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Cost of new customer leads? Hoping to grow bookings.

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Cost of new customer leads? Hoping to grow bookings.

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Old 12-04-2018, 08:44 AM
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Cool Cost of new customer leads? Hoping to grow bookings.

How much does everyone pay for new customer leads these days? Feel free to message me directly if you'd rather not share publicly but we're looking to grow our booking and curious what the best sources are for new traffic. Anyone getting traffic from hotels? Local papers? Online sources (Fishing Booker, Open Angler, etc.)? Social media ads?

Appreciate the help!
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Old 12-04-2018, 01:15 PM
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Also interested!
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Old 12-04-2018, 01:18 PM
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Didn't know lead sales were still a thing.

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Old 12-04-2018, 02:14 PM
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In my opinion: Post a lot here and several other more local forums with daily reports with pictures of the fish caught, social media like facebook, instagram, twitter etc.
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Old 12-04-2018, 02:23 PM
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Besides Social Media, your own website, I work in an industry that makes it difficult to keep business and pleasure separate so I just never did and never will sign up for Facebook.

I tried to book a specific boat in an island, googled and googled could not find a site so I had to book through fish booker whatever they charge they got that for free if the boat had an inexpensive site they would have got my trip for free.
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Old 12-04-2018, 05:21 PM
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I offered $100 a booking to a bunch of charters.

I got zero referrals from other charters and now send them a bunch of business.

We have been booked 100% since day one and booked out in 17 minutes (automatic online booking) this year.

First, be good at fishing and be nice to people, even other charter captains who nobody likes.

Give out free information on your website so people come back over and over to your page- we get 20,000 hits a month during our season and a lot of them are on our "Livebait 101" page and fishing report page.

Put up daily fishing reports- it only takes 10 minutes to update your webpage every day.

Put a photo up of every crew so they send the link to their buddies who then book you.

Do not try and be the cheapest, be the best, as you want the people willing to pay more for the best not the "how many fish per $$" customers who are never going to be happy.

Spend time sharing what you know on your local fishing forums.

Take the media fishing- we got a nice write up in Sportfishing Magazine for the cost of one seat on the boat.

https://www.sportfishingmag.com/offs...ific-northwest

Send out a year in review Christmas card every year.

Give your client's a t-shirt after every trip ($5 a shirt in bulk).

Put your calendar on your webpage so you don't have to answer 500 emails about what date is available.

Give your best clients the first shot at bookings- we fill our boat 100% with repeat customers and don't open bookings up to the general public anymore.

Corporate clients are nice to have- they don't care about $$ and how many fish they catch but rather how good of a time they have, plus they have the $$$ to book a bunch of trips.

SEO is very important, if you are not on the first page, get there.

Differentiate yourself from everyone else- better boat, better captain, different style of fishing, etc....

If you consistently outfish most of the other charters and make sure everyone has a good time, you will get busy real fast.

Put in the time- Even the guys who are not great fishermen and yell at people still seem to get busy just by staying in the business.

Captain Mike
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:39 PM
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Shake N Bake nailed it! I'm not a guide, but the guys that keep their fishing reports up to date, post on Facebook, and submit reports to the newspaper, and fishing blogs will stay busy. Get an online presence, because that creates a buzz. When I think of my vacation, I look for fishing reports for that area. The services that get to the top of the search get the most views, and seem authoritative.

For my current business, I put one of my staff on the job for social media, and she is killing it! Somebody who likes doing it will always have more excitement. My last business had an email list for weekly specials updates, and it really drove people to my restaurant. A weekly email report for fishermen will ALWAYS get read by your customers, because it is something they love.

The bonus here is that social media is WAY cheaper that ads in paper magazine or the local newspaper, and it is targeted.
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Old 12-04-2018, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Shake N Bake Sportfishing (formerly Colbachlaw) View Post
I offered $100 a booking to a bunch of charters.

I got zero referrals from other charters and now send them a bunch of business.

We have been booked 100% since day one and booked out in 17 minutes (automatic online booking) this year.

First, be good at fishing and be nice to people, even other charter captains who nobody likes.

Give out free information on your website so people come back over and over to your page- we get 20,000 hits a month during our season and a lot of them are on our "Livebait 101" page and fishing report page.

