New On-Line Reservation Service for Boaters to Bahamas
The Association of Bahamas Marinas has launched a suite of on-line services and products designed to create further distance between The Bahamas and competing boating destinations. Reflective of the newly assertive stance adopted by the ABM on behalf of its 29 member marinas, the robust new website contains a powerful booking engine and is supported by a call centre that responds to telephone calls.
Supported by Dockwa, a boater-facing on-line service that allows boaters to ﬁnd marinas and make reservations 24 hours a day, the marine booking engine is a first for The Bahamas and represents a counterpart to the on-line travel agencies that have revolutionised the travel industry for air travel and hotel accommodation. Dockwa’s reservation management system allows users of the ABM website marinas to track all their reservations and collect payment with a user-friendly software interface.
For ABM partner marinas, Dockwa’s marina management software streamlines the reservation process. Dockwa not only expands a marina’s marketing reach and provides a better customer experience, it also increases operational efficiency and frees up time for marina staff.
“The ABM has adopted a very assertive attitude,” says association president, Stephen Kappeler. “We firmly believe that The Bahamas has been under-performing in the boating market, so we decided to ramp things up a notch. Our partnership with Dockwa gives our member marinas the tools and visibility necessary to attract more customers, enhance guest experience, streamline marina operations, and ultimately generate more revenue,” he said. Bringing additional muscle to the partnership, Dockwa recently acquired Marinas.com, which has more than eight million unique visitors, a very large boat owner database and social media reach, which offers huge opportunities for greater market penetration by e-mail for ABM member marinas.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association of America estimates spending on recreational boats and related costs totalled well over $35 billion in 2014, with nearly 36% of Americans taking to the water at least once. Conservative estimates of the value of the portion of that business currently received by The Bahamas put the sector’s economic contribution at $46.3 million.
The ABM has been encouraged by a recent report by the Caribbean Development Bank: Strategies for Enhanced Economic Impact, which asserts “To a certain extent, yacht tourists are similar to long-stay tourists, but because of their longer length of stay and patterns of spending, they may generate more benefit to the local economy than regular tourists. In addition, part of the spending by yachters tends to be specific to the industry, and in many cases, has stricter ties to the local economies than other forms of spending by tourists.”
“Boating is not an inexpensive pursuit”, says Capt. Peter Maury, the ABM’s immediate past president “It costs good money to get into it and even more to remain active. The visitors we receive by boat have the ability, and the need to spend generously, once they get here. The extent to which we can make it easier for them to make arrangements, will eventually contribute positively to our economy”, he says.
The ABM’s booking engine is supported by a call centre, run by Bahamian Beth Watson. The call centre is a ‘one stop shop’ for travellers to The Bahamas with the ability to make slip and hotel reservations at all of the 29 member properties, as well as flight reservations for those not traveling by boat, with just one phone call - telephone (toll-free: 844-556-5290, or U.S.: 954-462-4591), or firstname.lastname@example.org.