Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Grow Your Reviews

(0:56) I've writte about how you can minimize the impact of a negative review by having many positive reviews surrounding it. It is important to note that your business doesn't live or die from a single review, good or bad. Consumers today are savvy about online reviews and know how to interpret the outliers. But to do that we need a lot of input from our peers. Which restaurant would you choose, the 5 star with 3 reviews or the 4 star with 100?

(0:44) Increasing the number of boater reviews for your marina is critical for success. A large number of reviews offers recognition as a destination, gives your ratings credibility, affords a chance for your happy customers to be your sales people, and can minimize the impact of an errant negative review.

(0:37) Never turn down an opportunity for a positive review. How? Ask! Encourage every happy boater to leave a review. Many marinas are hesitant or embarrassed to do this - you shouldn't be.

(0:32) Do not discount the simple idea of just asking for a review. Few businesses ask their happy customers to speak out. When a customer comes in with compliments, mention how important happy customers like them are to your business.

(0:22) Another easy and often effective approach is to post positive comments in a location where your customers will see them along with a reference to the review site. This simple action is not only a good way to promote your positive points, it can inspire a happy customer to do the same. Post positive reviews on your website with a link back to the review site making it easy for other customers to leave their own reviews.

(0:12) The restaurant and hotel industries has been doing this for a long time. They understand the growing importance of customer reviews for their business's success.

(0:06) You've worked hard to build a good business. Make sure you are getting all of the recognition you deserve.

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Before the Negative Review

(0:50) No matter how good you may be, eventually every marina will experience a negative review. Occasional mistakes are made by every business. It's also true that some customers just can't be satisfied. The issue isn't receiving the negative review, it's having a solid strategy for handling them. That old sports cliche is true here, "Your best defense is a good offense."

(0:39) The first and most effective steps you can take to deflect a bad review are the ones made prior to its occurrence. Here are three steps you can take now to reduce the impact of negative reviews coming in the future.

(0:33) First, make sure customer expectations are realistic. The most common reason for a negative review is not that the marina lacked a pool or a 5 star restaurant. Negative reviews happen when the customer's expectations do not match the services or quality found. Honestly present your strengths. Do not promote what you can't deliver. Price realistically. And ensure that what you do offer is clean, well-maintained, and matches the descriptions.

(0:23) Second, make sure satisfied customers speak out. There is no better way to reduce the impact of a negative review than to have it lost in a sea of positive ones. It is important to encourage positive reviews from happy customers. People like to offer their opinions and are happy to support the businesses they like. Sponsors should include the custom Review Card in their welcome packets. Surrounding a lone negative review with honest positive ones makes the negative review disappear.

(0:12) Third, treat every customer well. You are in the service industry. You must provide good service if you want happy, returning customers. Be helpful and courteous. Go the extra step to make every boater feel like they are welcome. Arriving into a slip is one of the most terrifying parts of most boater's experience on the water. Make it feel safe and welcoming. It's hard to write something negative about a friend.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Little Things

(1:06) My Minutes typically draw on my own experiences as a liveaboard cruiser and marketer. But I also like to listen to what other boaters, marinas, and people involved in the marine industry have to say and incorporate that wisdom, experience, or knowledge. A fairly new boater email me a suggestion to pass along to marinas through the Minute. What she wrote about was just a "little thing" but it struck a cord with me and I know other boaters feel the same way.

(0:58) As I've addressed in other Minutes, coming into an unfamiliar marina can be one of the most stressful moments of a cruiser's day. There are so many things to consider - current, wind, and the directions to the slip. While there's little you can do for the first 2 items, it is fairly easy to remove the stress from the last one.

(0:51) A typical marina will lay out their docks along lettered rows with numbered slips. When we make our VHF call as we approach the marina we'll often be told something like, "You'll be on C dock in slip 16." Then we may receive some additional instructions, port/starboard side, X slips down, or some other direction for finding our slip, such as, boat names we'll be near or landmarks on shore.

(0:43) Too often the directions are confusing in ways you may not even realize. Remember, we are new to your marina and everything we see is unfamiliar and must be processed while doing numerous other tasks. Add to that, missing or blocked signage and you quickly create a confusing and stressful situation. I think fellow boater Annette on Magnolia said it best in her email:

(0:35) "It would be most helpful if marinas would include a map of their slips with how the slips are labeled and numbered. This could be on their website. Sometimes they have the letter of the pier but not whether the slips are numbered odd/even or high to low. This would be a huge help for newbies or those new to a marina to reduce docking stress by at least knowing which direction to head. St Augustine Public Mooring field had a good map. Also really good signage helps."

(0:25) If you already have such a map, make sure it is easy for boaters to find on your website. Consider putting a link to the page under the Dockage/Docks section of your ActiveCaptain marker. If you do not have one, now would be the time to develop one.

(0:18) It is also the time to visit the docks and make sure that they are well labeled. And I don't mean from the land side. We have visited many marinas that have wonderful signage at the head of the docks and on power pedestals. That works well if I'm approaching by land but I'm unable to see that signage from my boat. Make sure that there is equally good signage visible from the water.

(0:09) Remember this is my first interaction with your marina. Make it a positive one and you are well on your way to providing me with an excellent experience. Make it a negative one and you are forced to play catch up. Make sure you're starting off on the right foot.

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

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

ActiveCaptain Messaging

(1:00) Several Minutes have covered the importance of communicating with your customers. We are often asked if it's possible to get in touch with a boater who has stayed at a marina and written a review. While our privacy policy prevents us from revealing a captain's email address to anyone, there is an easy-to-use solution that  will get your message through.

(0:50) The ActiveCaptain website provides a capability to send a personal message to an ActiveCaptain user from any review. Personal messages are powerful tools for communicating with boaters in positive ways. Use this capability any time your marina receives a review to thank the boater when the review is positive and to work to make things right when it is not.

(0:42) To send a personal message to an ActiveCaptain user, just follow these simple steps:

1. Click on the Captain name that appears at the top of the review. A pop-up menu will appear.
2. Select "Send message."
3. Enter a message title and the message text in the window.
4. Select "Submit."

(0:33) The next time the Captain logs into the ActiveCaptain website there will be a 
notification that a message is waiting. Captains may optionally have messages sent directly to their email inbox. It is a good idea to offer a way for the Captain to communicate with you directly by including your email address or a phone number in the message.

(0:25) The Captain can also reply to your message within the ActiveCaptain website. It is good practice to regularly check your ActiveCaptain account for messages or to have the messages sent to your email inbox.

(0:20) To configure extra email capabilities for the messages that are sent to you, follow these steps:
1. Select "My Card" from the tabs on the left side under The Interactive Cruising Guidebook.
2. Click on "More" beside "My Details" at the top. A pop-up menu will appear.

3. Select "Edit".
4. In the "My Details" window check the box next to "Send email when a message is received."
5. Select "Submit."

(0:10) Remember to keep your communications professional and relevant. ActiveCaptain messaging may not be used to SPAM users. Arguing or harassing a captain is always bad. Use messaging sparingly and appropriately and it can be a powerful marketing tool.

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