After we heard about MSPS’s new promotion offering double transit days for the same price, Maritime Security Review caught up with Operations Director Ben Shephard to learn the rationale behind this unconventional move.
Maritime Security Protection Services Ltd (MSPS) was formed in January 2011 and commenced trading in April of that year. Both Directors have been involved in Maritime Security for four years and have provided security to shipping companies since the very beginning of Somalian piracy.
MSPS is a privately owned company dedicated to providing an independent brokerage service that works with various partners to supply armed teams to the shipping community. MSPS utilize carefully selected service providers; of which the Yemen security company Lotus Maritime is their preferred service provider and have a mutual, highly successful relationship that successfully spans four years of providing security together.
MSPS offer services at the same low price as their providers but with the added benefits of their own additional port licenses and routes; up to date intelligence, free fortnightly reports and the MSPS 24/7 client management that is highly regarded amongst their loyal clients. MSPS have successfully provided security and intelligence services to hundreds of vessels and have a growing client list that they are proud to say has generally derived from referrals from very satisfied clients.
It is quite unusual to see a promotion like this in the private security industry, what prompted the move?
MSPS aims to keep ahead of the market and offer our clients something unique and the decision came as a result of feedback from our regular clients. We have always looked for ways of trying to simplify the security booking process and by offering Double Days it reduces the likelihood of additional charges post transit.
Having provided vessel protection for the past four years, we have come to understand the stress involved for the shipping company CSOs; particularly when they have agreed a price for security through the charterers, owners and their directors, to then have to revisit the additional costs post transit. With the Double Days they then have one less thing to worry about and should a vessel run into any delays or require additional port calls then there is no requirement to revisit the contract or renegotiate the price.
Who do you think this promotion will appeal to? Will it be predominantly the risk averse, or those that want to slow down to save on bunkering costs?
The promotion attracts those shipping companies that have vessels on spot charter, that generally have additional last minute port calls around the High Risk Area or Persian Gulf; or those that have preplanned port calls but suspect vessels may be delayed in port. For those shipping companies; Double Days provides greater flexibility and peace of mind.
Do transits often run over time?
Very much so; vessels are often delayed at ports in East Africa, Yemen, India & Pakistan. We have several clients whose vessels may collect a team; not knowing the port calls the vessel will make, upon exiting the High Risk Area and disembarking the team.
How important do you think price competition is in this market as opposed to competing on quality?
In these difficult times for the shipping community being competitive on price is very important; but despite promotions such as this and reductions in prices we offer quality services in keeping with our GUARDCON contracts. The Maritime Security industry is improving on its regulations, industry standards and quality of product daily but in such a competitive market; services must be at an affordable price.
Do you expect this promotion to attract new customers or will it mainly provide a better offering for existing clients?To what degree do you agree that there is inertia in the market and shipping companies tend to stick with the security companies with whom they have formed a relationship?
MSPS’s principal aim is to look after our loyal clients and fulfil their requirements in providing a straightforward service, and ultimately a satisfied client will generate new clients. I would agree that there is inertia in the market as there is a lot of mistrust in the industry drummed up by the Navy organisations and some of the bigger named security companies and unfortunately as a result shipping companies are hesitant to deviate.
Should we interpret this price promotion as the start of a period of maturation for the private maritime security market, and in your opinion can we expect to start seeing the number of businesses offering this service whittled down?
The industry has always been fast moving; looking back four years when I began in the industry there were only a handful of security companies looking after less than 10% of the vessels that would consider security now. As the shift in attitude has changed toward onboard security and the percentage of those vessels now taking security has grown, there was always going to be a sudden boom in maritime security companies.
With every boom there is a bust and I do believe that we are now entering that period where some security companies will begin falling by the way side. One can compare the cycle of maritime security with the security proliferation in Iraq after the end of the 2nd Gulf war. For MSPS, we are here for the long haul and promotions such as these are a natural progression to keep ahead of the game.
Some may argue that a pricing plan like this could mean that those that don’t have delays are paying for those that fail to plan properly, how would you answer these critics?
MSPS certainly haven’t put up our prices on our standard transits to help this new promotion. We disagree that shipping companies do not plan ahead, this offer will benefit those companies that are making port calls around the High Risk Area. It will also benefit those who have vessels delayed in port by unforeseeable factors beyond their control and those that work on spot charters and don’t have the luxury of foresight.
From what MSPS ascertains; more and more shipping companies are falling into these brackets and we want to be the security company that looks after this growing sector.