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« Put Your Marina in the Local Spotlight with Special Events | Main | How to Make Your Marina Stand Out »

Increase Community Involvement and Your Marina's Profitability

This article, by Dennis Kissman, was published in Marina Dock Age –  March 2010. 

We all know that boating is predominately a social and recreational hobby that involves and requires disposable income.  But what does this have to do with your marina and why am I telling you this?  The reason is that the surrounding public and community representatives know this statement to be true and as a result will tend not to support your facility unless they view your business having a positive impact on the community.

Marinas and boatyards can change this community attitude by marketing themselves and their customers to the local community.  The following paragraphs describe how this can be done in words and deeds.

Get involved

For starters, get involved in your surrounding community, especially if you’re not actively doing so.  Many communities with water access have tourism boards or tourism departments operating under a Chamber of Commerce.  If your community does not, make efforts to start one.

As part of this group, your objective is to describe the economic impact your facility and nautical tourism has on the local community.  Educate the local tourism group and the local community on how your facility brings money into the area through hotel stays, grocery provisioning, and other trip spending by boaters.

In addition to the tourism benefits, be sure to stress the economic impact your facility has on the local community by employing workers in a specialized industry and having those workers spend their money in the community to maintain their homes and families.

Marinas should collaborate with these community groups to create special events for fund-raising and/or other economic benefits.  A few examples of these events would be sail or powerboat racing, open houses that involve the use of your marina parking lot for carnivals, restaurant festivals or other community events.  You might even initiate a “boating day” that encourages community residents, boaters and non-boaters alike, to come to your facility, learn about boating, and experience all the fun we as “boaters” are having at the marina.

Don’t forget to include marina tenants in your community events.  They can help you promote boating and talk about what your marina offers.  Marinas can collaborate with onsite restaurants to offer a special concert or get with your tenants to highlight the products or services they provide to the public and everyone will win.

Be pro-active

If you have not already, learn the politics of the area, find out who the “movers and shakers” are, and introduce them to the industry and the economic impact the boating industry has on the community.  It does not matter if you have a business that rents boats or if your business completes major refits on yachts, the community needs to know who and what you are now more than ever.

Lions Clubs, Moose organizations, and other civic groups are always looking for speakers at their luncheons.  Volunteer your services to be that speaker who will educate and inform these organizations about the joys of the boating lifestyle.  You may want to make use of local yacht club commodores to help you find an ‘in” as they tend to be integrated well within the businesses of the community.

The speaking engagements will benefit your facility.  It will spur others to help lead your charge to gain additional regional market share for your area.  Remember people, whether they are boaters or not, go to places that are not only recommended by word of mouth but also sound fun and exciting.  What you are looking for is to have others speak intelligently about your marina and what happens at your facility within the community.

Factually speaking

When speaking to others who are uneducated about the marina industry, statistics are essential.  You will need to be armed with information regarding your facility and neighboring facilities as you will want the community to help you promote your marina as a destination and a needed asset to the community.

If your marina is located in the State of Florida, one of the best ways to obtain these facts and statistics is by clicking on the Website:  Compiled by Professor Ed Mahoney at Michigan State University, this Website allows the user to literally chart and see the economic impact his facility has on the area and the impact that the marina has to boaters spending their dollars “outside of the fence.”  When you take the time to really prepare and review the input data requested, the Economic Impact Report that the model prepares is a very powerful tool to get your message across to others.

For those facilities outside of the State of Florida, get with your local Association of Marina Industries chapter that compiles realistic figures that highlight income generation within the community.  Remember, now is not the time to fight with your competition for new business but rather the time to team with them to allow for boating dollars to be spent in the region.  The boaters will determine where to spend the money in the community, but if you are involved in the creation of this community initiative, it is likely they will come to your facility.

Promote nautical tourism

Nautical tourism is one of the least understood economic generators to a community.  You have the opportunity to change that notion and this will surely result in financial rewards for your marina.

As marina operators, it’s critical that we participate in any marketing efforts or promotions to attract nautical tourists.  These are our customers.  We have a better understanding of their wants and needs and so can help refine and deliver an effective message to them.

Collaborating with local chambers of commerce, tourism agencies, and municipal organizations that promote an area is critical not only for marinas, but for the entire area.  It may seem selfish at first, but it’s the marina’s job to explain how these boats add value to the community.

Areas along waterways that are used for recreational boating, such as the Intracoastal and inland waterways, chains of lakes, and islands, should be proactive in attracting transient boaters.  Nautical tourism represents a large economic impact for areas along these waterways, but if your town or area does not send out a message that highlights your interest in accommodating these boaters, they will simply pass right by the area.

Although your marina is the gateway for nautical tourists, the entire community benefits from these boaters.  Businesses such as restaurants and bars, retail shops, museums, historical attractions, and other recreational attractions all benefit directly, while the employee base at these facilities support other businesses that are not directly related to serving transient boaters.

Dennis P. Kissman, president of Marina Management Services Inc. in Boca Raton, FL can be reached by phone at 561-338-5800 or via e-mail:

References (2)

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    Featured projects, services, special events, testimonials, podcasts, industry documents, employment news, safety issues, marketing advice, archive articles by Dennis Kissman and marine industry news and updates.
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