Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another Milestone

(0:57) When we started ActiveCaptain over 8 years ago, we had a vision of what it would become. We knew boaters craved the sort of real information that comes from combining crowd sourcing with boater reviews. We knew it was important for the information to be ubiquitous including offline access and inclusion across many applications and computer platforms. We knew that the ultimate expression would be when the ActiveCaptain data reached the built-in chartplotters that boaters use at their helms.

(0:45) We had a plan that stretched over several years and encompassed many steps. There were times when it was tempting to deviate from the plan for a short term win. But experience told us to believe in our plan and stay on track. We're glad we did.

(0:38) At the Miami Boat Show last week, Furuno announced that they are adding ActiveCaptain data to their NavNet TZTouch2 series of chartplotters. They are the first to make this announcement. To say we are thrilled is an understatement.

(0:32) You can see their official news release here:

(0:29) It's quite a win for us but it's a win for you as well. Now boaters will be able to access all of the wealth of ActiveCaptain data right at their helm as they plan their voyages and as they are underway. Integrating ActiveCaptain's vast database of marinas, boatyards, anchorages, hazards, and local knowledge with the sophisticated features of high-end chartplotters brings everything the boater needs into one place.

(0:19) And that puts ActiveCaptain Sponsors front and center as their markers stand out in the same way as on the ActiveCaptain website along with dozens of marine navigation apps that support ActiveCaptain data.

(0:13) It is now more important than ever to ensure that your information is current. Your prices and especially your fuel prices must be kept up-to-date. This will let every boater know what makes you special.

(0:07) When our reach extends so does yours. Make sure you're taking full advantage of this terrific new way to reach boaters.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Services for Boaters

(1:01) A few weeks back I wrote about the importance of providing the full experience to a boater. The more reasons you can give for coming into your marina and for staying longer, the more business you'll have. Boat and boating services are an important draw. If I know I can come and get some things done, that will give you a leg up over the competition.

(0:54) Many of you already have information in your Welcome Packets and on your website about what is available at your facility or nearby. These are important marketing tools. But we are now taking that to the next step.

(0:48) In last week's ActiveCaptain newsletter we introduced a new capability we will be rolling out this month - Services. In the same way that boaters love reading the reviews of other boaters when deciding where to stay, they also want to find out about the businesses that perform the various services they need.

(0:40) The new capability is starting with four categories: Boat Brokers, Surveyors, Transport - Land, and Transport - Water. We will be adding canvas repair next and continue to roll out new categories over the coming months until 40 different categories of services are available. You can see a list of the planned services by creating an account on eBoatCards and clicking on Services at the top right:

(0:31) So how can you use this new capability to promote your facility? Well, first if you offer any of these services yourself, ensure that you are listed in the categories as we release them. You will be able to claim your listing for the category and there will be additional promotional capabilities for Featured businesses.

(0:24) Then make sure the quality businesses in your area are also listed and claimed. Encourage them to Feature their business as well.

(0:20) As the categories go up, boaters will be writing reviews. If you are reading this Minute then I know you are aware of the power of positive reviews for a business. Having highly rated marine service businesses in your area will also enhance your place in boaters minds.

(0:13) I will be writing more about this new capability in future Minutes. For now start to think about what you can offer nearby. Make sure you have an eBoatCards account for your marina or boatyard. Develop some relationships and get your area rated highly.

(0:06) The combination of a highly rated marina with highly rated businesses nearby is very powerful. And that's good for you!

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Keep It Nautical

(0:57) It's becoming common for businesses to display a small Google Map on their website showing their location on a street map. I've seen a few marina websites that are starting to do this as well. It's a nice touch that can help give a visual of where you are. But does it really make sense for a boater to look at a street map?

(0:48) Shouldn't you be giving me what is more relevant to me, an actual nautical chart? Yes, I know some of you put up a chartlet showing your location but that's a static image - yawn. What if I want to gain a better perspective of where I am, maybe check out the nearby inlet or a bridge opening? Having something boaters can interact with will keep them engaged and on your website for longer.

(0:38) What if you could imbed ActiveCaptain on your website? I mean all of ActiveCaptain. A boater can see your marina displayed on a nautical chart, click on the marker to quickly view your amenities, pricing, and boater reviews. Now imagine this. What if they could write a review right there?

(0:30) We've been working with GeoData Engineering as they incorporate ActiveCaptain data into their Aqua Map iOS application. We've found them to not only be very good technically but also very forward thinking. Last week they released a website plugin that will allow you to imbed a real interactive chart with your ActiveCaptain marker in the center. And this is no simple chartlet. It will do all that I have described and more.

(0:20) Here's the best part. While any marina can imbed this capability for a fee, they have agreed to waive the setup fee ($100) and first year's usage fee ($99) for any ActiveCaptain Sponsor. This allows you to try out this new and interesting capability for free. You can try a demo here:

(0:11) Go on - zoom, pan, click on the marker for more info. Click on the ActiveCaptain logo in the upper right, login, and you can view all the markers.

(0:06) Add this capability to your website. Show boaters that you know what they want. They'll show you more business.

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

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Boater Events

(0:59) Are you taking advantage of events to promote your marina and to keep your transient and long-term slip holders interested and engaged? An event is a great way to draw in boaters and get them to stay longer. Plus, by showing them a good time, they will be more likely to return, tell others, and write a positive review. And the best part is that the definition of an event covers a broad range of activities, making it more likely you can take advantage of this valuable marketing tool.

(0:48) I've written previously about the importance of knowing what events, both large and small, are happening nearby. It could be the huge Spoleto Festival that happens each May in Charleston, the wonderful Dogfest we attended in Cocoa Village a couple of years ago, or the weekly farmer's market and art show in Sarasota. Any one of these and more is enough reason for boaters to come in or extend their stays.

(0:37) But don't overlook smaller events you can plan yourself. It could be a holiday event, the Super Bowl party, even a solstice celebration. They might be weekly or monthly potlucks, or docktails.

(0:31) We were surprised at the success of a recent fairly impromptu talk we gave here at Cocoa Village Marina. We had chatted with another boater about the Medical Emergencies Onboard talk we have given many times and he ask if we'd give it here. Of course we would.

(0:24) A few weeks passed and one Monday afternoon he stopped by the boat to say he had the clubhouse reserved for Thursday - were we in? I agreed to get him a description and bio. By Wednesday afternoon there was a sign on the marina office door. We figured 6 or 8 boaters might show up.

(0:15) On Thursday evening, the room was full of boaters and we had a wonderful time as did the boaters. Many have stopped by to thank us. Numerous transients expressed feeling lucky to have been there for the talk.

(0:08) It was a small thing that made the experience just a little more memorable for everyone. And being memorable, in a positive way, is good for business.

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