Hope You had a great 2017.

It´s always great to look back. Although the summer was a bit late the bravest still sailed in December here in the Baltic Sea. The same did we kind of.

Our first customer Abruka harbour in Estonia started from July. Naissaare harbour took Marina Ahoy into use from September and served 170 customers until the end of the season. There was a lot of feedback, I really mean a lot. Those were the busiest months for us understanding our customers and developing the pits and pieces necessary for their everyday work. And we had our proof of concept.

For season 2018 we have 20 harbours from Estonia already on board managing more than half the number of all visits by boat and it´s still December right? There are some more harbours around the Baltic.

We started from mobile apps. They still call our tool “the app”, but today Marina Ahoy is much more a management tool for harbours and will be in the future. We saw that there are more benefits for sailors to use a convenience app if the harbours support its features - occupancy overview not only for harbours but also for sailors using the app, booking, self-check in and mobile payments, sign-out of seasonal berth-holders with marking the return date to allow harbours serve more customers while their seasonal berth-holders are out.

A full-functional self-service means more convenience for sailors, less hassle for harbours and more time to just chat with the friendly harbour master.

Our team wishes You an innovative next season and hope to hear from you soon!

#guestharbours #Sailing

This article was first published in METS Trade community page

Marina software. What? Have you noticed how seamlessly smartphones have changed our lives? Or take a step back – do you remember your first mobile phone? Now, can you imagine what will come next? The fact that the world is changing faster than we can keep up to is actually quite intriguing. Innovation lies not only in the technology, but the technology acts as an enabler for innovation around us. The Maritime Industry, which is still considered quite conservative, has made a visible shift during the last years. Self-driving ships are just the tip of the iceberg.

Marina software alternatives today.

It’s often been said that a large part of the marinas sector seems to be resting on its laurels. But are they really? Our team has been interviewing marinas for the last 2 years and have seen the rising interest for innovation. So, the assumption that marinas are satisfied with their achievements and make an effort to strive to modernize, could be misleading. Attitude is usually tied with the mindset - the season is always too short, the weather could be better for sure and it´s much easier to make money in every other field than operating a marina.

Thanks to the interviews we did, we have collected quite some qualitative input for our service development. We’ve seen marinas, that still operate on pen and paper. More often we saw the use of marina software to ease management and the use of different web platforms to increase visibility. What is clear is that there is no common practice.

When you can afford a standalone marina software and pay for the integrations you may be just fine for a while. But when trying to optimize like most of the small marinas do - the options are quite limited. A mix of invoicing software, Excel sheets used for occupancy overview, listings in different booking apps, manual reporting and the accounting mess afterwards have put some of the marinas on hold, making them feel that technology only causes more trouble. Well, our team in Marina Ahoy has a proof of concept on how we can make the difference.

Marina software- what harbour managers think of it?

When we started off with our first customer - a thin and effective state owned harbour operator - we saw plenty of room for improvement.

We believe that the next generation marina management will be done in collaboration with marina customers within a wide network of cooperating marinas. Everything will go mobile; self-service for sure, positioning based solutions instead of fragile IoT on site, In app access instead of plastic cards. Respectable harbourmasters will be assisted with the help of intuitive technology instead of cheap seasonal labour. Harbourmasters will already know who is coming far in advance. Information with regards to problematic vessels is shared amongst the network. All you need is the internet connection and your existing gear.

In 2015, when we started off with our first customer Saarte Liinid Ltd (slmarinas.ee) - a thin and effective state owned harbour operator like the Estonian state itself, we saw plenty of room for improvement.

They’d already implemented Google Spreadsheets to work with multiple people on the same page. Manually, they made every entry, marked every paid invoice, spent days for reporting and more days for doublechecking. Despite Spreadsheets, they weren´t paper free. They still collected card payment checks and clamped them with print-out invoices to ease doublechecking. Customer service workflows were traditional which turned out problematic when visitors would arrive after working hours and left before than the harbourmaster would arrive the next day. More than once it happened that sailors were jotting down smiley faces instead of providing proper data in the check-in documents and bigger boats appeared smaller on paper so that harbour charges would be less. This list goes on and on.

First of all, the rule of thumb – to improve your business, cut costs and earn more.

The first thing we set up was a digital harbour journal for check-in procedures. This was backed up with a self-service app for sailors. Following the rule that all information should be entered only once, already made that we had won more time which could be spent on better customer service. The next step we took was reinventing the invoicing system from the perspective of the marinas. Predefined pricelists that we had to develop for in app payments now also served for manual invoicing. Autofill for extra items, clear payment details in the harbour dashboard and one click export files released extra time not only for the customer but also for accounting and management. It became even easier with an integrated mobile card terminal.

And I know this may sound cliché, but we saw the possibility to make the marinas more sailor friendly for using marina software. We gave seasonal members the possibility to check out through their mobiles; in addition, this one click procedure meant an automatic entry in the harbour journal. We did the same for the guests check-in procedure – pay mobile and that’s it. That meant more time to chat with the friendly harbour master instead of bureaucracy on site. God is in the details. We have probably spent more time redesigning old systems than building new ones. It’s our challenge to keep an eye on the big picture, reuse the data again and again and skip some more unnecessary steps.

Want to collaborate? Get in touch.

#MarinaAhoy #Sailing #guestharbours #marinamanagementsoftware #marinasoftware

Marina app developments bringing interesting times in the nautical tourism sector. Season 2018 is about to begin and there are more apps around than ever before for better communication between harbours and their guests. When we started at the end of 2015 we aimed to understand what is really needed. What were the software solutions back then to ease the harbour management and what kind of business models the marina app providers used to sell their services. It was soon clear, that the nautical tourism sector isn´t the same around the globe. Similar but not the same. In fact it was different enough that even the same business logic wouldn’t work. The more it is odd to see new attempts to create a better booking apps for the whole world without actually differ from the failed ones.

The times when harbour visitors had to pay a booking fee of 10% are long gone.

We saw it back then when some of the more innovative hotel reservation service providers started to cut off the booking fees by offering more valuable services to the hotel itself. Your client is the king. Do they have to pay a share for asking a better customer service?

A multilingual marina app doesn´t mean you get great service in your home country.

Bang! The app was launched in New Zealand! Really? The possibilities of world wide web doesn’t mean there is usable support or understanding for all of the parts of the world without having someone familiar with the local specificities.

Booking is not the only magic thingy.

A booking app, and another one. What about a descent solution for first-come first served principles? What are you really missing?

Who´ll be there the next summer?

Building services for a sector so seasonal means each year there will be a new beginning. Are the university projects and grant money initiatives here also the next year?

Nobody is perfect. Dealing with software there is always room for improvement. But in which direction? Building a service and offering service are not the same. When thinking about going online, take your moment, write me, I want to understand your story to advise you what could do the job.

#guestharbours #MarinaAhoy #Sailing #booking #marinaapp


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