6 Marketing Strategies for Boat Tour & Yacht Charters Businesses
Marketing a boat tour or yacht charter business can be quite challenging, especially if you don’t know where to start.
With that being said, in this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know about the most effective marketing options for your boat charter business, as well as marketing best practices you should follow.
Without further ado, let us begin this guide right away.
Boat Tour and Yacht Charter as Service Businesses
The boat tour and/or yacht charter businesses can be categorized as a service business—that is, a business that is primarily selling a service rather than a product.
We can generally divide service businesses into two broad types:
- A service business that relies on equipment (movie theaters, vending machines, etc., including boat tour/yacht charter)
- A service business that relies on people, typically highly skilled or experienced people (attorneys, accountants, plumbing, etc.)
As we can see, a boat tour or yacht charter business can be considered an example of the former.
Before you start marketing the boat tour business as a service business, it’s important to understand that marketing a service business is not the same as marketing a physical product.
Thus, if you are already familiar with the concept of traditionally marketing a product, trying the same techniques and channels for marketing the yacht charter business might not give you the desired results.
Boat Tour and Charter Marketing: Key Principles
After considering the nuances surrounding the boat tour/charter business as a service business, it’s crucial to consider the following principles before developing a marketing plan for your boat charter business:
1. Clearly explain what you are offering
A very common mistake made by many service-based businesses is not to clearly define the service they provide.
In this case of boat charter or tour business:
- What type and size of boat (or boats) are you offering for rent? (Standard boat, yacht, fishing boat, etc.)
- Will you sell any product on top of your boat charter service?
- Will you offer a standard charter business? (Your client will be responsible for navigating the boat and provisioning)
- Will you offer a guided boat/yacht tour business? (You will offer a customized itinerary, a boat captain for navigating the boat, etc.)
- How many crews will be on the boat?
- Will you offer equipment rental? (For fishing tours)
- What destinations are you offering?
And so on.
Figure out as many details about your business, and then outline all of these details on your website and other marketing materials so your customers know exactly what to expect. A good practice is listing the products and services and—if possible—showing them what’s included visually in photos, images, infographics, and videos, among others.
2. Define and communicate your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
A key aspect of marketing any service business, not necessarily a boat tour business, is knowing what makes your service unique from all the other similar businesses in your area.
In short, what is your unique value proposition (UVP)?
If you haven’t yet identified your boat tour business’s UVP(s), you can start by asking what value you will add to your clients or customers who rent your boat/yacht or take your tour package.
Communicating your UVP is more than simply stating your deliverables. Yet, it’s about identifying and communicating what the deliverables do for your client rather than simply stating what the deliverables are.
For example, if you are offering a fishing tour service, rather than simply stating that you have the best fishing expert in the area guiding the tour (for example), communicate how this particular expert can help your clients get their best ever fishing experience or improve their personal fishing skills.
Focus on the values your clients can get from your business.
3. Niche first, the world rather
While it might be tempting to try as many clients from as many different user groups as possible, it’s important to embrace the fact that we can’t please everyone.
Instead, especially for service businesses, businesses that fill a specific niche and/or are highly specialized tend to grow faster and bigger.
This is because when dealing with service businesses, consumers tend to be more careful because services (including renting a yacht/boat) tend to have fewer protections than purchasing goods, so consumers are more likely to be extra careful in making sure that you are the right fit before making the purchase.
This is why businesses that specialize in a niche and become really good in this specific niche tend to have an easier time winning consumers’ trust and growing their businesses.
4. Keep the right balance between retaining existing clientele and acquiring new clients
Too many businesses make the mistake of putting too much focus on acquiring new customers. However, retaining existing customers can often be more cost-effective and profitable than new customer acquisition.
In the best possible scenario, you’d want to keep any existing client as long as possible, renting your boat over and over again, maximizing their customer lifetime value (CLV). Yet, as we know, it can be easier said than done.
The secret to maintaining customer retention is to be consistent in providing service excellence and (if any) delivering high-quality products. You must also have a comprehensive nurturing campaign with the focus of showing your customers that you listen to them and are willing to make improvements based on their suggestions.
Further below in this article, we will also share some actionable tips on how to maximize client retention.
5. Identify how you will compete against your competitors
Marketing is essentially about fighting your competitors to win your clients’ attention.
There may be a lot of other businesses and individuals in your area also offering boat/yacht charter or boat tour services, and you need to compete with them.
The thing is, as a service business, it’s typically more difficult for a yacht charter business to show its uniqueness and competitive advantage than with physical goods. This fact may also confuse your prospective clients in making their decision.
