen to make DFDS part of their annual holiday. Between 15 July and 2 September, we welcomed 1,114,995 tourist and freight passengers and a total of 414,156 vehicles at our port and on board our ferries sailing on the Dover ‒ France routes.

Our check-in staff were ready to greet them all with big smiles. In most cases, this is our customers’ first human interaction with DFDS, as 80% of bookings are made online, so first impressions count, and our teams at the port ensure that the service delivered is positive and memorable, in order to leave an permanent and positive impression of DFDS,” says Steve.

The high season has been a great success, but sometimes things can go wrong and this can have an impact on both customers and services.

“We had to cancel 14 out of 2612 sailings due to a technical problem but mostly was due to extreme weather conditions which hit the English Channel on 9 and 10 August. We also experienced a heat wave, with temperatures rising to above 30c in the UK, which makes working conditions difficult, but our teams powered on. Delft Seaways lost its air conditioning on one round-trip, but the crew acted swiftly and offered free ice cream and water to our guests to ensure they were as comfortable as possible.

Colleagues from France came to Dover to help on the assembly lanes for the busy exits, and similarly our UK colleagues travelled to France to support with the busy returns. A big thank you to all our customer-facing teams on board and ashore for their continued teamwork and dedication. We are also extremely excited to have two teams from our Eastern Channel Business in the final of Team of the Year Award, so that is something else to celebrate. Congratulations and good luck to Freight Sales and Calais Seaways,” says Steve.

Jesper Christensen, Operations Director of BU Short Routes & Passenger, is also very grateful for the good work by all the teams at Eastern Channel over this very busy summer.

He says: “Our teams have plenty to celebrate and be proud of. We have received great feedback from our customers about our staff and services on board and ashore, and we have also seen a positive response to the launch of our new Horizon Pizza & Pasta food concept and the Pirate Island Children’s Activity Packs issued at check-in. Our passengers have also praised us on the extra attention we have provided to pets travelling with us onboard and on both sides of the Channel which is extremely positive.

Our Customer Entertainment associates have entertained our junior guests, and the new birthday celebration activities have been well-received. Average turnaround times remained on target and our fuel consumption has also remained at a very respectable level too. Great achievements all round! The senior management team and I would like to thank all our teams on board and ashore for their continuous hard work and dedication over the busy holiday period.”


BU Short Routes and Passenger support Kent Police for their Open Days

The PR team were very surprised and happy to receive a personal letter from Tony Pledger, Head of SB & CT Border Policing from Kent Police along with a plaque both of which are now proudly mounted in the Dover office.

The PR department in BU Short Routes and Passenger get numerous requests every month – from filming on board our vessels to supporting charitable endeavours and providing support to local communities and events – no day is ever the same.

Karen Ashwell, Brand & PR Specialist, says: “Last month we were delighted to support Kent Police for their Open Days, an event open to the public which enables them to engage with local communities in a unique way, showcasing the wide variety of work that they carry out in protecting the public and making Kent a safe place to live.”

“We provided them with a variety of DFDS branded merchandise, brochures and donated a number of prize vouchers in support of a competition they ran over the weekend. There were over 15,000 visitors that attended the event despite some of the highest temperatures seen so far this year with around 600 volunteers attending.”

After the event, the PR team were very surprised and happy to receive a personal letter from Tony Pledger, Head of SB & CT Border Policing from Kent Police along with a plaque both of which are now proudly mounted in the Dover office.

“The Kent Police commented that they were ‘blown away’ by DFDS’ generosity and valued our partnership. Regularly engaging in these types of events and requests whether small or large, continue to underpin the DFDS values and ethos of our business and help us expose our brand to new customers,” says Karen.

Watch a video of the event here

Royal recognition for Gemma Griffin

Gemma Griffin has been awarded an MBE for her work with people evolution and many other contributions to shipping and UK employment


At DFDS we don’t need any proof that Gemma Griffin, VP of HR and Crewing, is a very special person. But now we do have the proof nevertheless. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Gemma was awarded royal recognition and is now a Member of the British Empire – in full: Member of the most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or in short: MBE.

