Emre Sayın is using the skills of an American quarterback to operate ports around the world.“We think globally, but act locally.”
Emre Sayın is using the skills of an American quarterback to operate ports around the world.
When asked what it takes to lead the world’s largest cruise port operator, Emre Sayın likens it to being a professional quarterback, directing scattered players towards the same goal. Emre was appointed CEO of Global Ports Holding (GPH) in May last year, setting himself a firm goal to alter the perception of the company, from being seen as a business with an extensive portfolio of ports, to a company run by a global team.
Established in 2004 and headquartered in Turkey, GPH operated one multipurpose and two cruise ports until 2013, when it’s international expansion began, starting with Montenegro’s Port of Adria. Within two years, acquisitions jumped from three to 10 ports in seven countries, the majority established in the Mediterranean where it enjoys a 25 per cent market share.
Today, there are 14 ports in eight different countries, including the Atlantic and Asia-Pacific regions, each operating independently and servicing 7.5 million cruise passengers annually. “While they operate their own business, they are also part of a global team with a single mission, single direction, just like an American football team on the playing field,” Emre reflects. “The local team also works closely with the local stakeholders such as the port authority, the tourism boards, ministry, the city, the mayorship. Then there are all the other players that are too numerous to count,” he says.
"All of these forces have to come together, with the role of the port operator vital because the operator is the one that talks to cruise lines daily and is up to date with everything from their needs to their complaints.” Emre’s experience in senior marketing and service development roles in companies including Microsoft, VimpelCom and Verizon inspired him to extend the services of GPH to offer a broader and more efficient service, keeping in mind ports must be attractive enough to be included on cruise itineraries. Multiple factors have to be considered when providing services to passengers visiting the destinations, including mobile wi-fi, maps, bike rentals, taxis and restaurant bookings.
“We have to market the whole destination, the whole city,” he explains.
“We sought feedback from passengers, because obviously to build the right services and products we needed to understand what it is they require in order to leave a country happy.”
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