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2016 November December Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry

MARKETING Connecting

MARKETING Connecting boaters with marinas – the integrated approach When Joy McPeters – an avid boater - founded Marinalife nearly 17 years ago, her mission was to connect boaters with marinas. After years of building, honing, revising and perfecting the Marinalife formula, amassing a database of over 9,000 marinas and helping tens of thousands of boaters to make the very best of their boating experience, the Marinalife team believes it’s time for a new website and more comprehensive services. “Our main vision stays the same – empowering boaters,” McPeters explains. “But we took a step back and thought about all of the tools and resources a boater would ever need to plan an overnight voyage, to find the best fuel prices, to make online slip reservations.” In early 2017, a bigger and better will go live, offering boaters better search facilities and a wealth of extra information, and giving partner marinas unique marketing opportunities. “Google assumes you don’t know where you want to go and this is the model we’re adopting,” she reveals. “We’re offering information, reviews, boater stories and itinerary samples before it comes to making a reservation. We’re looking at it as a full circle and adding a concierge service for anything people can’t find.” Key to the website revision is enhancing the search bar, making it very comprehensive and thus able to bring in better results. “You can refine your search very specifically and access a ‘whole experience’, learn about everything that’s going on. It’s going to be a travel service.” Like many changes and improvements in the company’s 17-year journey, the new thinking is customer led. Marinalife frequently researches and uncovers the information boaters care about and want to find. Top of the list are the ‘Popular Destinations’ – detailed information in an A-Z of specific locations in the USA, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean – and the ‘Cruising with Members’ reviews. “These reviews are direct feedback as they’re written by actual boaters,” McPeters asserts, “and they’re extremely popular as are the destination articles. But images are really key. We’re going to include more video footage – for individual marinas 46 - November/December 2016

MARKETING and for destinations in general – to significantly upgrade the visual aspect of the website.” The extra coverage will impact positively on listed marinas. “We have partner marinas and will continue to expand on these. We really see ourselves as an extension to a marina as we can help to bridge gaps whether for annual, seasonal or transient slip occupancy,” she continues, moving on to outline the new online opportunities. “We’ve always had an integrated approach for our advertising packages when it comes to Marinalife magazine and the website but we are now looking at digital-only packages as well. These will be really robust and cover a number of unique offerings – sponsoring destination pages in video or banner ad format for example. We will have a specific area on our home page for video promotions and companies will be able to upload 15 second adverts. Companies will also be able to sponsor cruise itineraries.” A fluid format is envisioned. “We want advertising that looks like it’s part of the site, that integrates really well with the page. And we’re looking at more sponsored content and advertorials.” Covering all opportunities, Marinalife has an active blog and growing social media community, and McPeters reports consistent growth with the quarterly Marinalife lifestyle Joy McPeters, founder of Marinalife, is poised to relaunch the website to offer boaters and marinas a more comprehensive resource. magazine.“We’re continuing to work to give boaters the best possible resource and help marinas, not only fill slips, but sell the boating experience. An integrated approach seems to make most sense.” - November/December 2016 47

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