An MBE is usually awarded for notable contributions to arts and sciences, charitable or welfare organisation – or to public services such as Gemma’s outstanding contribution to employment, training and people evolution in the shipping Industry via her leading role in the UK Chamber of Shipping where she chairs its Employment Committee.

As a member of the Merchant Navy Training Board, she leads the industry’s Maritime Trailblazer Apprenticeship Committee and is also a member of the Department for Transport’s Merchant Navy Medal Board, which rewards people for their achievements in merchant shipping roles.

Through the Chamber of Shipping, Gemma helps to shape how UK employment law applies to shipping. She manages the relationships between shipping companies, unions and government, and shares best practice and talks to the Government on behalf of the industry.

“Congratulations from us all. Gemma deserves this honour more than anyone for her leading role in promoting careers at sea to young people, securing the industry’s future through a steady flow of new ratings and officers. And for her role in getting mental and physical wellbeing and greater opportunities for women on the agenda, a theme she presented to us – and moved us all with – at our annual management conference,” says Torben Carlsen.

“I’m very proud to become an MBE, and I want to accept the award as recognition for the many who have come together to deliver some fantastic work. I’ve had tremendous support from my team and colleagues at DFDS, the Merchant Navy Training Board team, our unions, and the other members of the Chamber,” says Gemma.

It took a special procedure to award the MBE to Gemma as she is a national of the Republic of Ireland. She grew up in Dublin and that she ended up with a leading role in the shipping industry seems only natural for someone who started her shipping career in a port and learned to drive a Tugmaster before a car. She holds degrees in Industrial Relations & Human Resources Management, and in English and History. She came to Norfolkline 24 years ago – and to DFDS with Norfolkline in 2010.

We, her colleagues, will allow ourselves to enjoy the shine that the stars cast on us. We are proud too.

BU Channel celebrates Mother’s Day

Trisha Sharman, Operations Co-Ordinator, Dover, presenting one of our lovely Mothers with a surprise access pass for herself and her husband to the Premium lounge and to enjoy a complimentary meal for two.

On 31 March the team in BU Channel celebrated the special ladies travelling with DFDS as it was Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a celebration to honour the mother of the family.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, says: “The teams in both Dover and Newcastle selected some special ladies and their families to a Premium Lounge Upgrade and a meal on our Dover routes and in Newcastle, we invited selected families to a complimentary meal in the Explorers Kitchen for them to enjoy together on their cruise to Amsterdam.”

“Other mums were presented with boxes of chocolates at check-in and in the loading lanes, and lots of delight was shared via our social media channels from our selected customers, which always brings a lot of smiles and great comments from our followers.”

“When we make the extra effort with these types of events, these complimentary rewards are always extremely well received. Thank you to Marisa Corbo and her team in Dover and to Jade Whitfield and her colleagues in Newcastle for looking after these lovely ladies on Mother’s Day,” says Steve.

Happy mothers in Dover:

And happy mothers in Newcastle:

Gathering knowledge and Customer Service Centre heads

Casper Puggaard, the new Global Sales & Service Director in BU Group Passenger has had a busy start to the year with his new job visiting various locations in the organisation. Last week in Dover, he had the pleasure of gathering all six Heads of our Contact Centres for a hand-over from Gemma Griffin. Gemma has been filling in as Interim Director in addition to doing her regular job as VP of HR and Crewing in the Channel.

“It was a really valuable meeting that included a fun and educational meet-and-greet session and a thorough review of the Passenger strategy. The contact Centre Heads have done a great job developing a functional strategy for their area, which fits perfectly with the overall strategy and direction for BUGP and DFDS. It is also extremely important for me to meet and build relations with colleagues from both within and outside of my team” says Casper.

The meeting also made room for an update on the great BUGP results from 2018, the BUGP Digital and IT strategy for 2019 and Gemma presented elements from the Bearing survey results for the Contact Centres.

“With the new strategy in place, I expect that we will be able to transform DFDS’ Contact Centre operation into a world-class, modern and digitised operation. I am really looking forward to continuing the journey, which we have just kicked off in the best possible way together,” says Casper.

Learning about the Channel

Prior to the meeting, Casper spent half a day with Operations Director Jesper Christensen and Gemma Griffin to learn about the market and the business on the Channel. Casper went with one of our Channel ferries to Calais and returned to Dover via Eurotunnel in order to experience one of our competitors on the Channel.

