Encourage customers to plan summer cruises

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With the Catawba Island (Ohio) Boat Show starting off the Great Lakes boating season this weekend, dealers everywhere should be encouraging their customers to make plans to do more cruising, fishing and enjoying more days on the water than in many recent years. And especially for those planning to cruise, dealers can recommend a new online cruise-planning course.

There is no doubt now that prices at the fuel docks and gas stations this summer will be the cheapest in 12 years. That should mean lots more boating activity. Indeed, Americans have already saved some $12 billion on gas since just the first of the year compared to 2015. Moreover, throw in another $15 billion projected savings for this summer and it’s nothing but good news.

Now if you really want to dazzle customers, point out that they’ll pocket a share of a whopping $40 billion this summer compared to the summer of 2014.

Dealers can tell their boaters that they can start planning their summer cruise(s) now with the help of a new online course called “Planning Your Cruise.” It is the latest online course being offered in partnership with the United States Power Squadrons by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. The cost is $30 ($24 for BoatUS and Power Squadrons members).

Designed to help power- and sailboaters get more out of the trip and prepare for the unexpected, the online seminar is targeted for those who have a limited amount of time for cruising inland or coastal waters — typically a long weekend or up to several weeks. It is appropriate for both first-timers and more seasoned cruisers, offering all of the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare for a cruise, including subjects ranging from comfort and meals to emergencies and security.

“Planning for Your Cruise,” is actually the second online course based on Power Squadrons educational offerings. It follows “Weather for Boaters” and, together, they come from the Power Squadrons classroom course entitled “Cruising and Cruise Planning.” For added convenience, all these courses from BoatUS can be taken on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Simply tell your customers they can find them at BoatUS.org/courses

And you’ve gotta really love this: A recent survey by AAA revealed that “two-thirds of Americans say spending quality time as a family is the most important part of taking a family vacation,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president of travel and publishing. Well, forget a one-week trip to some overpriced resort that ends all too quickly. Quality time is exactly what boating provides every time a family casts off. And that’s not just for a vacation, but with a boat it’s every weekend all summer long. That’s the great appeal of boating and it’s the message that will resonate with customers and prospects.