Running your own charter boat, fishing or yacht business? You’re living the dream of many as you spend your days by the water. But growing sustainably within the charter industry can be a unique challenge. How should you invest in marketing – and how do you identify promising areas for growth? Whether you offer charter fishing trips or private yacht cruises, here’s the guide to focusing your efforts and scaling up with smooth sailing.

 

What does it cost to grow and market a charter business?

Most charter businesses will set aside an ongoing budget to cover various areas that are key to growth: 

  • A professional website with 24/7 online reservation capabilities
  • An effective guest management solution
  • Reseller relationships with local travel agents and popular online travel agencies (OTAs) such as TripAdvisor, RedBalloon and Adrenaline
  • Social media and website updates to grow organic engagement with followers 
  • Marketing across channels such as social media, paid search, radio and print
  • Capital outlays in new guest experiences or infrastructure where relevant
  • Follow-up marketing after the guest experience, and more.

While every business is different, many operators allocate anywhere from 5-10% and upwards of revenue towards their growth and marketing strategies. As time goes on, it becomes easier to gauge and grow the best returns on investment.

 

The 5 steps to growing your charter business

Let’s dive straight in with 5 key steps to growth within the boat and fishing charter industry.

Optimize your charter business booking process

A first priority should be building strong foundations for a great customer experience, so you can capture every bit of growing interest. This means: 

  • Maintaining an engaging website with a ‘Book now’ button.
  • Using a software enabling live availability and online 24/7 bookings for direct customers and resellers to directly book boats or charters

Using a clear and effective guest management system. A quality system should support guest manifests and resource management as well as bookings for your charter business.

Build strong partnerships

Networks can be essential for growth, and few charter businesses go it alone these days. Outside of other charter or boat operators, some of the most valuable partnerships you can forge are with resellers: whether this be local travel agents, online travel agencies (OTAs) or both. If you want to connect with key resellers and offer live availability for 24/7 bookings, Rezdy Marketplace is ideal. 

Other partnerships might include working with restaurants, dive clubs, photographers and other local businesses, to drive cross-referrals and enhance your customer experiences.

Work to understand your target audience

Who would be most interested in your charter or boat services? Understanding where your business sits within the market is essential to successful growth. Make the most of your booking system analytics, particularly when integrated with Google Analytics, to identify your charter business referral sources and potential new markets. For example, if you’re noticing: 

  • More family bookings, you might create and market family-friendly packages around key holidays and events.
  • A growing local market, you might set up a loyalty program for repeat bookings.
  • Google Analytics tells you your customers’ interests include gourmet food, you might offer treats from local providers on your charters.

Customer reviews are another invaluable source of insights, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your customer journey can help you optimize the entire customer experience: from initial awareness, to online booking, to follow-up messaging.

Create and refine your charter business marketing campaigns

Charter companies use a raft of marketing measures, including:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) to encourage organic website traffic
  • Connecting with the OTAs that are widely popular, such as TripAdvisor and RedBalloon
  • Paid search or social media advertising, and more.

It’s wise to start small, set a marketing budget and continually refine your campaigns based on results. Be sure to build a marketing calendar of seasonal dates when charters might be important to your customers, so you can promote around high-demand dates such as Boxing Day, Easter, long weekends, public holidays and New Year’s Eve.

Expand your offerings

Equipped with insights from analytics and customer reviews, you can work on expanding charter packages and services. This could range from adjusting the length of your charter bookings based on feedback, all the way up to investing in new boats or equipment.

 

Charter business

Expansion ideas for different charter businesses

Party & private boat charters

  • Offer new or exclusive destinations
  • Add interest with local dining options, guides or DJs
  • Bring in extra revenue with drinks packages.

Yacht charters

  • Offer premium packages for private yacht cruises or extended trips 
  • Add luxurious touches for a dream yacht charter, such as a hot tub on deck, inflatable water slide or snorkeling gear
  • Offer transfers from customer accommodation if viable.

Fishing charters

  • Create local fishing guides online, to establish yourself as a fishing authority
  • Offer discounts and offers for repeat bookings 
  • Add a barbecue experience so guests can eat fresh fish aboard charter fishing trips
  • Add historical or cultural aspects to your charter boat fishing experiences. 

If you’re currently on the lookout for the best online booking and guest management system to support your growth, start a FREE 21-day trial with Rezdy or book a free demo today.

For more support and tips on how to increase sales in your travel business, follow the Rezdy’s blog.

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