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Old 07-28-2016, 10:30 PM   #21
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While you don't have a Dockwa exclusive, Jeffrey, you do now have a vested interest in their success. They're the only one using Active Captain on their web site. You are also quick to jump on their competition and you clearly have a close relationship with Dockwa, so while it's not Active Captain's system and that was a misrepresentation, it is the system Active Captain is promoting.

Now, I, as a boater, have the same issues with their competitors that I have with Dockwa. I will continue to book directly. I do think Dockwa's business model is unique and different but I'm not sure it's sustainable. It only works for them if marinas go for Dockwa Connect. I'm not sure how many marinas will go for $299 per month, even if the system is worth it. The larger marinas have systems. The smaller ones can't afford it. Only time will tell. Regardless of their rates, I don't think any of the other systems have been great success stories either from a profit standpoint.

I'll stick to booking directly until a system proves to provide me benefits beyond those of direct booking. I once used an online reservations provider for hotels but that was when they bought up enough space in prime hotels that they could actually offer lower prices than the hotel itself. They did that only in major cities. That framework doesn't exist today.

And as one does express concern over the profits going to the marina, there is one and only one way I, as a consumer, can insure that. That is by booking directly with them.

I've expressed my views and look forward to those of other boaters.
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:51 PM   #22
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I am not a consumer of online booking systems for marinas. Since AC have a relationship with dockwa, of course Jeffrey has a peripheral interest. No one should be surprised by that nor should it bother anyone. Jeffrey explained why he made the business decision he did. I certainly don't see that as slamming dockwa's competition, just explaining his rational.
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Old 07-29-2016, 12:27 AM   #23
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I would happily work with any other online reservation app developer as long as I didn't think their model was hurtful to boaters. Today there is only one like that. Perhaps there will be more. This is no different than the 200 apps that currently support the basic ActiveCaptain data. In fact, the API's being used by Dockwa are he same ones as Garmin.

If you have occasion to make a reservation for a slip this summer/fall, I'd suggest trying Dockwa and see directly what the experience is like. I remember watching Steve Jobs give a demo of selecting and purchasing a flight through an internet connection in 1994. I could hear people around me wondering who would ever do that online. Things change - there are some benefits and some things coming that have yet to roll out. It's worth trying...
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Old 07-29-2016, 12:50 AM   #24
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I would happily work with any other online reservation app developer as long as I didn't think their model was hurtful to boaters. Today there is only one like that. Perhaps there will be more. This is no different than the 200 apps that currently support the basic ActiveCaptain data. In fact, the API's being used by Dockwa are he same ones as Garmin.

If you have occasion to make a reservation for a slip this summer/fall, I'd suggest trying Dockwa and see directly what the experience is like. I remember watching Steve Jobs give a demo of selecting and purchasing a flight through an internet connection in 1994. I could hear people around me wondering who would ever do that online. Things change - there are some benefits and some things coming that have yet to roll out. It's worth trying...
I actually tried it a couple of hours ago just to see what the results would be.
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Old 07-29-2016, 07:26 AM   #25
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Traveling down the ICW and back this year for the first time I had the chance to use both Marina Life and Dockwa...they both worked very well. Marina Life had very good customer service, some decent discounts at marina's as well as cruising itinearies based on various miles/day to help plan. Dockwa was a simple reservation function but worked great..


I found them to be very helpful as I was able to make the reservations when it was convenient for me...many times at night as I was planing the next couple of legs. I also liked having an e-mail confirmation in hand.

However...in my opinion none of the on-line services have reached a point where they have a high enough percentage of the marina's in a location for any of them to be a resource you can really count on. Recently we were looking at Newport and one of the services had 1 partner marina and the other 3 (don't remember which) but none had the one I wanted (based on reading Active Captain reviews).

It will be interesting to see how they shake out and who ends up with the marina's ...for now its something I'll check when planning and any of the services that have Active Captain included will save me a step.
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Old 07-29-2016, 07:55 AM   #26
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However...in my opinion none of the on-line services have reached a point where they have a high enough percentage of the marina's in a location for any of them to be a resource you can really count on.
Bingo. You're right.