True cooperation: Shipping and Digital launch ecommerce for Freight in 67 days

On November 1st, we are live with a new offering to our Shipping customers on the Channel. “Spot” customers, who used to show up at the terminal and pay for a freight crossing with cash or a credit card, can now book a simple “No Fuss” freight ticket online in just a couple of clicks.

“We set out to provide the simplest possible product for our spot customers in the fastest possible time,” says Kasper Moos, Vice President & Head of BU Channel, who has been driving the initiative from a Shipping perspective. “Before, customers could buy freight crossings online from resellers and other providers, but not directly from us. Some of these resellers are strategic partners for us, and we are not trying to compete with them, but we are trying to offer an alternative to unauthorized resellers, as well as to provide the kind of service that our customers expect from us in a digital age. I encourage anyone inside DFDS who has an urgent need to book and buy a freight trip across the Channel to get out their credit card and buy a ticket here.”

As of today, customers can buy this one simple product – a one-way ticket in either direction between Dover and Calais or Dunkerque. Sales will be carefully monitored, and other web analytics data collected to evaluate how this performs. Going forward, this data will help the team to decide how to develop the ecommerce offering – with more types of ticket, value added services and/or across more routes.

Sophie-Kim Chapman, Vice President Digital and Marketing told us, “This is exactly the kind of cooperation we want to drive more of going forwards. Rather than Digital and IT teams working on a solution with the Business at somewhat of a distance, we have been working as one cross-functional team, including commercial and operational people from BU Channel, and with a very clear shared vision of speed and simplicity for the first launch.”

Sophie-Kim Chapman and Kasper Moos

The team who delivered this new digital freight experience worked with Lean Start-up and Design Thinking methods, and co-starred Robin Sedgwick and Cheryl Hawes (BU Channel), Anne-Kathrine Kjær Christensen (Product Owner, Digital), Caroline Lehman Nelson (UX Designer, Digital), Allan Houmark (Developer, IT), Kunuk Nykjaer (Developer, IT), Tommy Sørensen (Developer, IT), Jesper Bendtsen Kirkegaard (Tester, IT) plus consultants from Trifork. The team enjoyed support from Wayne Bullen and various other members of the BU Channel team, Legal, Finance, IT Architecture and the DIO for Shipping, Sean Potter.

BUGP Campaign Management team visits Dover

Last week the team held their quarterly meeting in Dover. Colleagues from Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK spent two rewarding days with meetings about marketing-related topics, education and getting to know each other better.

Celest Jansen, Head of Campaign Management, says: “We had a really interesting team meeting. It’s very important that our team, and especially the newcomers within the campaign team, visit the different locations in order to have an even better understanding of those parts of the business. The Dover office hold many important stakeholders for the campaign managers to work with, especially now that the IJmuiden – Newcastle route is part of BU Channel.”

Good reasons to be proud in Dover

Our colleagues in Dover have a very good reason for being proud – 915 days have now passed since their last Lost Time Accident.

Russell K. Challenor, Safety Manager, says: “About 138 staff here are operational and we believe that safety inductions combined with ongoing safety training are major contributing factors to help keep accidents so low. 915 days is a score that we are really proud of, well done everyone!”

Port of Dover introduces new pet exercise area

At Port of Dover, a brand-new exercise area has been established, to the delight of our furry guests and their owners.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, says: “Customer feedback is essential to us, and listening to our guests’ experiences allows us to continuously improve our products and services. We recently heard from some of our furry guests’ owners that the pet exercise area at Port of Dover was disappointing, and, as we could only agree with them, we initiated an upgrade of the area. It is extremely important that we have adequate facilities for dogs travelling with us to have an area to stretch their legs, prior to their onward journey onboard our vessels.”

The new exercise area was created in collaboration with the management team at Port of Dover, who agreed that investment was required. It serves both DFDS and P&O ferries.

The area is fenced off to provide safety for the dogs, with AstroTurf, activities and exercise equipment for the dogs to have some fun before boarding the ship.

Steve says: “The feedback from our pet owners has been extremely positive when our dedicated Pet Pals have been on duty at the port, and also via our social media channels. Thank you to Stewart Pearce, Terminal Operations Manager, for managing this project, and to the management team at Port of Dover for providing this excellent new facility.”

