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Identifying new marina markets strategically

By Tom Mukamal

Adding a new or existing marina to a branded portfolio requires months, if not years, of extensive analysis to determine if the destination is up to par with today’s industry standard of a luxury yachting facility or if it has certain unique attributes, which, over time, will attract high-end boaters. Yacht owners, captains and crew members associate major marina company names with top-quality services and venues, making due diligence on the destination a major factor. With this in mind, there are important questions you will want answered prior to welcoming a new marina to your prestigious collection.

What are industry influencers saying?

A great way to identify a new destination is through market research, and what better research is there than going straight to the source – the captains and crews. Engaging with this audience is key, as they often determine where the vessels will be traveling, making their feedback the most important of all. Another group to engage are the charter companies, as they are a direct resource for understanding where today’s yacht owners and charter guests yearn for travel. Building a great rapport with some of the more influential companies can put you ahead of the curve with insightful information.

Questionnaires have also proven to be successful in gathering destination research. When attending major industry seminars and trade shows, take advantage of the influencers in the audience. Their feedback on where the market is heading can provide unique insight that you might not have considered before.

Are there existing amenities/services?

Once you’ve gathered initial feedback, it’s imperative to determine if there are existing amenities and services available to the yacht owners, captains and crew alike. Today’s owner is looking for more than just a marina facility – many are attracted to mixed-use resort projects that include a marina, such as Blue Haven Resort & Marina (Turks & Caicos) or Red Frog Island Beach Resort & Marina (Panama). Additionally, access to unique excursions and adventure tours, multiple shopping and unique culinary experiences, destination events and more, appeal to the entertainment desires of your guests. The captain and crew also look for this and other features beyond the lifestyle. A Captain’s Lounge, customized crew events, on-site yacht facilities such as provisioners, repair shops or mechanics, and ultimately the ability to accommodate draft and power requirements can sway this community.

Important factors to consider when speaking to stakeholders – the political climate, availability of labor, availability and costs of goods and services, airlift, customs and immigration, and of course, the paramount issue of security.

Is the marina located within the natural cruising pattern?

While a mix of marina destinations gives travelers a range of options, you should also strategically stay within the natural cruising pattern. This ensures your marina is always top of mind during high and low seasons, and helps in marketing the destination. Vessels are also more likely to visit more than one marina under the same marina management name if they fall under the same cruising route. IGY has welcomed 42 percent of the world’s leading megayachts in the past five years, and we attribute this to targeting destinations that fall in the natural cruising pattern.

Tom Mukamal serves as CEO of IGY Marinas. For more information on IGY Marinas or its collection of marina destinations, visit www.IGYMarinas.com.

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