Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Time For A Party

(0:58) Fall is a busy transient time here on the US east coast. As we launch into our own cruising season, it has me thinking about how marinas can be more attractive to transients. I previous Minutes, I have discussed boaters' pets and touched on services that are desirable to a transient boater.

(0:49) There's another fairly simple way that you can attract transient boaters. Provide a way for boaters to readily socialize at your marina. Ask cruising boaters why they love the lifestyle, and meeting and getting to know other boaters will be high on the list. Many are drawn to locations where they may run into old friends and make new ones.

(0:42) Facilitating boater get togethers can be as simple or involved as your location and budget allows. Some marinas have arranged dinners with boaters purchasing meals. Others organize potluck meals or happy hours. Some simply provide a welcoming place where boaters can gather.

(0:34) Some examples of just a few such events that we have enjoyed over the years are:

(0:31) The Marina at Ortega Landing holds monthly themed parties in their beautifully appointed clubhouse with a small fee to attend. They also make the clubhouse available for gatherings such as a Super Bowl night with potluck hors d'oeuvres.

(0:24) River Dunes Marina opens their kitchen during the week to offer a Transients' Dinner with a fabulous buffet at a very reasonable price.

(0:19) Isle of Hope Marina has a terrific liveaboard community that holds a weekly potluck with transients welcome.

(0:15) Dowry Creek Marina is known up and down the east coast for its nightly boater get togethers. We've enjoyed an organized dinner, impromptu cocktail hours, and even a Chinese take-out night.

(0:09) Events like these create goodwill for your marina. They bring boaters back and create word-of-mouth marketing as boaters tell others about their enjoyable stay. And of course, a good way to let transients know about these events is with ActiveCaptain!

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Think Like a Transient

(1:10) Most marinas depend to some extent on transient business. For some it's their bread and butter, for others it's a way to utilize available slips to increase revenue. While nice docks, clean restrooms, and friendly staff will certainly help you attract these boaters, it's often something far more basic that will draw in a transient boater.

(1:02) Discover what you have to offer that will attract transient boaters and you can bring in more business to your marina. The best way to do that is to think like a transient.

(0:57) To the typical transient their boat is more than a pleasure craft, it's their home. They need the same services you do except they lack land transportation and are usually unfamiliar with the area. Make sure that transients know what is available to them should they come to your marina.

(0:50) Go beyond offering showers and laundry. Consider some of the amenities that will have an appeal to transients. Here is a list of things that can put a marina at the top of my list.

(0:45) 1. Transportation - It is unusual for services to be within walking, or even bicycling, distance. If you are fortunate to have public transportation available make sure to highlight this. Otherwise, consider a courtesy vehicle. This is quite possibly the single biggest feature that will appeal to transients.

(0:38) 2. Shopping - A stop with an easily reached, good quality grocery store is frequently needed. Farmer's Markets are becoming increasingly popular - make sure you're aware of any in the area. But there are many other items a boater will need from time to time, hardware, clothing, household goods, even gift items. What shopping options are available?

(0:29) 3. Services - Haircuts, pharmacies, medical services, exercise classes, yoga studios, churches, massages are just a few of the services that might appeal to a transient boater. If you can offer ready access to them you can draw in those boaters.

(0:23) 4. Mail - Although much can be accomplished online, transient boaters still need to periodically have mail delivered. Even more importantly they need a way to receive packages, mainly for those items they have trouble getting on land. Making this easy will make your marina more attractive to a transient boater.

(0:16) 5. Internet Access - While WiFi access has pretty much become expected by all boaters it is particularly important to a transient boater.

(0:11) 6. Entertainment - Good restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, sporting events, and any other form of entertainment that can readily be accessed from the marina is always a draw for transients.

(0:07) Make sure you are aware of all the amenities at or easily accessible from your marina that might appeal to a transient boater. Include details on your website and in ActiveCaptain giving transients more reason to choose your marina.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome Every Crew Member

(0:58) Nearly 50% of boaters today cruise with their pets. I couldn't imagine leaving the dock without our four-footed crew members. How does your marina rate on pet friendliness? Good accommodations for our canine crew members are often the make or break amenity when we are choosing a marina. And trust me, we are not alone.