With that being said, you’ll need to put some extra effort into thinking about how you can protect your business against your competitors and win the competition: pay attention to your brand’s reputation (especially online presence.) Consider investing in anything proprietary (like a specifically designed specialty only you can offer), and carefully plan how you will scale your business.
Consider the fact that if your business isn’t growing, improving, and scaling, sooner or later your competitors will catch up.
Marketing a Boat Charter/Tour Business: Successful Methods You Can Try
As we’ve discussed in this post, marketing a boat tour or yacht charter as a service business can be challenging, and you may need to try different approaches than you would in marketing a traditional product business.
With that being said, here are some effective methods and channels you can try:
1. Decide on the right pricing strategy for your services
All good marketing strategies must start with the right pricing strategy: you must have a clear pricing strategy, and you must understand how you came to this specific price.
When pricing your charter or tour services, here are some important factors to consider:
- How much does it cost you to provide this service? Calculate the (lease) price of the boat/yacht, calculate your time in providing the service, and also the time of employees who help.
- How much are the competitors in your area charging for a similar service?
- What is the perceived value to your prospective clients? Trying to always lower your price to sell the most affordable service in the area sometimes is not a good idea. It’s okay to charge more if your clients perceive your service as more valuable.
- (If you have past clients) Have your past clients had any complaints about your service or price? If many customers complain that you are too expensive, consider lowering your price, and vice versa.
Obviously, service pricing is very objective, and deciding on the ‘right’ price can be quite challenging. It’s important to do your homework and consider all the different factors above while fine-tuning your pricing strategy.
2. Content marketing to establish credibility
Especially for service businesses—including boat charters or boat tours—it’s crucial to always remember that customers will only do business with companies they can trust.
Establishing credibility and a positive reputation should be an important part of your marketing strategy, and one of the most effective ways to do so is via content marketing.
The idea behind content marketing is to publish valuable, entertaining, and/or informative content rather than explicitly promote your boat tour business. This way, you are not pushing your promotional messages to your audience, so you’ll meet less resistance while generating interest in your boat tour or boat charter services.
Good content marketing helps your business to:
- Establish your expertise in the boat charter or boat tour business
- Educate your customers about the benefit of your boat charter or yacht tour business
- Drive traffic to your website and capture their information to generate leads
- Communicate your added value and earn your client’s trust
- Build long-term relationships with your customers
Simply put, content marketing is popular because it is effective, and you can implement it on your boat charter business by:
- Regularly publishing high-quality, useful, and valuable content on various channels in various forms:
- Blog posts
- Videos (i.e., on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
- White papers
- eBooks (or traditional books)
- Use SEO principles to boost your content’s presence in the search engines
- Perform keyword research to identify popular keywords your prospective clients will search for
- Find keywords with high enough monthly search volume
- Keywords must be relevant to your boat charter business’s mission and goals. Not all keywords that are popular with your target audience will be relevant to your business
- Based on your available time and resources, decide whether the competition for the target keyword is manageable. Fighting over keywords that are popular but are overly competitive might not be worth it
- Perform keyword research to identify popular keywords your prospective clients will search for
- Use the target keyword(s) sparingly and naturally throughout the content.
- Optimize the technical factors of your page (mobile-friendliness, page speed, etc.)
- Optimize the content for conversion to capture contact information (lead generation) and encourage them to book your service right away via online booking (more on this later)
When it comes to content marketing, consistency is key. While diversity is important, and you can try publishing content on various channels and in various formats, it’s best to focus on just 1 or 2 channels first while focusing on consistently publishing high-quality content on these channels.
3. Enable and optimize 24/7 online booking
In this digital age, and especially after the global pandemic situation throughout 2020 and 2021, more and more customers simply expect the convenience of 24/7 online booking. They’d like the versatility to be able to book your boat charter and tour service from any time, anywhere, and with any device (including and especially with mobile devices.)
Reports have also suggested that a significant number of consumers now book their appointments and services outside business hours, for example, after they’ve arrived home after work. Meaning, if you don’t have a 24/7 booking feature available, you’re going to miss out on these potential clients.
Consider investing in professional online booking software to facilitate a 24/7 online boat tour reservation function on your website and social profiles. Winning your prospective client’s attention is already challenging enough, and the last thing you’d want is for them to book with your competitors instead because they are not available to book online.
4. Maximize client retention with nurturing campaigns
Above, we have discussed the importance of keeping the right balance of efforts between acquiring new clients and retaining existing ones and how in many cases, the latter can be much more profitable.
