Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood

(1:04) I live on my boat. It is my home. So when I pull into a marina whether for a night, a week, or a month, that becomes my neighborhood. It is the place where I will shop, eat, take my canine crew for a walk, and maybe even use a doctor, dentist or hairdresser. Are you making sure that every transient feels welcomed to your neighborhood?

(0:57) I remember when I was growing up that there was a sort of ritual that took place whenever a new family moved into our neighborhood. If you were born after the 1960's it may seem quaint or old fashion but it was real. Women from the neighborhood would visit the new family. Over coffee they would get to know each other. And yes, there was often a cake or cookies involved.

(0:48) An important part of the meeting was an exchange of useful information about the area - we'd call that, "local knowledge" today. Which grocery store was best, who were the good babysitters, and information about upcoming events. It helped bring the newcomers into the neighborhood and made them feel wanted and welcomed.

(0:40) Now I'm not suggesting that you meet every transient boater with a cake and expect to sit down for a chat. Although a cake would certainly get you an invite onboard my boat.

(0:35) I was reminded of this ritual recently as we pulled into a marina and were politely and professionally greeted by the dockhands. We had been there before with a big draw being the nearby dog park. I thought how perfect it would have been if one of the dockhands seeing our two dogs straining over the bow would have said, "Welcome! Did you know there's a nice dog park right nearby?"

(0:26) That simple gesture would have made me feel truly welcome and special and told me that they really wanted me and my crew to enjoy our stay. It would have been a preamble to the Welcome Packet I would receive at check in.

(0:19) There are so many different ways you can add that personal touch. I've writte about farmer's markets. "How long are you staying? There's a great farmer's market - or local theater or craft fair - tomorrow."

(0:14) It could simply be, "If you're looking for a place to eat, we have some great suggestions in our welcome packet." Or, "Don't miss our downtown, it's lovely." Or even, "Let me know if you have any questions about the town."

(0:09) Make sure you are aware of what is happening nearby so that you can let boaters know. Treat me like a welcomed member of your neighborhood and I'll come back to visit again and again. I'll also let other boaters know what a welcoming place you have. And that will translate into more business.

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