Presenting Porthop: Croatian App for Booking Berths Online

Total Croatia News


Andrija Čolak presented Porthop last year at the OMGcommerce conference hosted by Netokracija, and as of today, August 25, this ‘Airbnb for boats’ is available as iOS application.

From sharing a transport to food and cleaning services, from pet sitting to finding a job, it’s clear that the sharing economy has entered into almost every sphere of our everyday life. One such example is the Croatian Porthop service, which can be best described as Airbnb for boats, and which tackles the problem of finding berths in marinas, harbours and anchorages. The brains of the operation behind Porthop is Andrija Čolak, known by many for the Surf’n’Fries franchise and the clever umbrella Kisha.

Porthop is recently available as an app for iOS devices, which was the reason why Netokracija chose to interview Čolak to learn more about the service, the competition, and the future plans.


“Porthop is a local [mobile] application for reservation of berths at sea, and is primarily intended for boaters,” says Andrija Čolak, co-founder of this service, which was first mentioned at last year’s OMGcommerce conference hosted by Netokracija. He adds that the idea came from his friend and business partner, Ivan Pucić, who has been working as a skipper for many years.

“The thing is simple – with the boom of the nautical tourism in Croatia, the berth reservation service and the number of berths hasn’t increased accordingly. In other words, today, if you are on a sailboat and want to be sure that you have a safe berth for tonight (e.g. a buoy or a mooring space in marina) you have to set sail relatively early in order to secure a berth since about four or five in the afternoon all berths get filled. This way, you lose half a day of your vacation completely unnecessarily.”

Thanks to Porthop, sailors can book a berth for the boat (and themselves!) with just a few clicks. During a crowded summer season, sailors no longer have to worry about finding a berth at any of the marinas, harbours or anchorages, nor whether they have any cash on themselves.

“For those not familiar with the berth booking system, just imagine that there is no reservation system for hotels and that they still work on the ‘first come, first served’ basis. Why is that so? The reason why berths aren’t do booked via phone is that there were too many cases when someone had called to book a berth, the berth provider would reject all other boaters, and then the boater that called never showed up, and most importantly – never paid for the berth.”


Pay and book a berth – in three clicks

Porthop app from Porthop on Vimeo.

That fact that 95% of the charter boats are booked online, and that most of the today’s charter boats are equipped with tablets instead of instruments, makes booking a berth online seem like an obvious and logical move. This is how the Porthop came to be – via Porthop app, the berth, i.e. the berth reservation is immediately paid for,” says Andrija, and adds, that this system enables better organisation of transfer berths, as well as higher level of service offered by the berth providers to their users.

“Today, users of Porthop can book and pay for a berth in just three clicks, and spend the whole day enjoying themselves at sea without stressing whether there will be available berths in the evening. Or as our slogan says: Book now, come whenever!”

The Porthop app helps not only boaters but berth providers as well, who don’t need to worry about whether the customer will show up or not. Since the berth has been paid for in advance, it should remain empty until the end of the check-in time, and if the client does not arrive, the berth provider can accept someone else and thus double its income. Also, booking online avoids situations when sailors and skippers arrange and reserve berths without the berth provider even knowing.


Testing the application and contract with ACI


Andrija and his team have recently introduced a free iOS Porthop application, whose development team, consisting of Pavel Denisjuk, Borna Beaković and Antun Grudić Banjavčić, has been working for almost two years. When asked about the user reactions, Andrija says:

“We are currently working with a group of skippers which includes dozens of professionals and several individual boaters who are testing the application at sea. A lot of the boaters I personally know, because I have been sailing since childhood, are literally thrilled with the concept because Porthop solves a common problem, which has been troubling them for a long time. Of course, here and there we run into some problems and bugs, but we’ve been dealing with them promptly and effectively.

According to Netokracija’s sources, the Android version of the app will be available this winter, which means it will be ready to use next summer season. But this is not the only news for Porthop since they have signed a contract with ACI, Croatian chain of government-owned marinas, which has over 20 marinas across the Adriatic.

“It really means a lot to all users, but what’s more it gives weight to the project. Also, hats off to the ACI management who have recognized such initiative to improve and facilitate the provision of service to sailors, by which we are also raising the quality of Croatian tourism.”


What distinguishes Porthop from Marinebook?

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Marinebook is a similar service on the Croatian market, about which Andrija says it has a well-established system and provides a similar service as Porthop.

“However, Porthop has a differently developed system of the part that is intended to the end users, especially to professional skippers, which includes a developed system of loyalty, recommendations and the like. We want to be part of the nautical community and to make it clear to everyone what are the benefits of the application.”


Introducing additional features and differentiating from competition

The next steps in the development of Porthop include the introduction of new features aimed to make Porthop stand out from the current competition, and which should further facilitate the route planning and search of a suitable berth.

“The obvious benefit for the sailors is that they can fully enjoy themselves, while we take care of the logistics and safety. We also plan on integrating with some of the existing nautical applications. Our long-term plans include adding some dynamic elements to Porthop which would make it easier for sailors to choose a good place to lunch or dine.”

When asked whether Porthop could cause the opposition of some of the citizens in Croatia, as it was the case with Uber, Andrija concludes:

“I really hope not, I can’t see us ‘treading on anyone’s toes’, or taking over the market or anything like that. I really believe that Porthop is in everyone’s interest and can make work easier for everyone as well as make yacht vacation more carefree and enjoyable.”


Translated from Netokracija


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