The effort to prioritize and retain existing clients must start as early as possible in the client’s lifetime, and here is a step-by-step how:
- Step 1: educate and inform so that your clients know about all the services and products you are offering, and your capabilities
- Step 2: continue improving your services, delivery, onboarding process, and follow-ups. You have to show your clients that you are continuously improving. Collect and listen to clients’ feedback, and make improvements accordingly
- Step 3: nurture your clients, especially via email newsletters and social media. Check-in regularly and post updates, and share useful information via email newsletter. Encourage conversations on social media by asking them how things are going.
- Step 4: keep delighting them by sending thank-you notes, birthday gifts, and celebrating milestones. Invest your time—even if it’s just a few minutes— to send simple notes of encouragement.
5. Effective social media and influencer marketing
It’s quite obvious that we should market any business on various social networks in this social media age.
The question is, how to get our voice heard amidst all the noises and saturation?
First, it’s important to choose the social networks you’re going to focus your efforts on. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube are the most popular social platforms at the moment, each with different types of users.
Identify who your target clientele is, and figure out the social platform(s) they frequent.
We basically have three main options when it comes to social media marketing:
- Organic: building your own followers and regularly posting your content. This is the most affordable option and can be totally free. However, building an organic social media presence can take a long time.
- Paid: using various paid advertising options (i.e., Facebook ads, Instagram ads, etc.) to promote your business. These paid options virtually guarantee short-term results, but they can be very expensive if you are not careful.
- Influencer: partnering with the right influencers so they can help promote your boat charter business to their followers. We’ll discuss more of influencer marketing below.
Effective influencer marketing for boat charter businesses
Influencer marketing is popular at the moment for one simple reason: it’s highly effective. Today’s consumers simply trust recommendations from influencers more than traditional advertising, so you should leverage this to your advantage.
Partnering with the right influencers can help you in selling experiences (i.e. tour destinations, yachting experiences) to your target audience while also building authentic relationships, and positioning themselves as a trusted resource for your target audience.
So, how can you leverage influencer marketing to promote your boat tour or yacht charter business?
Above anything else, the most important factor is to identify which influencer(s) to work with, and you have several main options:
- Industry experts and thought leaders: who are the relevant names that people trust in your area when it comes to boat tour destinations, fishing, yachting, and other related services in the industry. These could be micro- or macro-influencers (including celebrities), but micro-influencers tend to be more cost-effective at the moment.
- Celebrities: if you do have the budget, and if there is any relevant celebrity in your area you can work with (that makes sense for the boat charter niche), then they can be very effective in amplifying your reach and generating fast results. Keep in mind, however, that they can be very expensive.
- Nano influencers: we can define nano influencers as those with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, and leveraging nano influencers can be very effective for boat tours and charter businesses that rely on location. Find nano influencers with dedicated local followings and partner with them.
- Clients and employees with a strong following: probably there are employees or even clients with a strong enough following in your boat charter company. Encourage and probably incentivize them so they can help grow your company’s reach.
6. Referral program that works
Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing, even now in 2022.
The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is to turn satisfied customers into advocates: those who willingly recommend your business and product/service to their friends, family, and followers.
A referral campaign essentially encourages artificial advocacy by offering incentives for your customers (or even non-customers) to promote your business.
You can either build a fully-fledged referral program with structured incentives, or you can start by sending gifts and referral cards to your best clients once or twice every year.
Besides your customers/clients and prospective clients, you may also consider seeking referrals from:
- Non-profit organizations in your area that serve your target audience
- Other local businesses in the area that are not in direct competition with your boat charter business but are targeting similar audiences.
The secret to a successful referral campaign is your reward or incentive: offering too little, and you may not be able to generate enough interest. On the other hand, offering too valuable of a reward may not only hurt your profitability, but may attract low-quality referral marketers who’d only want the reward rather than building authentic relationships.
So, take some time to figure out what reward is appropriate for a referral: commissions? Discounts? Free tour? Whatever your reward is, make sure it’s relevant and valuable for your target audience, so they’ll be attracted to participate.
If you own a boat/yacht charter or boat tour business and have been struggling to attract new clients (or retain existing ones,) we hope this list of marketing methods we have shared above can help you to improve your marketing efforts and grow your business.
While marketing a boat charter business can be challenging, it’s definitely possible to have a great marketing strategy as long as you know what you’re doing.
Above anything else, the secret to successful marketing—not necessarily for a boat charter business—is about understanding your target clientele. The better you can communicate how your business caters to your customers’ needs and answers their problems, the more likely you can win their attention and convince them to book your service.