First, recognize that Dockwa has changed their entire business model and app within the last couple of months - so an experience months ago, isn't today's experience. It is completely free for a marina to get involved with them - if a stay completes, there is a credit card fee which the marina would have to pay themselves so it's basically free to use Dockwa. That will help other marinas to try it out. Our endorsement and Marina Minute article (our weekly newsletter to marinas) will help too:
The Marina Minute™: Slip Reservation Apps
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Old 07-29-2016, 09:08 AM   #27
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Bingo. You're right.

First, recognize that Dockwa has changed their entire business model and app within the last couple of months - so an experience months ago, isn't today's experience. It is completely free for a marina to get involved with them - if a stay completes, there is a credit card fee which the marina would have to pay themselves so it's basically free to use Dockwa. That will help other marinas to try it out. Our endorsement and Marina Minute earticle (our weekly newsletter to marinas) will help too:
The Marina Minute™: Slip Reservation Apps
In this less then perfect world NOBODY works for FREE

Not even Jeffrey........
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Old 07-29-2016, 09:57 AM   #28
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In this less then perfect world NOBODY works for FREE

Not even Jeffrey........

+1

Many of us volunteer our time for some of our pursuits, be they personal or professional. Sometimes we forget that some folks actually make a living doing things that others may only dabble in.

I have been a decent photographer in the past, but I am not a professional photographer and the pro's should be compensated for their work and their work protected from piracy.
I have towed stranded boaters in the past but I am not a professional rescue tower, those that are should be paid for their work.
I have been a decent musician in the past, but only occasionally have been paid for it. Those that do it for a living should be paid for their work and have their work protected.
I have developed websites and done some limited amount of coding way back in the day. It was all volunteer. Those that do this for a living shouldn't have to apologize for doing so.

Many folks get confused when our avocation overlaps with other's vocations. A professional photographer may love photography as I do. They may help other photographers and freely share information with them. However for the pro, that is their business. I don't have to buy their work, but shouldn't denigrate them for figuring out how to turn my hobby into a livelihood.
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Old 07-29-2016, 11:17 AM   #29
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In this less then perfect world NOBODY works for FREE

Not even Jeffrey........
That's just argumentative. 13,000 marinas are using ActiveCaptain for free. 1.5 million boaters are using ActiveCaptain for free. Our model, like Dockwa's, is that if the marina wants additional tools and help, they pay. The problems come when someone along the line is lifting part of the money without providing an equivalent service/benefit. For what it's worth, we get marinas asking to pay us more - first business I've ever created where that happens. Just got an email asking us this morning. THAT's the way business should work, isn't it?

So if I write a slip reservation system (would take about 1 week to get working and 1 month to get pretty nice), should I be able to lift 30% off every reservation that comes in? Do you think marinas would be writing to see if they could pay a higher percentage?

Of course not. That's a very short term view that will end in total failure as demonstrated by the 6 or so companies doing exactly that by trying to lift commissions.
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Old 07-29-2016, 12:05 PM   #30
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It will be interesting to see how and where this goes. For now, I'll stick with dealing directly with the marinas. Had a bad experience with one of the biggest online hotel booking companies. My credit card information was stolen / sold. Not a good way to start a business trip. Also, many of the marinas on the AICW that I use, now recognize me as a repeat customer and are willing to give me a preferred spot or an easy T head for an early departure the next day. Some how I don't see the personal touch conveying through online booking. Finally, I prefer to control the level of public information about where I am while boating. Can easily see how this information of where I've stayed and where I'm heading along with contact information, being sold.

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Old 07-29-2016, 12:35 PM   #31
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I just tried Dockwa and MarinaLife today. We plan to go to Mystic, Ct sometime in the next few weeks to use my free Brewers Preferred Card. So I entered Mystic into Dockwa and only found one marina close in and it wasn't Brewers.

Then I tried MarinaLife. Surprise, Brewers was listed and it was a partner marina. One other was listed that was inside. Lots of others were listed but they didn't have a reservation button, so those were just hopefuls.

I didn't make a reservation at Brewers as I suspect MarinaLife couldn't handle my free Brewers card.

