Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Courting the Experts

(1:02) When I describe ActiveCaptain to someone not involved with boating I often hear, "So, it's like TripAdvisor for boating." I have always seen many parallels between ActiveCaptain and TripAdvisor.

(0:58) In their About Us page they state, "TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travelers." That's exactly what we do for boaters. TripAdvisor was one of the first major sites to throw the concept of "experts" on it's ear. After all, who is the real expert, the person sitting around thinking and writing about it or those out there actually doing it? I know who I look to for advice.

(0:50) For the marina this can lead to a bit of a problem. You are no longer dealing with a handful of self-proclaimed experts that you can easily identify and reach. Now you must reach the hundreds of boaters that pass through. How do you court those positive expert opinions?

(0:43) The simplistic answer is to treat all boaters well and I assume you already do that. The real issue then is how to turn your daily efforts into increased positive reviews resulting in more boaters coming in. I ran across some interesting advice on TripAdvisor. They suggest utilizing Management Response to increase engagement with your customers.

(0:36) Here's what they found: "Compared to properties that don't respond to reviews, those that respond to at least 13% of reviews see a 21% boost in engagement. And accommodations that respond to at least 50% of reviews increase their likelihood of receiving a booking inquiry by 24%." Plus, "Properties that don't respond to reviews have a 3.81 average review rating, with average rating jumping to 4.05 for accommodations that respond at least 40% of the time and 4.15 for properties with a 65%+ response rate."

(0:22) But remember there is still a balance. I believe responding to every review will quickly become tedious to the reader. After all, they want to hear what the real experts, their fellow boaters, have to say.

(0:17) TripAdvisor gives some great advice in this area that relates to you: "It's generally a good idea to respond to reviews that are negative, as well as those where you can correct a factual misstatement or write about an action you've taken to correct problems addressed in the review."

(0:09) With 60 million members, more than 260 million monthly visitors, and over 200 million reviews, TripAdvisor has learned a thing or two. ActiveCaptain doesn't come near that volume... yet. But applying some of their wisdom can certainly help you bring in more business.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

All In The Family

(1:03) Lately, we've been writing about the concept of crowd-sourcing in our ActiveCaptain boater newsletter. We've discussed how it works, why it works, and interesting new technologies that are emerging. The feedback and discussions generated have been terrific. It got me thinking more broadly about who really is "the crowd."

(0:55) It's easy to oversimplify this complex and diverse group as just, "a bunch of boaters." But having lived aboard now for twelve years, I know it's much more. Just as in nature, it is the diversity that creates the magic.

(0:49) I've found that there is not only diversity among the actual boaters - wide experience levels, transients, locals, different boat types, and on and on. The diversity also spreads out into others who live, work, and dream in this wonderful boating family.

(0:43) Contributors include towboat operators, NOAA and Coast Guard personnel, yacht clubs, other boating clubs, and more. It also includes you, the marinas and boat yards that service the boaters. You are a key piece of what makes this family work.

(0:37) When you update your fuel price, or fill in your amenities, or correct your approach information, you are adding to the crowd-sourced data. Your additions and corrections do more than simply make sure your marina is presented well. You are helping to bring more users into the fold who will offer more crowd-sourced data that will help more boaters cruise with confidence. It's a continuous cycle resulting in more boaters who get into boating, and more importantly, more boaters making more use of their boats.

(0:27) Every day we are told how the resource we set in motion with ActiveCaptain has fundamentally changed boating, making it safer and more enjoyable. This has caused more boaters to throw off once-fixed lines. One boater recently wrote that it makes other resources seem "laughable".

(0:20) The message for you is this - don't view your contributions as merely limited to the small world of your marina. You are a part of something much bigger. You are as much a member of this boating family as any boater out there. You have great value to add that can help boaters spend more happy days on the water.

(0:13) In return, they help you by highlighting your strengths and telling you how to be better. They enter your ports with less stress and enjoy more of their time with you.

(0:08) So continue to contribute your knowledge, and look for new ways to assist boaters by updating hazard and local knowledge markers as well. We are all in one big family, sharing the experience.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Whole Package

(1:14) With the holiday season just behind us we've all probably opened our share of packages. A truly thoughtful gift will include the whole package - a lovely presentation, a thoughtfully selected item, and everything you need to use and enjoy it right away. It makes you feel special.

(1:07) If you've ever seen the disappointment on a child's face when a lack of batteries prevents them from playing with a new toy, you understand what I mean.

(1:03) To provide boaters with a true 5 star experience you need to ensure that they are getting the whole package. By this I don't mean that you must provide every possible amenity. But you must give them what they are expecting at your location.

(0:57) First, determine what type of stop you are - a convenient overnight stop, a place to relax and enjoy, a provisioning and get things done stop, etc. Then consider what a boater will need and expect when coming in and determine what you can offer yourself and what you can offer from the surrounding area.

(0:51) Too often I find that marinas do a very poor job of letting boaters know what services are available to them outside of the marina. These are valuable assets that can play a crucial part in determining where a boater stops.

(0:45) It is not good enough to have business cards on a table or in a rack. You need to cultivate an understanding of who are the quality businesses that can serve boaters. Include this information in your Welcome Packet and on your website. Make sure the Services section of your ActiveCaptain marker is filled in with business names and contact information.

(0:38) I understand that being in a position to recommend a business can be delicate. Understandably, I hear marina staff express concern about how a bad experience with an outside business they suggested can have a negative impact on the boater's impression of the marina itself. However, not being able to offer assistance can make you appear unknowing or uncaring.

(0:30) Don't worry, we've got your back. This year we will be releasing new capabilities that will allow boaters to rate the services they use in the same way they currently rate you. So now it will be fellow boaters who are rating an engine mechanic, a diver, or a canvas shop from their experiences.

(0:23) You'll be able to link to these boater reviews for nearby services on your website site so you no longer need to recommend a business in the dark. You can choose to include only the highest rated, the ones you're familiar with, or all the service providers within a certain geography.

(0:15) Ultimately, it is about information. Better and more unbiased information helps boaters make better decisions.

(0:11) So start thinking about what services you can suggest both onsite and nearby. Decide which ones should be highlighted and we'll give you the information you need to present it to boaters.

(0:06) Give me a better experience by offering the whole package and I'll give you more business.

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fear of Failure

(1:29) I've written about the importance of embracing failure to succeed. Fear of failure keeps you from reaching outside your comfort zone to the place where success lives.

(1:24) I gathered some of my favorite quotes on the subject. They have inspired me over the years and I hope they will inspire you.

(1:18) "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game's winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that's why I succeed." - Michael Jordan, NBA Hall of Fame.

(1:09) "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein.

(1:05) "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." - Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.

(0:59) "Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical." - Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks.

(0:55) "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Wayne Gretzky, NHL Hall of Fame.

(0:51) "Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again." - Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

(0:47) "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." - Babe Ruth, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

(0:43) "Fail often so you can succeed sooner." - Tom Kelley, Ideo partner.

(0:40) "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try." - Beverly Sills, opera singer.

(0:36) "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison, inventor.

(0:00) "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

(0:30) "It doesn't matter how many times you fail. It doesn't matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because all that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are." - Mark Cuban, Chairman of AXS TV, Owner of Landmark Theaters.

(0:19) "Success is how high you bounce after you hit bottom." - General George Patton.

(0:15) And of course every boater's favorite:

(0:13) "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." - Mark Twain.

(0:05) Reach further, dream bigger, and find success!

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