Last year, 65,000 dogs travelled via Dover with DFDS, and the number this year to date is 52,000, so no doubt this fabulous new exercise area will be highly appreciated.

BU Channel welcomes the most senior passenger on board Delft

On Wednesday 15 August our colleagues at BU Channel had the great pleasure of welcoming a special lady on board Delft Seaways. Amy Hawkins from South Wales was born in 1911 and is now the grand age of 107, which makes her the oldest guest ever to travel with DFDS. She was travelling home from Dunkerque with her family.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager for BU Channel, says: “The team met with Amy on board who said she really enjoyed her trip with us and would love to travel with us again. So, to accommodate Amy’s wishes and in celebration of this milestone, we offered Amy and her family a free-of-charge future crossing with Premium Lounge and Priority Loading upgrades. It was really something special to have Amy and her family on board and we are looking forward to seeing them again soon.”


BU Channel welcomes World Dog Show attendees to Dover

On 8 August BU Channel welcomed 24 dogs travelling from Dover to attend the World Dog Show in Amsterdam.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, says: “On the way to the terminal, our furry guests were travelling in a coach fully adapted to transport the beautiful dogs and their owners in the most comfortable manner.”

The DFDS Pet Pals – Jordan Wing, Assistant Manifest Supervisor, and Kerri Gay, Operations Coordinator – greeted the coach in the car lanes and provided some tasty treats before their departure.


“All dogs were given a pet travel kit which included a check-list for travelling at sea with pets , a pop-up water bowl and a bag of treats. The pets and their owners were overwhelmed by the special attention provided by DFDS. Thank you to the team involved in ensuring our guests felt safe and had a special time prior to boarding the vessel,” says Steve Garner.

BU Channel introduces auto-response SMS service

As reported last week, Eurotunnel experienced major delays due to the hot weather conditions, which resulted in an increase for live port and sailing information from our guests.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager for BU Channel, says: “Our guests were contacting us via our travel update channels as they were concerned if the delays and weather conditions were impacting the port of Dover and our services, but our talented team worked extremely hard to reply to all the posts on social media.
Due to the growing demand for travel updates, we needed to find a solution that could be implemented quickly were our customers could receive the latest information around the clock, so our SMS provider, Textlocal, created an auto-response SMS service where customers can text DFDS directly to receive the latest travel information, this was live, and our team were trained within hours, so we could meet this growing demand.
We already have an existing SMS service, but during high volumes of traffic this method can be a very time-consuming process, because we have to pull every mobile number booked on the sailing departure and transfer them to the Textlocal system.”

Steve concludes: “The feedback has been extremely positive with our guests informing us at check-in what an accessible and informative service this is.”

To use this new service text: 60777 DFDSDOVER when travelling from Dover, DFDSCALAIS when travelling from Calais, and DFDSDUNKIRK when travelling from Dunkerque.

Dazzling DFDS effort on record-breaking weekend!

Last week in Kent, Eurotunnel suffered severe delays when the air-conditioning systems on some of the trains failed to work. This resulted in more than two-hour delays before check-in and over four hours post check-in, and cancellation of some services.

There was a significant increase in the volume of traffic through the port and delays at UK Border Control that resulted in the town of Dover coming to a standstill over the weekend, unfortunately leading to delays for local people trying to get in and around Dover.

Massive congestion and delays including blocked highway lanes in Dover caused by extreme weather conditions

Once the issues with Eurotunnel became apparent, all parts of the organisation came together to meet the demand. An amazing DFDS team were able to schedule an extra crossing on Saturday night to help ease the congestion at the Port of Dover.

Marketing and the contact centres ensured that customers were kept informed of the latest situation. The freight and capacity teams reviewed and adjusted allocations to ensure that freight traffic could continue to get through and the additional passenger demand accommodated.

Operations prepared their communication channels for the peak weekend and bunkering was adjusted, adding extra round trips on both the Dunkerque and Calais routes. Additionally, the new SMS auto-reply service was launched, which offers passengers text updates about their booking and any delays. The text service was pushed out to followers via Twitter travel updates to keep all passengers up to date

What were the results?

