Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's the Experience

(1:04) I've been thinking about what makes a marina stand out or be a place a boater wants to return to - one the boater will write a positive review about and recommend to fellow boaters. What kept coming to mind was "the experience," that somewhat intangible thing that makes me feel positively towards a place.

(0:57) The good news is that an experience can encompass many and varied things. That means that pretty much any place can increase the boater's experience by focusing on and playing up their assets. It often goes far beyond what you offer right at your facility and can often make up for less than perfect docks or some missing amenities. Here are some examples that I have experienced directly as a liveaboard boater.

(0:46) The dog park at Titusville Municipal Marina in Florida was an amazing gem. A large friendly dog park literally next door to the marina. A place where we could give the canine crew a break. We found this on our own but after pointing it out to the marina, they've been promoting it on ActiveCaptain and putting up signs directing pets and owners to the park. The response has been terrific. And we can't wait to go back again.

(0:35) The boater's lounge at Dowry Creek Marina in Belhaven, NC turns a simple marina with decent yet basic facilities into a must stop location. Every night boaters gather for docktails, or a potluck, or a party. Mary, the owner, lets you know when you check in what is happening and invites you to join in. It feels like home.

(0:27) We've discovered most of our favorite restaurants when an employee has recommended a lesser known place loved by the locals. Basil Thai Restaurant in Charleston is one of our all time favorites which we visit again and again. Just last week we needed a place for a business lunch in Panama City, FL and were pointed to Bayou Joe's. We're already planning our return trip.

(0:16) The Commodore Theatre in Portsmouth, VA takes the rare movie theater a boater can walk to and ups the stakes by adding a beautifully renovated art deco interior and comfortable seating around tables with food service. We'll pretty much stop in there and watch anything that's showing.

(0:09) There are many, many more examples I could give but the secret is to find your special attraction and work it for all it's worth. Make sure you can point boaters towards your special gems and they'll help you turn those gems into more revenue.

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