Enhance Your Marina: Technology for Day-to-Day Processes with Customers

We at Dockwa firmly believe that adopting online bookings and digital payment methods will advance your marina to meet the expectations of boaters today. Read how industry leaders have implemented these tools and the benefits associated with employing this technology.

(1) Offer Online Bookings and Inquiries

Given the trends in bookings and reservations in many other industries, not offering some type of online option is leaving revenue on the table. Many of your marina customers – particularly the younger generation of boaters – will discover your services online. They may want to book a slip as part of a broader itinerary they are booking on several different websites. Alternatively, some might need to secure space at the marina while they are out on the water, already heading in your direction. Both of these buying scenarios require a strong digital presence. 

If you aren’t offering your prospects and customers a way to find your slip online, you run the risk of losing out on business. It’s irresponsible for modern marinas to ignore the prevalence of online booking technology in the boating sector.

Industry Example: OpenTable

OpenTable is a San Francisco-based startup that allows diners to make reservations at local restaurants. According to company founder Chuck Templeton, he was inspired to form the company after seeing his wife spend hours trying to book a table at a restaurant on the phone. Its business model focuses on providing value to both consumers and restaurants. 

Diners worldwide get access to a huge array of different restaurants in their area, plus suggestions on new and popular options based on what other users are saying. They can book a table at a specific time and change or cancel a reservation using either a computer or phone – all completely free of charge.

From the restaurant’s perspective, one of OpenTable’s main benefits is creating a single system to handle all steps of the reservation process, from when a customer first books the table on to follow-up surveys and marketing offers.

How to Get Started With Online Bookings and Inquiries

To start, you don’t need a highly sophisticated online reservation system with many different modes and interface options. You can begin by setting up your site with a form to get all the information and documents needed, allowing you to confirm availability and the reservation quickly. Ensure all form data is stored in a central location so assigning slips and other spaces happen more smoothly. 

Eventually, you should make it a goal to transition to a more powerful digital tool that allows prospects to book a slip or mooring directly from their phone or computer. Investing in a system that allows you to manage reservations, communicate with customers and centralize information is a smart decision. Still, it’s a point that may take you some time to reach.

As you work towards this shift, you can help online prospects by giving them information and answering common questions. Be sure also to have an easy way for people to contact you directly if they can’t find what they want, such as an email or phone number. Finally, don’t forget some good photos to help them visualize their experience at your dock.


(2) Accept On-Site Payments Using a Point of Sale (POS)

Digital payments are another method rapidly growing in popularity across many industries. People today are used to paying with apps and wallets or using a credit card online. From coffee shops to movie theaters to clothing stores, businesses accept methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay to allow contactless payments from a customer’s smartphone. 

Data from Ohio University shows that 70% of American retail stores now accept Apple Pay, which uses NFC technology to allow customers to pay with a stored credit or debit card. Since they don’t share the customer’s card number with the merchant, these digital payment methods are more secure than using a traditional card or check.

Credit cards are similarly popular: one study showed that, in 2021, credit card purchases accounted for 28% of all payments. Allowing customers to use credit cards and modern POS systems is important for your business and customer convenience.

Industry Example: Toast & the Restaurant Industry

Toast markets itself as an “all-in-one digital technology platform for restaurants.” The company was founded in 2012 by three friends in Boston who spent a lot of time in bars, restaurants, and cafes. They observed that the wait time between a patron requesting a check and receiving it was often a point of friction in the dining experience.

While Toast started as a way to pay for a tab, it evolved into a more comprehensive solution for all types of restaurant transactions and processes. Today Toast offers everything from inventory management to digital ordering tools to payroll and schedule management to help busy restaurants avoid using too many software tools in their operation. 

Many modern boaters are likely to prefer traveling without cash. If your marina also includes a retail store with popular boating supplies like snacks, ice, or fishing gear, you can see how accepting more modern payments can lead to a similar increase in sales. 

How to Get Started With Digital POS Payments

At a minimum, you should be able to take credit cards from new and existing customers. Almost any business can start taking cards by signing up for a free or low-cost merchant account at a payment provider like Stripe or Square. However, you may find it’s often more convenient to have this function handled by an all-in-one software that you can also use for marketing and operations management. 

If you’re already comfortable with credit card workflows, consider going even further to accept digital payments. Doing so can be done with free or inexpensive tools offered in modern point-of-sale (POS) systems for merchants.

How Digital POS Payments Will Strengthen Customer Relationships

As mentioned, boater expectations have changed quite a bit over the last few decades. The surge in digital POS payments in industries like hospitality and dining means people have come to expect to be able to use their phone or touchless card to send payments. Besides that, many boaters don’t want to carry cash with them, particularly if they’ve got a busy itinerary with several locations.

Boaters will appreciate that they can quickly pick up last-minute items like ice, snacks, fishing supplies, or drinks without having to deal with cash or walk back to your marina’s office to pay with a credit card. It will make them appreciate your efforts to give them a seamless, enjoyable marina experience.

Let Us Help You

Are you interested in offering online bookings or implementing a digital payment system? Don't know where to start? Contact us to chat with a Dockwa product expert who will help you implement these digital practices. Better than traditional marina management software, Dockwa is tailored to fit your needs and enhance your marina to meet your customers' needs.

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