So, it was interesting to try. There are definitely some differences between marina dock space booking and hotels and airlines: The booking commission for hotels and airlines is much less on both than the 30% that Jeff talks about, and I have a hard time believing that Brewers would pay 30% to MarinaLife for a dock reservation.


Virtually all airlines are represented in the major travel booking sites. For hotels it is more like marinas but with much more hotels represented. And if one hotel is listed on a travel site, it almost surely is listed on the others, unlike marinas, at least in my limited test.

But I like it and will try it again sometime when I am actually paying. It beats calling and never getting a call back from the marina, and it isn't because they had no space. Lazy and stupid is more like it!

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Old 07-29-2016, 01:11 PM   #32
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In this less then perfect world NOBODY works for FREE
...
One of my careers, one I can retire from after several decades of work, has NEVER, EVER paid me one penny. In fact, the work has COST me money.

Some people do work for free and I know quite a few people, besides me, who work for not one cent.

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Old 07-29-2016, 01:30 PM   #33
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I just went into the dockwa site and even if I didn't use it to actually make the reservation, it has excellent intel.

David let me know when you are coming to Mystic. Brewer's is right next to my marina. We can get together for a cold one!
If they put you on the back side of the marina in the normal transient slips you'll see my boat at Gwenmor.
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Old 07-29-2016, 01:33 PM   #34
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Small Test....Dockwa vs. Marinalife

Pretty much confirmed the reasons I don't and won't, for now, use either.

I started with our next 15 planned stops, mostly on Lake Superior, but a couple of Huron and Lake Michigan. Dockwa had 1 marina listed in the 15 places and it wasn't the one we've chosen. Marinalife had information on the majority of locations although many were listed as not booking through Marinalife. However, I found that listing them was still a very positive thing, even if you couldn't book through them. I did find it annoying to search for Duluth, MN on Dockwa and 18 marinas show up below, none of which are even on Lake Superior. Doing that same search on Marinalife, I was shown 3 marinas, one of which we will be using. Now, none of them accept bookings through Marinalife.

So, I decided to go easier on them both and try Chicago. Both have a nice listing, but the City of Chicago marinas are all managed by Westrec and do not take bookings through Marinalife. I'm sure this is due to the cost. They do take bookings through Dockwa. So, I chose the one where we do intend to dock for 21 days and then return for 8. I can't fault Dockwa on this but they simply couldn't come close to the rate we're getting. We're getting a monthly rate.

I then played around a bit with both on East Coast destinations. Found more marinas listed and participating. In some areas one had a good number and in other areas the other. I was annoyed by the fact that Dockwa doesn't list marinas other than those using them. That was a big negative in comparison to Marinalife. On the other hand, in certain areas, there were more marinas available for booking on Dockwa. Annapolis is a good example. Dockwa has 9 vs. 5 for Marinalife. So I tested three that they both had using future dates. Same prices on one. On one Dockwa was less. On the other Marinalife was less.

My conclusion. First, I'm not a good candidate for either, even if they were much further developed. However, neither is ready for prime time at this point, in my opinion. I'll compare to the hotel industry. Dockwa is a bit like Hotels.com was in their early days with good coverage but only certain areas. They're missing one thing though. Hotels.com had purchased blocks of space and could give you prices better than the hotel would. Now, both Dockwa and Hotels.com only had selected marinas/hotels in the areas.

Comparing to something like Travelocity, the big shortcoming of both becomes apparent. Marinalife can't be a go to site if they only have a modest percentage of marinas using them. Travelocity has nearly every hotel. How? Why? Well, because they came into an industry already set up to pay commissions. In hotels, they paid 10% to travel agents. So, paying 10% to Travelocity and others was nothing new. Hotels were use to working like that. Marinas are not and don't have a standard structure. Furthermore they sure can't afford to pay anything more than a reasonable broker rate of 10% or so. Now some marinas have made reasonable deals with Marinalife and have become "Partners". However, in Fort Lauderdale, you get only 4 marinas. On Dockwa, you only get 2 marinas and I would guess a "partner" to Marinalife isn't allowed to use Dockwa. The two marinas certainly are not prime Fort Lauderdale Marinas.

