Creating Experiences. Thanks to a new generation of boating enthusiasts, those two words should be imprinted in your mind as the strategy of 2018. At the core, marinas are essentially the same as they were 30 years ago—and by and large, they still accomplish the basics. But with the surge of millennials quickly becoming a major force in the marketplace—as boat owners, boat-share members and watersport lovers—it may be time to consider upgrades that meet their lifestyle and lead to the experiences they crave.
Remember, this is the demographic borne greatly from the baby boomer generation, and a lot of them caught the boating bug from their parents. So, the water love is the same—but the difference lies in attitudes. While the majority of boomers looked at boats as trophies (aka: overflowing with bells & whistles), millennials tend to value minimalism—they want a functional, well-performing boat that will get them out on the water, and deliver an amazing experience (i.e. wake boarding, surfing, water skiing).
In that same vein, this generation wants the ability to shape their marina experience, as well.
To achieve this, there’s no need to overhaul your entire marina space — just make sure it has the right amenities, smartest upgrades, and most valuable benefits in place.
Connectivity Is a Must
Mobile devices are weaved into the fabric of virtually everyone’s lives—especially millennials. This is the generation that documents every move online, so connectivity means a lot. Embrace that knowledge by installing a reliable, secure Wi-Fi network for your boaters to use off the water. Also, make sure you have social media profiles online—because every positive mention on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr is free advertising for your marina.
Take Advantage of Boat-Share Partnerships
Millennial-aged boaters love to get out on the water, but purchasing a vessel may not be in their financial plan…yet. That’s why partnering with a boat-share company like Freedom Boat Club, Carefree® Boat Club or a locally-owned club is a smart way to attract these clients. Get in the game and you’ll be the area’s go-to boat-share destination. Plus, you’ll be giving this crowd the power to enjoy every water-inspired experience they want (including fishing, water-sports, and leisure) without the expensive ties of ownership.
Be Pet Friendly
Leashed dogs are allowed at most marinas, but not many cater to the comfort of four-legged boaters. Stand out from the pack and give these furry sidekicks their own joyful experiences by welcoming them with quality dog treats, providing doggy waste bags at the entrance and having clearly marked waste disposal bins on-site. For regular visitors to the marina, make an effort to remember names—including the dogs. That kind of personal connection leaves a friendly impression that often inspires positive online feedback (always a good thing!).
Offer Perks to Tenants
Elevate the guest experience for tenants (those who rent/own space at the docks) by offering exclusive perks. Provide discounts on supplies at the marina shop; present anniversary gifts for every year they dock with you (i.e. bottle of wine or boat-style picnic basket); or make connections with marina-close restaurants for “one free drink” or “one complimentary appetizer” vouchers. Another idea is to feature concierge-style services upon request, such as having the boat readied with snacks, bait, ice and beverages when the client arrives. Again, this sort of personalized attention makes all the difference, and tenants will remember it when reviews and social media come into play.
Improve Your Marina with Function in Mind
There are a lot of ways to enhance your Marina décor with little effort. For example, you could add underwater LED dock lighting that emits a beautiful warm glow. The lights will attract an array of sea life (creating some stunning sights) and will offer illumination for late-night docking.
Also, look at the condition of your docks, railings, and pier ends. Do they need renovations or reinforcements? Consider these important elements to decide: your dock’s surface should be smooth and non-slip for safety; the dock’s freeboard should be appropriate to the size and kind of vessels secured in that location; ample lighting and accent lighting should be placed around the docks and gangways; plus, wide dock areas should ideally have a high-load capacity without worry about submerging or tilting.
Is your marina ready for a new generation of boaters? Let us know what you’re doing to deliver the experiences they want!