Saturday was the first time ever that ticket revenue was over EUR 1 million for a single day of departures. Overall, revenue from turn-up-and-go traffic for the weekend was up 75% against the same period last year despite limited capacity remaining. It was up 21% in total year-on-year. Additionally, on the website, bookings on the Eastern Channel were up 32% compared to the same week last year.

The Dunkerque Seaways additional round trip, which we put in on Sunday night, sailed fully booked from Dover, with 272 cars, 49 freight vehicles and 918 passengers.
Furthermore, on Saturday Franck Poly and team celebrated Côte des Flandres taking a record revenue not only for the ship but also the top revenue of our fleet for a Saturday. The previous record was beaten by EUR 8,818!

“I am beyond proud of the business’ efforts over the past few days to exceed our customers’ expectations AND to produce these amazing results. I want to extend my special thanks to the fantastic cooperation and coordination between all departments in BU Channel and the teams from BUGP. The speed and efficiency in which everyone pulled together really does go to show how we move for all to grow, and why we’re voted Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator by our customers – thank you, everyone!” says Kasper Moos, VP and Head of BU Channel.

Dover introduces Customer Experience Associates during high season

Supporting our customers whilst waiting to board the vessel in the loading lanes is absolutely vital and from 16 July to 9 September, the operations team in Dover will introduce the seasonal position of Customer Experience Associate.

They will be responsible for collecting customer satisfaction data along with promoting upsell opportunities. The team will be able to take payment in the lanes via portable chip and pin devices. They will also support our customers with general information, live port and sailing updates via social media and terminal communication channels.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, says: “It is extremely important that our guests feel supported and cared for after check-in and prior to going onboard. We have a mixture of permanent and seasonal staff who will be deployed into this position over the busy holiday period. Training has already commenced, and the team was provided with a food-tasting session to give a full understanding of our food offering on board. Thanks to Dave Lewis, Category Manager, Food and Beverage, for providing a great session to provide education on the offering for the new team members. They now feel much more confident in upselling. The food was very tasty! The team has also been given an overview of the Calais and Dunkerque terminals to enable them to help customers with questions regarding their return travel, and additional training in other areas will follow too,” says Steve.

“We have been working together with Steph Fox, Social Media Manager from BUGP, to promote our new Customer Experience Associates via social media channels so our guests will be fully aware of the extra support while waiting at the port. If any of our colleagues are travelling with us during the high season, please give Karen, Paul, Steph and Callum a wave,” Steve adds.

Direct Ferries visit DFDS

On Thursday 28 June, several key members of the Direct Ferries commercial and operations teams, including their CEO, Commercial Director and Contact Centre Manager, were given a full tour of our operation at Dover Portland. They also took part in a sailing from Dover to Calais, returning via Dunkerque.

Direct Ferries is one of our largest online travel agents in BUGP, delivering almost 175,000 vehicle legs in 2017, so the visit was indeed an important event.

The guests were joined by several key stakeholders from DFDS from our operations and commercial teams who hosted them on the day. The purpose of the visit was so that they could experience the full customer journey that their customers experience, as well as agreeing on ways we can work together to improve this journey.

A workshop was held on board the ship where several of these areas were discussed in more detail, such as how to improve the quality of booking confirmations and how to provide more accurate information during busy or disrupted departures.

Colin Fawcus, UK National Sales Manager says: “It was great to meet up and discuss how we can improve the journey for our joint customers, as well as letting the Direct Ferries Team travel and experience the customer journey. The whole day really was in the spirit of honesty and transparency and putting our customers first.”

An extra special Easter welcome to our guests at the Port of Dover

On Thursday 29 and Friday 30 March, the Operations Team at the Port of Dover welcomed 18,518 guests for the Easter get-away. The team in BU Channel could not let the high season go unnoticed and deployed additional staff and the DFDS Easter bunny into the loading lanes to give an extra special warm Easter-fun welcome.

The journey of the Easter bunny started on Wednesday when Steph Fox, Social Media Manager BU Group Passenger, prepared our guests with tweets and posts via our social media channels to watch out for the Bunny when travelling through the port on Thursday.

