The wrong label

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Could a name we use to label someone actually reveal our attitude toward them? I think it can. Could it send, unintended, a negative message? Probably.

Recently on a cruise I called ahead to a marina I wanted to visit to see if I could get a dock for the weekend. My call was met by a lady saying: “Oh, you’re a transient.” I instantly felt like responding back with something like “Yea, but I got shots for it!” I didn’t, of course, but her words did hit me in a negative way and that got me thinking.

First, I don’t know whether or not the lady valued transients but I must say I didn’t exactly “feel the love!” Why was I labeled a transient anyway? Why does our industry call boaters who are visiting our marinas transients? Transients, after all, are defined as “fleeting” or “short-lived.” I don’t like to think of myself that way and I really hope others don’t either!

Look, when strangers come into our town in a car or a plane we call them tourists. Better, yet, anyone who stops at Disney World or spends a night in any hotel will be called a guest. In virtually all communities, no matter our mode of transportation, except in a boat of course, when we arrive we’ll be called a visitor. But, if by sea, we’re a transient!

These days, we spend a lot of time talking about improving our customer’s boating experience as an important consideration in growing boating again. Perhaps we need to take time to review with all the employees in our dealerships and marinas just how we intend to accomplish that. We might start by replacing old labels with more inviting ones. It’s true -- what we first say to a customer has an effect, good or bad, but definitely an effect. Remember: “Loose lips sink ships” or “Words can change the course of history.” It’s a fact, words and labels have power. So, when I want to cruise into your marina (or visit your dealership,) you might call me something that makes me feel more welcome and important. Labels like transient doesn’t do it!

And that’s the way I see it, how about you?

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