(0:47) So what is needed to accommodate our furry crew members? Here's my list of important pet amenities.

1. Have a pleasant area where pets can be safely walked. It can be on the marina grounds or at a nearby park or trail. Don't offer a tiny scrap of grass on the edge of the parking lot. That sends the message we're not welcome.

2. Offer pick-up bags readily available where pets are walked. It tells me my pets are welcome and reinforces proper pet etiquette.

3. Include information about pet-friendly activities in the area in your welcome packets. Dog parks, trails for walking, fields and parks where a pet can run. Include pet events coming up in the area on your ZMOT sources - that's more than enough excuse to bring in new boaters.

4. Compile a list of veterinary clinics and emergency facilities for boaters who may arrive with a sick or injured pet. Offering this kindness when a boater is in need will not be forgotten.

5. Consider other pet-related services that might be available nearby such as grooming or specialty pet stores. We have selected a marina because we where able to get our hard-to-find brand of dog food nearby.

6. If you have moorings and offer a launch service allow leashed pets to use the launch to get to shore. They like to stretch their legs too.

(0:17) There are many other simple things you can do to make boaters' pets feel welcome. Have a treats jar in the office. Dockhands can carry a few to offer arriving pets, but make sure to ask the owner first. How about posting pictures of nautical pets on bulletin boards or even on your website? And last but certainly not least, always greet our pets and welcome them to the marina. They're an important part of the crew and will definitely have a say about whether we return.

(0:08) Make sure that you are not missing out on this growing group of boaters. To the typical pet owner their pet is considered a member of the family. By doing a few simple things to make them welcome you can bring in more business and keep them coming back.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

ZMOT - An Example

(1:14) I'm willing to bet that each and every one of you have engaged in ZMOT in the recent past, if not today. It has become so commonplace that we probably don't even recognize it as a process.

(1:09) If you have read a review on Amazon before making a purchase, checked UrbanSpoon to find a restaurant, looked at a YouTube video while researching a workout, or read a website before voting, you have engaged in ZMOT. Rest assured that boaters are engaging in similar activities before selecting your marina. A typical scenario might go something like this.

(1:02) A boater attends a dockside party and overhears another boater talking about their recent trip to Savannah, Georgia. It sounds interesting and he's been looking for some new places to visit so he quizzes the boater a bit more, maybe even hears a few comments from others who have been there. The boater thinks maybe this would be a good destination for an upcoming cruise. Now begins his ZMOT.

(0:54) Maybe the first thing he does is a general search on Savannah. He turns up the City of Savannah home page, a Visitors Bureau site, and information on Wikipedia.

(0:49) He remembers a boater saying there are big tidal shifts there. So next he goes to the Weather Underground site to their Sailing-Weather section to check the tide and current issues. Beside the tidal charts he finds the map with ActiveCaptain information. He checks out some anchorages and several marinas to see what other boaters have experienced. He also looks at any hazard markers to decide if he needs to play the tides.

(0:39) Finally he notices that one of the ActiveCaptain Partners is running a special. He notes the marina has the amenities he's looking for and good boater ratings so he decides to call to make a reservation.

(0:33) This is the power of being available at a boater's ZMOT. By being there at the very moment the boater is thinking about buying, and also when he's thinking about thinking about buying, you can present the information he needs to make his decision at the precise moment he needs it. And with ZMOT that could be any time of the day or night. Plus research shows that the ZMOT often occurs well in advance of a purchase.

(0:21) Google and Shopper Sciences did a study looking at what they termed "dwell time," the amount of time consumers spent considering their purchase. They wanted to understand how far beforehand consumers started their ZMOT. They looked at three diverse categories. For technology and automotive purchases the biggest spike was 4-6 months before the consumer purchase. For something as simple as groceries they found a big spike 4-6 days before purchasing.

(0:07) I could only guess what this might be for boaters but it does tell me that customers are researching you well in advance of coming to your marina. Make sure you are there when they do.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.