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May June 2020 Marina World

  • Text
  • Lindley
  • Pandemic
  • Mooring
  • Pontoons
  • Boaters
  • Boating
  • Software
  • Boats
  • Marine
  • Marinas
The magazine for the marina industry

Delivering efficiency.

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INTELLIGENT MARINA SYSTEMS keeping the organisation’s website up-to-date on if, how and what services are still available and when or how boaters can access their boats along with regular email send-outs, are ways to keep everyone informed. Tools like Canva can help you create beautiful content for social media and mass communications (it’s also really fun!). Hosting Zoom happy hours, creating fun competitions for boaters to do from their own boats with leaderboards posted on your website, and low touch, socially distant “adventures” for kids around the marina are all options. Creative marina managers will find ways to leverage social media and other technologies to keep their communities engaged and interacting with each other. All of these customer service components rely on good communication. Email and phone calls are a regular part of most operations and support most activities. A CRM is a software tool designed to help manage customer relationships. The software acts as a kind of phone book recording customer details, notes and usually allows you to send emails from within the system. Some marina management software systems like Swell have a built in CRM specifically designed to serve boaters offering features like group e-mailing to specific groups of boaters, automated communications to support accounts receivable and booking slips, and even includes text messaging. CRMs generally meld operational information with customer support tools designed to streamline customer service and can assist with social distancing. The new kid on the block for a lot of organisations will be using text (SMS) messaging to communicate with boaters. The pandemic will probably accelerate the use of texting by businesses. It’s a great way to know when your food order is ready for pick-up or that the pump out has been sanitised and is ready for the next boat. For some of us who didn’t grow up with texting, it can feel like an invasive and cold way to communicate. But, especially for those under 40, texting is a preferred method of communication. There are a number of industry nonspecific group texting services available and we’re increasingly seeing drystack systems use automated texting to coordinate launch and haul-outs. Marina hardware has been steadily improving with a focus on customer self-service, monitoring and wireless meter reading. A lot of these improvements can inadvertently help operators in a post-pandemic world. Companies like MarineSync have developed pedestals with various sensors and online meter reading enables services like power and water to be turned on and off remotely. These innovations can limit staff’s need to directly interact with transient boaters. Self-serve fuel pumps have been gaining popularity for a few years. Given expected new regulations and insurance policy clauses, marinas will probably have to disinfect these kinds of self-serve tools on a regular basis, as well as track when the task was completed. There have also been a lot of improvements with remote marina monitoring through video systems and sensors that allow people to remotely monitor boats. A direct video or image capture feed to the marina’s website can give boaters’ peace of mind and reduce unnecessary trips to the marina if desired. Deciding on what technologies to use to help your organisation in this new post-pandemic reality is going to depend on your service offering, your staff, new local regulations, any adjustments to your insurance policy and your boaters. The good and bad news is that you have a lot of options to find just the right fit for your organisation. Bleier, from MarineSync, thinks the pandemic is going to lead operators towards “new ways of accessing data remotely. New ways of accepting payments. New ways of communicating with clients. New ways of interacting. The new technologies and software we’re leveraging and embracing during the pandemic, will likely be adopted (in some capacity) into business architecture once this all calms down.” One thing the experts agree on is we will see waves of the coronavirus in the coming months and years. Through all of this, people and organisations are getting a crash course on using technology – from ordering groceries online, to grandparents giving parents a break by distracting the kids on Zoom. Many people, who wouldn’t think of using digital services a few months ago, are coming out of the pandemic with a new comfort level when it comes to using technology. It will be interesting to see if and how the boating industry adapts to meet this new comfort level and boaters’ new expectations around service delivery supported by technology. If we as an industry play it right, boating might even see a resurgence as a safe, socially distant activity. Iaian Archibald is the co-founder and CEO of Swell Advantage Ltd. Swell builds modern management software for marinas, boat clubs and mixed-use waterfronts. www.swelladvantage.com www.marinaworld.com - May/June 2020 39

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