Ultimately Dockwa will end up with many more marinas than they have now, but I don't believe they will get much of a conversion rate from non-paying to paying. Marinas that see the value of the other services already have them. Other marinas aren't going to pay $299 per month. I don't believe Marinalife can ever become "the source" as too many marinas just are not going to pay.

As a marina, I might try the free version of Dockwa, but I'm going to get far greater benefit from Active Captain and my customer is use to calling. As a customer it just isn't worth it to me to use an online booking system that is as spotty in coverage as either Dockwa or Marinalife. Plus one other factor of the marina industry makes these models very difficult. That is all the existing relationships and discounts. There are AC discounts, Boat US discounts, volume discounts, time period discounts, mood of the dockmaster today discounts, off period discounts, reciprocal agreements. A lot of seat of the pants and many deals and not disciplined or consistent enough to fit a system.

I don't know how long Marinalife or Dockwa has been at it. I know Marinalife much longer. However, today, neither one has enough coverage to make them attractive to me. As a consumer, I'm not going to waste time using a system that only has a few marinas and certainly not one that doesn't even list the marinas. It forces me to go other ways. So why not just go the other way to start.
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Old 07-29-2016, 02:02 PM   #35
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On the upper Mississippi, Illinois rivers and Lake Michigan there are plenty of marinas, anchorages and free walls. I start planning in the early afternoon about where I'll end the day and if I want a slip I'll call the marina and reserve a slip or end tie. If I'am ending the day to far from a marina or I don't want a slip I plan for anchoring out. I'am in Chicago now and spent 3 nights in marinas and 3 anchored. I typically use charts and AC reviews plus Quimby's guide, I think Quimby's will eventually be replaced by my reliance on AC reviews. I used to rely solely on Quimby's up until about 2 years ago when I started using AC. In my cruising area I see no need for a slip reservation app for a boat of my size 38', larger 45' to over 100' boats a app may be beneficial if you don't have problems getting thru the locks and can maintain a schedule.


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Old 07-29-2016, 02:10 PM   #36
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One of my careers, one I can retire from after several decades of work, has NEVER, EVER paid me one penny. In fact, the work has COST me money.

Some people do work for free and I know quite a few people, besides me, who work for not one cent.

Later,
Dan

Not sure I understand you Dan. Are you conflating work with volunteering?
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Old 07-29-2016, 02:24 PM   #37
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The booking commission for hotels and airlines is much less on both than the 30% that Jeff talks about, and I have a hard time believing that Brewers would pay 30% to MarinaLife for a dock reservation.
From Quora:
Booking.com charges between 10-15% whereas expedia charges between 18-25%. Also, big hotel chains only offer 10-15% whereas standalone hotels offer 15-30% in terms of commissions.

Every Brewer yard is a partner of ActiveCaptain - fantastic destinations too, BTW. We consult with them. We're involved deeply with their management. They sent a photographer to take a picture of us pulling Red Head into Brewer Capri for their next newsletter (first time I ever docked the boat). Along with that, we're involved with the business side of hundreds of other marinas. Topping that is that nearly every one of these slip reservations companies wanted our API and endorsement and had conversations directly with me. Help me balance that experience against why you don't believe I know what the slip commission charges are?
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Old 07-29-2016, 04:31 PM   #38
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Not sure I understand you Dan. Are you conflating work with volunteering?
Is there really a difference?

I am working without pay yet I am an employee where I work and the work I do saves the organization lots of money.

Bottom line is that I work, spend a lot of time for the organization, and I don't get paid one penny.

Believe me, I am WORKING.

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Old 07-29-2016, 08:02 PM   #39
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Surely you are better off, and the marinas too, doing your own marina research and booking direct, rather than using an aggregation service which clips the ticket for a fee on the way through. The marina loses no commission, by receiving a full rate it can offer you better accommodation and service. It may even be in their interest to give you a better rate, somewhere between the reduced amount they get after the ticket gets clipped by an aggregator, and their rack rate, if you contact them direct.
I`ve found hotels respond favorably to direct booking, no reason marinas would not too, it`s in their financial interest to deal with customers without a "middle man".
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Old 07-29-2016, 09:26 PM   #40
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Used Dockwa once, for Cape Charles, It was great, everything smooth as silk. F
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