By Joe Healy, email@example.com | Photos courtesy of John Silva, Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina
The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina in Newport, R. I., offers about 65 slip spaces for transient dockage, depending on the length overall (LOA) of the boat occupying the linear space, says dockmaster John Silva, who’s in his ninth year with the marina.
Arranging the dockside puzzle pieces to accommodate transient boaters is a more flexible process with a digital-reservation system such as Dockwa, John said—not nearly as tedious and time-consuming as recording dockage with pen-and-paper or assigning slips on a whiteboard.
“We have a lot of linear dockage. Sometimes one big boat might fill the slip or it could be three (slips). For every boat that’s 120 feet, we could fit three 40-footers in the dock space. So there are a lot of puzzle pieces and playing around with the puzzle pieces in order to make as much dockage revenue as we can,” John said.
“What's helped us the most is the bookkeeping and the gathering of all the necessary information for reservations through Dockwa. For every one of the multiple thousands of reservations that we have, in the old system I would have had to take the person's credit card information, boat information, zip code—everything over the phone and that's incredibly ridiculous. It was just a monotonous process that has turned into confirm, click, accept—and I can't overstate that the convenience has helped so much.”
John credits the Dockwa network for bringing more boaters to Newport: “Obviously, with Dockwa, the exposure has been better, too. There's just flat-out been more reservations.”
He said Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina “gets clients from all over now that just maybe want to book a trip to Newport and (they can) just click and explore places and go to these destinations that they might have not even had ever heard of.”
For the marina, the year-over-year increase in bookings and revenue is impressive. Looking at the 2022 year-to-date revenue at the end of June, for example, the yearly total had shot up more than $70,000 from year-to-date at the end of June 2021. The year-over-year comparison between 2021 to 2022 for the month of July showed record growth.
“I really just want to just keep taking this place to the next level. We beat our best month ever (July) by 42 grand this year,” John continued—noting that the best month in his nine years at the marina in total revenue across dockage, electric, ice, and miscellaneous was far exceeded at the close of July 2022.
Located off Thames Street in the heart of Newport’s waterfront district, the marina is an extension of the Newport Harbor Hotel in the harbor’s northeast corner, offering guests amenities such as a restaurant, pool, open lawn, and fire pits. Both facilities are operated by the Shaner Hotel Group, a leading hotel developer, owner, and operator in the global hospitality industry.
The marina is also home port to six historic America's Cup 12-meter racing yachts, meticulously restored following their days of competition when the races were held in Newport. Nowadays, these boats are available for private charters, sunset sails, or business programs.
Currently, the marina uses Dockwa digital contracts for seasonal boaters but they also plan to use contracts through the winter, during which time they offer a live-aboard program for boaters.
“With Dockwa going into this winter, especially with the boater contracts, I'm going to have every boater’s information, and they automatically get billed on the first of the month. Before, it was such a pain in the butt trying to collect checks from people and so, that's where I'm hoping Dockwa can really help us out in the winter this year, too,” John said.
“John has done a tremendous job of elevating Newport Harbor Hotel both through business practices and adoption of technology. He was quick to use the software in ways that gave him more time to focus on items that mattered most such as increasing revenue and more importantly, creating a better boater experience. Other than being the world's most cheerful marina manager, what's impressed me most is his openness to feedback and his willingness to change. That in itself is tough to come by in this industry. John has allowed us to seamlessly integrate with Newport Harbor Hotel and unlock some potential revenue that was never before possible. All of this during a tough year of high fuel prices, inclement weather and a generally slower transient season. Working alongside John has been one of the best experiences in my time here at Dockwa,” said Dan Sules, Dockwa marina success manager.
Having the convenience of booking dockage digitally, John said he’s interested in exploring ways to increase marina revenue, such as by holding available slips for boats with more LOA. He said that the business element of a business is trying to maximize revenue, to make as much money as you can when you can.
As an example, he said that he might get a linear slip reservation request from a 26-foot boat, but to maximize revenue he can wait to see if a 40-footer or longer boat requests the slip for the weekend, increasing the marina’s revenue for that weekend.
“There are a lot of business angles that I'll look to explore into next summer as to how I can really maximize profits and revenue," he said.
It's a business approach that’s attainable when a marina manager can easily move around the dockage puzzle pieces through Dockwa’s digital marina booking—and can secure marina service such as winterization with Dockwa digital contracts.
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