A Blog To Help The Marina Owner Understand Online Marketing

Strengthening boater communications: How to effectively use direct text messaging

Jun 6, 2023 | Marina Management

text messaging for marinas

The Fourth of July is in three weeks and your marina is a frenzy. You’re hosting a regatta, a boater safety course, and while you’re at it – might as well throw a pile of 1632 doubloons in the surf and have a Fourth of July pirate treasure hunt. You’ve got unconfirmed reservations, the local fireworks show has changed times, and your dock hand needs to stop leaving raw squid in the staff fridge.  

You’ve got a heck of a lot of people to connect with in a timely fashion. 

Enter the simple low-budget power of the text message.

You might think, “Well, that’s too informal” or “That’s unprofessional.” It’s not. Boater loyalty is strengthened with direct marina manager-boater relationships and the communication channel is straightforward, transparent, and immediate.

Here are the types of direct messaging available to marina managers, why they’re integral to workflow, and how you can strengthen your communications and boater relationships with the ease of a simple text message.

What are the benefits of a direct message over phone or email?

  • Immediate, transparent communication.

Back to the Fourth of July scenario – you want to get a headcount of your regatta attendees and boater safety course. You need to know the logistics for staffing, stocking, and slip volume. Now, it wouldn’t be practical if your marina has 200 slips to sit down and text each boater – we’ll get into the methods. But you’ve constructed your message and know who you need to contact.

Most people carry their phones on them at all times. Open rates will be close to 100% versus the unpredictable nature of email. Response times are higher and within a few minutes.

  • Convenience for you and the boater

People prefer texting due to the casual ease: Read it – quick response – close the phone. “Yes, I’ll be there – arriving 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Do you have fuel?” There can be a mental resistance affiliated with phone and email – people procrastinate phone calls and many folks will purposefully ignore their emails for chunks of time as a peace-of-mind boundary. 

A multi-tasking manager can send a message, continue working, and respond as needed.

  • Low-budget or no-budget cost efficiency

Automated SMS services will send a mass direct message for you and offer affordable pricing plans with built-in options for bulk messaging. Alternatively, you have a wealth of social media options. The tools are easy, quick, and require minimal upkeep. Once you decide to initiate a specific direct messaging channel, it’s good to maintain that method as your go-to channel for conversation that requires timeliness. This will provide a consistent, familiar method of communicating for you and the boater.

text messaging for marinas

What kind of marina activities are conveyed best through a direct message?

  • Berth availability

You have a last-minute cancellation – it takes a sense of immediacy to notify clients that you have an open slip. On the opposite side, you have a temporary closure and need to notify tenants. Providing tenants with clear, considerate communication about a slip change or closure allows a boater to quickly make alternate arrangements without feeling inconvenienced.

  • Reservation confirmations and reminders

CRM software platforms like Dockwa have template messages to send out at an automated time. Whatever your method, providing friendly reminders about upcoming bookings helps the tenant stay prepared and helps you know any instructions or amenities (like stocking an Airbnb unit) you need to provide before arrival.

  • Emergencies

A direct message is the most effective way to alert tenants of impending severe weather, evacuation procedures, and area restrictions or closures.

  • General updates and event announcements

You’ve implemented two short-term rental units – now you need to advertise. A direct message is a savvy way to update boaters about amenities offered and changes in policies and services. The same need arises for an upcoming event: a text notification allows a tenant to RSVP, ask questions, and increase the likelihood they respond to your active approach versus a passive email.

The recurring theme is increased efficiency and improved operational effectiveness to devote time to other tasks.

The importance of consent and contact info

Before initiating any kind of direct messaging format, remember to acquire consent from each of your tenants – a mass email works fine for this. Two of any customer’s main concerns will always be security and privacy – provide them opt-out options (automated services include opt-out messages) and affirmation that their contact information is secure.

Before utilizing direct messaging, check your organized tenant data and make sure you have each of your clients’ updated contact information.

sunset at the marina

So, what are the best methods of direct messaging communication?

  • Free messaging and SMS apps

A myriad of SMS (short messaging service) apps have been designed explicitly to provide bulk messages for you, and they’ll send your designed messages at times based on your booking calendar or CRM software integration.

SMS offers the most sincere avenue to build your relationship from manager-client to a familiar shorthand with tenants. You’ll find boaters messaging you asking questions like, “What’s the water look like this weekend?” and “What do you recommend for bait in mid-June?” This relationship increases boater loyalty and builds word-of-mouth advertising, and you can set it up by integrating your client list and determining message presets.

Broader messaging app platforms like Whatsapp, Telegram, and WeChat offer an outlet to compartmentalize your manager-boater relationship and establish a streamlined channel designated for business communications. Each of these services provides the option to send multimedia, like attention-grabbing videos or upcoming events.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software

You could call this a subtle “arms race” among CRM softwares – the ability to carry the most efficient and functional manager-boater communications integrations.

CRM software platforms track client data like finances, boater preferences, and previous communication history. They also seamlessly integrate with email and text messaging services. Molo, Scribble, Dockwa, FareHarbor, and DockMaster are all popular CRM systems.

  • Social media channels

Some marinas choose to communicate exclusively through Facebook and Instagram. It’s a reliable method as people spend chunks of time camped on Facebook and Instagram. Utilizing Facebook Messenger and Instagram allows a manager to send events and marina updates on a personal level.

Before you select a tool, consider the preferences of your client base, and then consider your needs – what’s my budget? Do I want an immediate response from this person or am I simply sending them an event flyer? As always, ensure you have boater consent and data privacy boundaries within your communications.

Do you have any suggestions on where to start?


Consider the moving parts of running a marina day-to-day, and how communications tweaks could make everything run smoother. Integrating text and direct messaging enhances customer engagement, streamlines information dissemination, and builds a channel of trust and immediacy.

As your communications strengthen, so will the boater relationships. The people that once came to you only for your service might now consider you a friend.

Hammer and Nail Marketing


Hammer and Nail Marketing is a boutique marketing firm that helps small to mid-sized marinas get noticed by boaters. If you’d like to focus on operating your marina without the additional responsibility of marketing, get in touch with us.

We’re boaters ourselves from a background of operating a family-run marina. From a group of experts who know the water, let Hammer and Nail Marketing help you be the waterfront your local boaters see every time they cast off.


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