How Marinas Can Adopt a Wallet-less Experience

Meet customer expectations so your boaters can make marina boat charges, wallet-lessly, by saying, “Put it on my account” with no credit-card swiping or signature required.

In this article you’ll discover how to:

• Save time both for boaters and marina staff

• Make a marina visit more convenient and welcoming for the boaters

• Control dockside backups at fuel pumps

• Have more time to get to know boaters, personally away from cash registers, card-swipers, or phone calls


“Phone, wallet, keys” is a common mental checklist when leaving the house for any reason. It’s also the theme of a risqué song by the comedian Adam Sandler. (Advisory: Don’t Google the Sandler song in public!) 


However, like the kid’s game rock-paper-scissors, the middle component of this mnemonic is being outweighed by the first—phone trumps wallet—mainly because a wallet is no longer a necessity as a cache for your cash.


More and more, across many industries, payments for consumer services are made digitally. If you order food through companies such as Toast, Doordash, GrubHub, and UberEats, you’ll likely pay for the service digitally. Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Klarna, Venmo, and PayPal are examples of financial-service providers enabling wallet-less experiences.


Wallet-less means cash does not actually change hands—the payment is made direct from the customer’s credit card, often on file in the respective customer’s account. 

Not surprisingly, these types of transactions increased exponentially during the pandemic years, when the idea of social distancing and hand’s free everything was crucial to public health.


Digital is the Way Business Gets Done

Products-as-a-service companies such as Airbnb or even the good old airlines expect reservations and bookings through their websites. For example, when’s the last time you called an airline to book a flight?


According to a report in USA Today, almost 70 percent of more than 1,200 smartphone owners surveyed by SurveyMonkey Audience expect that smartphones will eventually replace the need for wallets; nearly half (45 percent) think wallets will be obsolete in a couple of years. 

Why Does This Matter to Marinas?

Of course, you want to ensure the best customer experience for your boaters. And the truth is, wallet-less billing will eliminate many friction points for customers, making the experience at your marina more convenient for them.

  1. If you’re currently only taking reservations through the phone, boaters will have to wait until business hours to reach you. In 2021, 415,000 new boaters came to the sport. These boaters will be more accustomed to instant booking and response rates, like with AirBnB, hotels, and airlines. Without this option, they’ll shop around until they find a marina at which they can book digitally within less than 1 minute. 
  2. When you’re tied to phone reservations, you’ll wind up spending most of your time in the back office and not out on the docks—which is where you really want to be.
  3. When things get super-busy and you’re running from the docks to the office to process fuel and dock charges, you’re missing out on phone calls and key interactions. Your boaters spend time waiting for transactions to process before they can get on with their days, and you miss out on some quality time getting to know them.
  4. If you’re spending several days out of each month trying to collect and send out contracts and invoices, you’re not able to be out on the docks, taking care of other important things around the marina, and building relationships with your boaters. The manual process of billing, invoicing, and all of the labor-intensive aspects of printing, collating, and sending them are a pain.

How to be Wallet-less Today

The most compelling reason to offer marina customers wallet-less opportunities? Simply put: Because they’re used to the convenience of those transactions.

There are three areas in which you can especially focus on creating a wallet-less marina experience:


  1. Transient bookings: Boaters can request reservations on their own timeline and schedule, be it early in the morning when they’re sipping coffee and visualizing their trip, during marina hours, or (more and more common) after hours in the evening when marina staff has signed off for the day. Here, you can automatically accept, waitlist, or decline requests—from your easy chair or couch! Then your boating customers can add fuel, ice, pump outs, and other charges to the reservation directly to the credit card on file in their “house account;”

  1. Longterm dockage and storage: Your marina can automate contracts, renewals, and boater signature collections; you can automate monthly, quarterly, seasonal, or annual billing; and you can communicate with your boater customer at any time;

  1. Point of sales: Save time on fuel transactions by charging the customer’s card on file in their house account; provide “white-glove service” by allowing boaters to add charges directly to their reservation and you can add other basic services to their reservation portfolio.

Meeting Your Boaters’ Expectations

For boaters using the slip and mooring reservation software platform from Dockwa, gone are the time-consuming reservation phone calls and fretting over reservations, and they gain peace of mind when they can charge ice and other necessary items either ahead of arrival or at the marina and it gets done, without card swiping or a signature.


For you and your marina staff, no more late nights in the marina office fielding reservation calls or collecting on, processing, and tabulating accounts for marina charges. It all goes directly through the boater’s Dockwa account—which you can consider their marina house account.


Boaters feel welcome at your marina when their purchasing requests are acknowledged and attended to—they’ll remember the hospitality. Moreover, trust develops, a key element leading to repeat and loyal business, which is especially important when transient boaters are looking for a comfortable stay and a sense of place at a marina.


What’s more, your marina will experience fewer backups at the fuel docks because boaters can fill and go, without a dockhand running to the marina office to swipe the credit card and then running back for a signature. Wallet-less will control some of the chaos that occurs in the marina office and on fuel docks during the busiest seasons.


And you and marina staff are freed up to meet boaters on the docks and in the marina facilities, fostering friendly and social interactions, building authentic community away from sales interactions. 


The outcome is a better experience for the boater—and for the marina.

Wallet-less is Convenient and Saves Time

In the marina space, using a digital platform such as Dockwa not only gives boaters the convenience of requesting a slip or mooring at your marina anytime, secured with a digital payment; the boaters also can leave their wallet in safe storage and quickly and cleanly make purchases at your marina. (If a slip or mooring is requested after-hours using Dockwa, the marina sees the request at the start of the next business day—or track reservation requests in real-time, which you can also do with Dockwa).


In this regard, what’s more convenient for a boater than saying, “Put it on my account” and fuel, ice, dockside electricity, or other boat charges are processed directly through the boater’s house account, powered by Dockwa? If the boater changes the credit card attached to their Dockwa account, the account is immediately updated to capture any new marina charges.  


The boater is satisfied by the transactional convenience—which doesn’t feel like a transaction at all—and the marina gets paid via transfer payment following the date the boater is charged—either immediately or upon departure, which you can select on the Dockwa platform. (For more on how Dockwa Boat Charge billing works, click over to the Dockwa support desk).


This is a huge advantage your marina gains through digital services such as Dockwa’s Manage and Optimize platforms.


And it’s what consumers want and have come to expect.

“A wallet-less experience on the marina docks benefits everyone—the marina staff and the boaters. It creates a more seamless experience and saves time both in the marina office and on the water so folks spend less time on the fuel dock and more time enjoying boating,” said Tripp Messinger, Dockwa’s manager of customer success implementation. 

Here’s one marina’s success story of maintaining wallet-less or boater house accounts through Dockwa.


Click here for more detail on how Dockwa helps marinas offer a wallet-less experience—and get started with wallet-less customer relationships. Your boaters will thank you.

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