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Upgrading a Marina Management System

Technology can help streamline marina operations, increase revenue and optimize the guest experience
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The marina industry is no exception when it comes to keeping up with changing technology. However, upgrading to new technology can take a big bite out of the annual budget. It’s important for marina owners to select the right features and digital applications, including a marina-management system that offers the trifecta of convenience, efficiency and customer engagement.

Convenience

When you’re deciding on any business changes, one of the first questions you should ask is, “Will this make things easier for my customers?”

A top feature to consider is an Internet booking engine, which allows guests to book slips directly through the marina’s website. With this feature, guests can book as soon as they’re ready without calling the marina office. Customers can lock in their slip location, size and features with an interactive marina map. At the same time, marinas avoid online travel agency fees by capturing the reservation directly.

A guest portal is another must-have for any marina-management system. With the adoption of contactless technology during the Covid-19 pandemic, customers have grown accustomed to making reservations digitally and having more booking options. Not only does a guest portal let guests view their reservations, but it also provides a convenient place to add upgrades, extend their stay or make additional changes. Boaters will cruise in confidence knowing they have full autonomy over their experience.

Another feature spurred on by the pandemic is mobile check-in. This option is also convenient for late-night check-ins — for the boater and your staff.

Efficiency

Speeding up tasks and automating processes frees up staff to tend to such matters as customer service and maintenance. So when looking for a state-of-the-art marina-management system, check for features that can help you achieve operational efficiency.

Pricing can be a massive undertaking for marina owners, with slip prices fluctuating with the seasons and customer demand. Adjusting prices manually is time-consuming, especially if your marina is listed across multiple platforms. Two features that can help ease the burden of this task are a channel manager and dynamic pricing.

A channel manager streamlines a property’s listings into one place, making it easier to update prices from one location and automatically import bookings into a reservation system. Dynamic pricing helps managers automatically set prices depending on occupancy and demand. This feature pushes for higher prices during peak times and incentivizes occupancy during slower periods.

Software integrations are another critical efficiency factor because they collect all the data needed to run a business in one system. Integrations can include accounting software, point-of-sale systems, online travel agencies and payment processing.

Not every management system integrates with the same software, so be sure to check for compatibility when selecting a marina management system.

Engagement

A recent Salesforce report showed that 80 percent of consumers believe the experience a company provides is just as important as products or services. Finding a marina management system with flexible, built-in marketing tools such as email marketing, text messaging and guest-messaging apps is crucial to building and maintaining deeper relationships with guests — relationships that will keep them coming back.

Emails are a great way to relay information to guests. By targeting specific email lists, marina operators can be sure the right kind of information reaches customers at the best time. From sending updated health-and-wellness protocols to informing guests of upcoming events, marketing emails are a versatile tool. SMS messages sent to mobile devices are also popular as a way to alert guests instantly with reservation confirmations, reminders and more. (As with any type of customer communication, give guests the option to opt out of this method.) And while marketing emails and texts are excellent communication tools before and after a guest’s stay, while guests are on-site, messaging apps can obviate the hassle of trekking to the marina office and finding staff. Your team can reach out to guests wherever they are, and staff can answer questions from any connected device.

Upgrading technology is an essential task, but not necessarily easy. Marina owners will face a learning curve, and staff will need training. But in the long run, upgrading to a system that offers robust digital features to meet the expectations of the tech-savvy guest, while also alleviating administrative workloads, is a smart business decision that will lead to a more efficient, guest-focused marina. 

Chuck Dunaj is senior sales executive of RMS North America.

This article was originally published in the February 2022 issue.

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