10 common mistakes when running a boat or yacht charter business

“A mistake is an experience, choice or concept that is necessary for us to have or make in order to evolve beyond it. Errors can be the launchpad of great ideas.”

― Stewart Stafford

Even the seasoned captain and his crew occasionally commit mistakes despite investing time and effort to plan a memorable trip for their passengers. Find out the 10 common errors of boat and yacht charter businesses and learn how to circumvent from these blunders to improve operations.

1. Belittling the value of a good website

Some yacht owners make the mistake of hiring someone to create their website who do not have a clear understanding of business goals such as (1) building awareness, (2) informing buyers about your company and services, and (3) boosting leads and convert visitors to customers.

What’s the point of having a company website when visitors feel like leaving after just a few minutes because of poor user experience? Things slow website load speed, poorly written content, or low-quality images can discourage a visitor from checking out the rest of your pages and look for business elsewhere. Losing potential customers due to a poor website is like saying goodbye to money.

How to avoid this? Many modern customers often seek for yachting and boating related services online that’s why a user-friendly and compelling website is not just a mere option anymore but a must.

charter website

An excellent digital marketing agency can help you create a website from scratch or redesign your old one to give it the right fit that will direct more traffic to your pages and help gain customers’ trust. Following the best standards of design and development, that agency can build a customized website that is functional, easy to use and navigate, as well as engaging. Sometimes there’s no need to delete your existing content but creating something fresh and interesting regularly is a must these days. And since many customers rely on their mobiles and other handheld gadgets, a good agency will make it a point to design modern and mobile-friendly websites with the benefits of SEO and conversion optimization.

2. Sailing terms overload

Another common mistake is assuming that a client has gone sailing before and bombarding them with all kinds of sailing jargon and technical terms. A client sailing with you for the first time might feel pressured to keep up with all the information you are throwing at him. Depending on the situation, a customer might feel embarrassed to clarify things that he doesn’t understand to avoid looking foolish in front of the captain and crew. This kind of thinking can easily spoil a customer’s overall sailing experience and result in bad reviews for you.

How to prevent this from happening? Explain things in layman’s terms whether you’re presenting information in your website or explaining something to a client. You can also make your customers feel comfortable in your presence through simple gestures like smiling and talking to them in a friendly manner. It’s always wise to ask for information regarding the client’s sailing experience rather than making assumptions.

If the client does not have any previous experience, be enthusiastic in showing them the ropes. Make everyone aboard feel safe and confident knowing that they are in the good hands of a seasoned captain and crew. Erase any worries that your passengers may have by listening to their concerns, answering their questions, and letting them know that you will be there to guide them from the beginning until it’s time to disembark.

3. Limited information

Highlighting the features of your boat or yacht is an essential part of marketing but what about your destination and other vital information? If the client cannot find the details of the sailing destination and the itinerary, chances are you’ll end up losing your lead because many people want to know what they are getting themselves into before booking a trip. Although you have a contact number and email address on your website, not everyone is willing to take the time to call or write to you to ask for more information.

What can you do to avoid this? It’s best to share the focal points of each trip on your company website so that visitors know what to expect and what they are paying for. For example, you can give an overview of the trip, duration, price, schedule, sites to visit, things included in the trip price, add-on fees, recommended things to bring, and so on. You are more likely to get conversions when you provide visitors with all the necessary information they need to make their decision.


4. No provision for partial payment

Some charter companies require their clients to pay the full amount of the trip in order to secure their booking. The lack of provision to make a partial payment (downpayment) and the balance to be settled on the day of the trip can discourage some people from booking with you.

What is a better option? The boating and yacht charter business exists in a competitive environment that’s why owners are constantly thinking of ways to outshine their competitors.

Let’s say a group of friends is looking for a sailing charter in Dubai and comes across two companies (example: ABC and XYZ) offering the same services at similar prices. However, ABC requires 100% full payment upon booking while XYZ only needs 50% downpayment to secure the booking and the 50% balance to be paid on or before the trip date. Assuming that both have good reviews, the group is likely to book with XYZ because of their better payment scheme.

5. Neglecting small details

Some charters provide basic services but fail to pay attention to small details that might mean a lot to some clients.

What can you do? Go the extra mile for your customers to help you gain positive feedback. For example, you can provide meal options for vegetarians or offer a kid-friendly menu. Another suggestion is to keep children’s books and small toys for kids to read and play with onboard. It’s also a good idea to keep seasickness medications for people who have not found their sea legs.

yacht dining

6. Unclear cancellation policies

A company with unclear cancellation policies that are arbitrarily enforced may be regarded by the client as a red flag. There is a chance that you will lose your leads when they find your cancellation policies confusing or lacking.

How to correct the situation? Review your existing cancellation policies and make sure that it is clear, fair, and posted on your website. By having an effective cancellation policy in place, you can reduce no-shows and cancellation rates.

7. Cash basis only

Some charter companies only honor cash payment because it minimizes bookkeeping and the risk of fraud. However, modern clientele usually prefers credit card transactions because they are fast and easy. With mobile credit card processing applications, settling credit card payments has become simple and more convenient.

cash payment

How to deal with this kind of challenge? It’s about time that you change your payment procedures and begin accepting major credit card payments. Taking your business from a cash-only operation to one that accepts credit cards can encourage more people to avail of your charter services.

8. Manual booking system

The problem with a manual booking system is the constant pressure on the staff to make sure that all trip schedules and other details are accurate and timely. The problem with manual scheduling is the tedious administrative tasks and the risk of double booking.

How to solve this kind of issue? An online booking system, much like the one we developed, allows you to concentrate on providing quality and boating experiences by significantly reducing the time spent on manual booking, invoicing, and payments.

online booking system

The CaptainPanel Booking software allows customers to check the boat or yacht availability, choose their preferred schedule on the booking calendar, finalize bookings, and settle the payment online. The online booking and payment collection combined with professional invoicing makes the booking process a breeze. It does not only eradicate the risk of double bookings but it also cuts down time spent on answering customer queries during office hours and lessens missed opportunities while you’re out at sea.

9. Not giving importance to customer engagement

Lack of customer engagement can mean that you are missing a lot of opportunities to interact with your target market and build a relationship with your clientele.

social media

How to improve customer engagement? Keep in mind that highly engaged customers usually buy more products or avail more services and demonstrate loyalty. Social media platforms are best-suited for customer engagement so if you have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, take time to read and reply to comments and inquiries. The ability to discuss products/services and other concerns on social media can help customers with their purchasing decision.

10. Choosing the wrong team

Did you know that your choice of crew members can make or break your boat or yacht charter? Choosing the wrong crew can bring down customer satisfaction and lead to bad reviews.

How to choose the right crew? Choose those who have extensive sailing experiences but don’t forget to consider personal qualities such as friendliness, adaptability, and courteousness. Go for individuals who value teamwork, discipline, and good communication. Having a great team behind you can help boost customer satisfaction and increase your sales.

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