Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I'm a Traveler, Not a Tourist

(0:58) In past Minutes I have discussed the importance of acquainting boaters with the amenities and attractions that are available around the marina. It is important that a boater understand what is available to make their stay enjoyable. Showers, laundry, groceries, and more are all basic necessities that boaters seek out. But it is also possible to take it to the next level. Use your local knowledge to give boaters a genuine experience.

(0:43) Experienced travelers generally do not like to think of themselves as tourists. It brings up images of ticky-tacky shops, cheap t-shirts, and disappointing food. They would rather get to know a destination as opposed to simply hitting all of the overhyped attractions.

(0:35) This is where you can offer your unique experience as a local. Offer advice on what is popular with residents and help boaters experience those opportunities. Most boaters will enjoy exploring the hidden spots you tell them about, participating in local activities, and eating traditional and authentic cuisine.

(0:25) These experiences are important marketing tools and can be used to attract boaters to your marina. Include information on your website and in ActiveCaptain so that the boater can factor it into their decision of where to stay. Also include it in the Welcome Packet you provide so it is easy for them to find the destination. Include phone numbers, directions, website links, as well as timely information, e.g., special events.

(0:12) It could be as simple as Palm Coast Marina recommending a fabulous local pizzeria over Pizza Hut when we wanted delivery pizza. Or the unforgettable experience of a sunset kayak tour offered by Marineland Marina.

(0:05) Your recommendations can make the difference between a fine stay and a memorable one.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

VHF Marketing

(1:01) There is an important marketing tool in every marina office that is too often over looked - the VHF radio. I am not implying that you should begin blasting ads out over the VHF. Not only is that illegal, it would likely irritate most boaters. But every time your marina uses the VHF radio you are communicating to hundreds, if not thousands, of boaters.

(0:49) Utilizing the VHF in a lawful, helpful, and professional manner can enhance your reputation, get your marina in front of boaters, and help bring you more business.

(0:44) If you accept transient boaters you must have someone that will promptly, courteously, and professionally answer the radio. Every boater who hails your marina must receive an immediate response. This is often the first interaction the boater has with your marina. Don't leave boaters with the feeling you don't want them because you're not responding to their call.

(0:33) It's not uncommon to hear a boater repeatedly hail a marina with no reply, only to hail a competitor's marina. If you are unable to have someone stationed in the office at all times, then invest in some handheld VHF radios (with belt straps).

(0:26) Every time your marina's name is broadcast on the VHF, most boaters within a 5 to 20 mile range hear the call. Make sure everyone who uses the radio knows the protocols and projects a professional and friendly image. Don't leave this to chance. It should be part of new hire training as well as a part of ongoing staff training.

(0:16) Make it fun. At your next staff meeting, role play various call situations that might occur on the VHF. Discuss the best options for handling them. Make sure everyone knows how to use the radio properly. I addressed one way this can go horribly wrong in a Minute last summer:
Make or Break

(0:07) Every interaction with a boater has an impact on their impression of your marina. Make sure that everyone is projecting the image you want, even on the VHF radio.

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Boater's Input

(1:05) My Marina Minute focuses on things that I think may be helpful to marinas to improve their business. While most recipients are marina owners, managers, and staff, there are also some boaters who have been long time users of ActiveCaptain who follow the Marina Minute. They sometimes email me with comments and suggestions about the Minutes. I love this sort of interaction and always consider their input for future Minutes.

(0:52) A bit back I received an email from a seasoned, full-time liveaboard cruiser. She and her husband have put many miles under their keel from Maine to the Bahamas. They are also friends who's opinions I value.

(0:46) Her email addressed what would be her perfect marina experience. Here is what she wrote. If I were you, I would pay attention:

(0:42) I very much enjoy reading your Marina Minutes. It got me thinking: If I were to write one, what would I say?

(0: 39) My perfect marina experience starts with excellent communication before I arrive. Have a map of your docks with dimensions on your website. When I make a reservation, tell me:

  • Are your docks fixed or floating?
  • How long are the fingers? This helps me decide if I want to back in (so I can get off my boat), and if I need to be prepared to lasso a piling.
  • Is current an issue coming in, and/or, at the docks? This will help me decide on timing of my arrival and give a better docking experience.
  • What are the depths coming in and at the docks?
(0:23) If I know what to expect well before I arrive, I won't be disappointed.

(0:21) When I arrive, I want the dock hands to do exactly what I tell them to do with my lines, and do it as soon as I tell them to do it. If I am clear in my directions, that means I know what I am doing and I know how MY boat handles. Listen!

(0:14) Amenities that weigh heavily in my decision on which marina to visit:

  • Courtesy car
  • Excellent internet connection
  • Recycling bins that are well maintained
  • Clean bathrooms and showers

(0:09) And that's my Marina Minute.
  Owner of a Kadey Krogen 48.

(0:06) Offer boaters what they want and they will not only come back again and again, they will tell other boaters. And that is good for business.

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Is Your Price Right?

(0:58) Every interaction a boater has with your marina acts to define who you are in the boater's eyes. Reading that I'm sure you think of your staff, the grounds, the amenities you offer, etc.

(0:54) I find that many marinas overlook a critical component, pricing.

(0:51) I'm not referring to whether you are priced high, average, or low compared to your competition. Or even how well your price matches your offering. I've covered those in previous Minutes and could well do several more.

(0:46) I'm referring to how you handle pricing for daily, weekly, and monthly transient stays. I continue to be surprised by how many marinas either do not have weekly and monthly pricing or do not promote this pricing. And you need to understand that stating, "Call for pricing," is giving a negative impression.

(0:39) I understand that there are some marinas that only offer daily transient pricing structures. That is a perfectly valid strategy if it was developed intentionally and thoughtfully. However, my experience is that for most marinas, it has come about by uncertainty, a lack of forethought, or simple inertia.

(0:31) When boaters look at your pricing structure, it sends them a message about your expectations for the stay. If you only show a daily rate, you're saying you only want them to stay a night or two.

(0:27) Providing rates for weekly and monthly stays implies that there's a reason a boater will want to stay longer. How you structure that pricing tells me how aggressively you are courting longer stays, or not.

(0:22) Over the years, I have found that a reasonable weekly rate should be the equivalent of 5 transient nights. The monthly rate should be the equivalent of double the weekly rate.

(0:18) If you want to more aggressively attract longer term boaters, your longer term rates should be less. And if your are at or near capacity or simply wish to have less focus on longer term stays, you should set higher weekly and monthly rates.

(0:11) There is no one right model. You need to develop your own pricing strategy based on your unique situation and business goals. And your pricing structure may well change based on seasonal fluctuations.

(0:06) Don't leave it to chance. A well crafted pricing model can mean more business and increased profits.

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