Founded by Headland Media, which has since been acquired by KVH and renamed as the KVH Media Group, the social media site allows seafarers to post comments and photographs from their vessels, chat with colleagues on other ships, take part in seafarer-related polls and votes, and keep up with maritime news.
“The shipping industry has never seen anything on this scale before. It’s particularly satisfying to us that the members range from captains to able seamen, with nationalities that span the globe,” said Mark Woodhead, managing director of KVH Media Group, which has offices in Liverpool and Leeds.
KVH Media Group also produces the maritime industry’s NEWSlink digital newspapers, which played a key role in the birth of Crewtoo. NEWSlink is a daily news and information service customised for seafarers, with more than 75 publications in 17 languages delivered by e-mail to vessels around the world.
Starting in late 2011, Crewtoo poll questions were printed in NEWSlink onboard newspapers to gauge mariners’ interests and opinions on various topics. The poll results and a selection of comments were printed in subsequent issues of NEWSlink, and seafarers were offered the option of signing up individually to receive the Crewtoo poll questions and answers by e-mail.
Because of the limits of many vessels’ satellite communications systems, those e-mails had to be less than 3,000 characters of plain text, so NEWSlink moved to printing a weekly Crewtoo newspaper to contain more members’ comments, opinions, and jokes. With the desire to find an outlet for even more comments to be shared, the Crewtoo online network was born.
KVH reports that, to date, there have been more than 545,000 unique visitors to Crewtoo.com. Of the more than 100,000 Crewtoo members, there are 2,365 members who still receive the plain text e-mails and interact with Crewtoo in that manner. Crewtoo also has an active presence on Facebook, with 85,000 followers there.
Crewtoo is also currently developing an online maritime job board, which is expected to launch next month. “First Crewtoo grew its audience, and now we plan to expand services based on what seafarers say they want,” says Mr Woodhead.