On Thursday our DFDS Easter bunny reported for duty promptly in the loading lanes meeting guests. He was very popular and had several photos taken with our passengers. He gave away chocolate treats and waved to our guests in their vehicles while they were disembarking and embarking our vessels. This caused a great stir of excitement among our freight drivers who all began honking their horns and flashing their lights as they boarded our vessels. In turn the tourist drivers were all waving to the bunny and the team whilst tooting their horns to share their delight.

The bunny did not stop there. He boarded DELFT SEAWAYS in the port and tried to take command of the vessel from Captain Andy Armstrong. Sadly, Andy was having none of this as the safety of our guests is paramount and he sent the bunny packing from the bridge. Bunny then went to Business Leader Andris Vitols in the passenger accommodation. Andris put Bunny to work, meeting and greeting our passengers at the guest information desk, stocking shelves in the Sea Shop and pouring drinks in the Lighthouse Café.

“A special thank you to Jordan Wing, Assistant Manifest Supervisor, Dover, for becoming our Easter bunny and a big thank you to our fantastic team members, who walked for miles with big smiles in the loading lanes and greeted our guests. We have received some fantastic feedback from our passengers at the port and via our UK contact centre after their trip so it was definately worth the effort,” says Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager, BU Channel.

Steve adds: “By the way, this will not be the last time you will see the DFDS bunny as he will be visiting the Calais and Dunkerque ports very soon, so watch out!”


He is cute, that bunny!

BU Channel offers colouring packs for junior guests

Waiting in the vehicle lanes prior to embarkation is not usually the most enjoyable part of a holiday, especially not for our younger guests. The Operation’s team in BU Channel discussed this matter with Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager, and together they spent some time in the lanes asking families waiting to embark what would make this step of the journey more enjoyable for them.

“We did what we do best and listened to the voice of our DFDS guest. There were lots of suggestions of a colouring-in sheet and, from 14 March, our junior guests travelling through all three Channel ports will receive a ‘Meet the Friends of Pirate Island’ colouring-in sheet, a pack of colouring pencils and a small bag of sweets at the vehicle check-in,” says Steve.

The initiative has been well received by our younger guests, and on the very first day, nine-year-old Lewis commented: “Hi DFDS, this is 10/10, I love the idea of the colouring-in sheet, thank you!”

“A big thank you to Hawa Turner, Marketing Manager Onboard Services, Dover, for arranging the colouring-in sheet, and to Lauren Fox, Customer Support Supervisor, Dover, for preparing and delivering the children’s packs to all the Channel ports. We are very happy to be able to welcome all our families with this great entertainment pack just before the busy holiday period,” adds Steve.

A sample of the children's packs

A sample of the children’s packs

A work of art from our junior guest Lewis McQueen

A work of art from our junior guest Lewis McQueen

Improving Phoenix: Development team gathers knowledge at BU Channel

When the Phoenix development team visited the Channel, they looked into all relevant aspects of the business, including getting a perfect view of the port’s layout and traffic flows from the top of the White Cliffs of Dover.

Greg McDonald and Sam Kinnaird, analyst from DFDS Phoenix development team based in Grimsby, and Phoenix product owner Tazz Shaw visited Dover, Calais and Dunkirk to gather knowledge about operations and the way the system is used.

Over four days, they learned about all relevant aspects of the operations. They sailed with the ships across the Channel, learned about port layout and operations, spent time in the freight and passenger offices and saw how boarding cards are processed and voyages are tallied in check-in booths. They also spent time with the loadmaster, and watched a full unloading and loading of a Dunkirk ship, seeing how the logistical challenges of filling the vessel from different parts of the port were overcome.

Following a visit to the terminal control and Dover’s White Cliffs for a bird’s eye view of the port’s layout and vehicle flows, they saw how bookings staff in Whitfield use the system, and discussed how the system could be tweaked to make processes more efficient.

“A big thank you to Monica Copley, Gary Whitling, Jesper Christensen, Cheryl Hawes and Hayley Hollett in Dover, and Hélène Hivart and Sebastien Douvry in France, for helping us gather valuable information, which we can use to make Phoenix even more efficient,” says Sam Kinnaird.

The time-lapse video of Dover port operations shows the flows of traffic in the busy port. Thanks to Tazz Shaw, Phoenix product owner.