A boater’s view on the successes and failures of a family fun day event… and how to make it a more successful event for your customers and marina
Each year we look forward to our marina’s family fun day event. The kids love all the extra fun activities, its a chance to mingle with more people at the marina and we even tend to plan our summer weekend trips around it.
From a marketing standpoint, holding customer gatherings like slipholder appreciation events or family fun days makes good business sense. They can be a great way to build loyalty and create memorable experiences for your customers. It’s an investment in your’s marina’s reputation, culture and overall atmosphere. The payoff is more loyal and long-lasting customers.
As much as I look forward to family fun day, I could not help but be disappointed with my marina’s event this year. Mostly as a marketer, but also as a boater client. The communication could have been better, activities could have been more inclusive and there were definitely some missed marketing opportunities.
Things Our Marina Did Well on Family Fun Day
Yes, there were some issues.. but let’s start with the good stuff… because overall our marina’s family fun day was a nice event.
For kids activities, our marina rented an extra large moon bounce and huge water slide. My two girls just loved the moon bounce (even the little one) and my older daughter was finally brave enough to go down the water slide (again and again…). This year they also set up a little toddler water slide that I really appreciated for our little one because it gave her a chance to cool off as well.
Our marina also does really well with food and refreshments. They served a generous hot buffet of food and had a canoe full of cold drinks. No complaints with the food (except that I may have eaten too much). Towards the end of the event a soft-serve ice-cream truck usually arrives offering a free cone for everyone (although this year we didn’t stay long enough for that).
The entire event was “hosted” by a DJ set up under a pavilion who played music and also had some games ready for kids that involved hula-hoops and water balloons, among other things.
The local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary was also on hand to provide boaters with safety information and free vessel safety checks (as they usually do at our marina events).
Things Our Marina Could Have Improved
So you must be thinking “Wow, she is picky… what more does she want?”
Well, for one… no one at the marina had any idea that it was family fun day until they stumbled upon it. There was NO communication at all.
In fact, it was only when I bumped into the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary that I figured out there was an event going on.
From a marketing and business standpoint I couldn’t believe that so much effort would be put into having an event and they wouldn’t promote it. There was no promotion or mention of it on Facebook and no email announcement to slipholders. There were also no flyers posted around the marina.
From a boater / client standpoint I was annoyed because we were getting ready to anchor out for the day and I had to change my plans at the last minute in order for my girls to attend and enjoy it. Like I said, most boaters at the marina plan their weekends around family fun day… so many people were either away for the weekend or not at their boat yet. Since there was no communication the turnout was very low… which really impacted the event fun for people that showed up.
When I mentioned the lack of communication to our marina manager (who appeared briefly during the event) she seemed surprised. The DJ proceeded to yell over the microphone to try to get the attention of boaters down at the docks to join in on all the fun.
We did some bouncing, sliding, eating and then left to go anchor out for the rest of the day.
Marketing Opportunities for Family Fun Day
Needless to say, the number one marketing activity for events is proper communication. If my marina had properly communicated about the event it would have been much more successful for both boaters and the marina.
A few weeks before the event there should have been flyers posted around the marina, Facebook and/or Twitter updates and emails sent to customers. Even better, an event calendar posted at the beginning of the season online and offline.
Some more marketing opportunities that could have made the event even better for my marina:
- Invites Guests – Encourage slipholders to invite guests on family fun day… what better way to showcase your marina to prospective new boaters? The few times I have invited guests on family fun day they were left with lasting impressions of a really great marina event.
- Add more inclusive activities – family fun day tends to be very centered around kids, which is nice, but more activities for a variety of age levels would be good. I overheard several people on my dock say (once they realized it was actually family fun day) that their kids were too old to enjoy it anymore. There should be more interactive event activities to make it enjoyable for your entire marina family.
- Staff event – Make family fun day a way to showcase your marina family. Marina and dock staff should be on-hand to meet and greet with boaters. It is also a chance to connect face-to-face and improve upon your overall customer service perception.
- Post-event promotions – take tons of photos at the event and share them on social media to spread the word about the fun event at your marina. They also make great promotions for your website.
My recommendation to marinas is to make the most of your events and your investment. Communicate, communicate, communicate some more. And then promote, promote, promote. You’ll have a better turnout and your customers will appreciate it more.
What do you do for marina family fun day events? Please share your ideas and marketing best practices in the comments below!
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