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2021 September October Marina World

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MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE/INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS with the technology available.” Cohen explains that marinas can become smarter through software alone. “The good news is that marinas don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money on expensive electronic hardware to reach a ‘smart’ status. The technology is available to revolutionise the marina operations through software. It’s about more than just graduating from the old pen and paper and magnet board system. It’s about adopting best practices to be aware of bigger trends and be able to answer the marina’s needs now and in the future.” The benefits of smart software come in three parts: monitoring, communication and automation. “Monitoring is perhaps the most straightforward to explain,” says Cohen. “It’s having control over what’s happening in your marina. It means constantly knowing what’s going on right now and what will happen in the next few days. We found that many marinas struggle to answer simple questions such as ‘can you tell me how many berths you’ll have available in two days?’ That’s the sort of thing software can answer for you. A smart marina can skip the complex, human error-prone decision making process and instead rely on valid, current information gained from multiple data sources. Which berths are occupied, which are vacant and for how long? These questions could be as easy to answer as picking a tab on your browser. It’s only one aspect, but it makes an impactful difference.” Fast, secure communication is another crucial element. “When you make a reservation at a hotel, for example, it’s an easy process. You’ll send an email or use a booking site, and you get confirmation almost instantly. Why not do the same for reserving a berth at a marina?” asks Cohen. “We’ve come a long way. Marinas and boaters need to understand each other’s expectations. It’s a matter of trust and will add much-needed transparency to their relationship. Government expectations also play a role. Regulations, such as GDPR, mean that marinas are responsible for keeping boater data safe and using it properly and with consent. Many marinas fear changing their methods because they don’t know how to meet these standards, but the current workflow isn’t designed to Idan Cohen: “I think it’s possible that in a few years, a boater will be able to reserve a berth and pay for it online without the marina staff needing to lift a finger until the yacht is at port.” accommodate such concerns. Working intelligently with your software is the best way forward.” Communication, of course, runs both ways. Marinas can also benefit from being able to contact their boaters digitally. “We think of our software as a means to achieve much-needed transparency between marinas and their boaters,” explains Cohen. “For example, we constantly hear from marinas about the issues that arise from poor communication on the side of their boaters that lead to inefficiency. These are exactly the sort of issues that smart marina software can address. Marinas can rely on the software as a go-between and build for themselves a clearer picture of their operations.” But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of smart marina software lies in automation. Using algorithms to take care of time-consuming tasks for you is only the beginning. The real excitement happens when the software is able to take things further. “Smart marina software can be so much more than simply a dedicated operating system,” he says. “We use data science to optimise and automate the berth reservation process including waiting lists. We take the time-consuming task of approving a reservation and automate it to save hours of work.” According to Cohen, automating the reservation flow is only one facet. “As more and more marinas adopt a smarter approach, using the same protocols and having systems that can complement one another, we’re going to see new value propositions. I think it’s possible that in a few years, a boater will be able to reserve a berth and pay for it online without the marina staff needing to lift a finger until the yacht is at port. That frees the marinas to focus on what’s important – their boaters – and offering them personal service. The type of comprehensive data that will generate might end up in new products that we never even dreamed of.” Cohen believes that the boating industry as a whole is due for an update. “All across the world, we see the benefits of adopting industrywide standards. Banking, academics, hospitality, aviation – the results are always the same: adopting digital best practices makes the industry more accessible and opens the door for new revenue opportunities. The boating industry has much to gain from following that example.” Using technology to improve operations also has environmental benefits. “A smart marina is a sustainable marina. It means a marina that achieves more with less. As more and more marinas adopt this new standard, the industry as a whole will be better equipped to keep up with the rising demand.” The boating industry has several changes coming for it in the years to come. Better standards of living mean all leisure industries should expect increased demand, and younger boaters are used to easy seamless user experiences and expect their marinas to be interconnected and versatile. Marinas, as the backbone of the sector, should recognise this as an opportunity. “Better management of supply and demand, a better understanding of the boater’s journey – these are things that marinas should want for themselves,” says Cohen. “The technology is available to turn marinas into leisure hubs that are interconnected with multiple services, the community around them, and the ecosystem of the boating industry as a whole. This is the time that we as an industry were waiting for. Let’s work together to create the smart marinas of the future.” – September/October 2021 39

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