Put up daily fishing reports- it only takes 10 minutes to update your webpage every day.

Put a photo up of every crew so they send the link to their buddies who then book you.

Do not try and be the cheapest, be the best, as you want the people willing to pay more for the best not the "how many fish per $$" customers who are never going to be happy.

Spend time sharing what you know on your local fishing forums.

Take the media fishing- we got a nice write up in Sportfishing Magazine for the cost of one seat on the boat.

https://www.sportfishingmag.com/offs...ific-northwest

Send out a year in review Christmas card every year.

Give your client's a t-shirt after every trip ($5 a shirt in bulk).

Put your calendar on your webpage so you don't have to answer 500 emails about what date is available.

Give your best clients the first shot at bookings- we fill our boat 100% with repeat customers and don't open bookings up to the general public anymore.

Corporate clients are nice to have- they don't care about $$ and how many fish they catch but rather how good of a time they have, plus they have the $$$ to book a bunch of trips.

SEO is very important, if you are not on the first page, get there.

Differentiate yourself from everyone else- better boat, better captain, different style of fishing, etc....

If you consistently outfish most of the other charters and make sure everyone has a good time, you will get busy real fast.

Put in the time- Even the guys who are not great fishermen and yell at people still seem to get busy just by staying in the business.

Captain Mike
Generous advice here!
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Old 12-05-2018, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by VaporTrail1 View Post


Generous advice here!
x 100
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:35 PM
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We use these guys for automated online booking: https://www.planyo.com/

Dirt cheap at around $60 a month, total, and just for the months we book.

I spend lots of money on Amazon because they make it easy, so why not maker booking a charter easy?

My tecchie wife set up super easy online booking so she does not have to field 100 phone calls a week anymore.

It is slick enough that we no longer have our phone number on our webpage.

Booking went from 100 hours of work to very little.

Planyo sends out automated emails regarding fish processing, seasickness, etc..., and once the trip is a GO, they automatically bill the CC and transfer the $$ into our account.

When we get weathered out, they automatically refund the $$.

I have no idea why anyone would manually book their boat with all the cheap cloud based booking services.
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Old 12-07-2018, 07:11 AM
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Clear communication to build a good reputation.

Set expectations clearly prior to the trip. Explicitly state what will happen under any possible scenarios. Nothing worse for a service business than bad reviews, especially if they were avoidable.
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Old 12-07-2018, 07:49 AM
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"I have no idea why anyone would manually book their boat with all the cheap cloud based booking services."

In your market I see the advantage of cloud base. Your doing the same thing over and over day in and day out for a limited time and limited specie. And appear to be good at it!

I fish year around both inshore and offshore. Times change, specie change, inshore or offshore some days. Gotta play tides, weather patterns, water temps and a host of variables. If it were yes we are tuna fishing, leaving at 7 and will fish a full day and that's it I would go cloud based.

I have to deal with last minute changes on a constant basis. I always speak with my clients the night before the trip as well as when we take the bookings. I agree with the other things you have mentioned but every market is different. I never know what the client wants until I talk to them. I can be working the flats for a week loaded with redfish and trout to find out the guy is from Venice Louisiana and wants to snook fish. Gets a little more complicated when you have 20 different specie available.
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Old 12-07-2018, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Shake N Bake Sportfishing (formerly Colbachlaw) View Post
I have no idea why anyone would manually book their boat with all the cheap cloud based booking services.
It's all fun and great until the cloud crashes. Seen it happen to two different companies this year, and my friend that owns a hotel. They lost everything, there was nobody to call, and they had no idea if they had trips the next day. One of them completely went out of business because they didn't know what to do. The hotel got burned on trip advisor because they missed sooo many bookings and had people show up who they didn't know were booked. One of the ones that crashed was an online booking company that sold and they sold to their competitor for big bucks and the competitor just straight up closed the service down. Be careful....

But it's easier when it works...
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Old 12-08-2018, 10:20 AM
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When someone books, we get an email with all the details, so even if it crashes (hasn't yet) we know who is booked for that day and their contact info, so there is really no risk.

I can't imagine using a cloud booking system that did not provide me a "hard copy" of my bookings.

The flip side is that if my "hard copy" gets destroyed, I am a login away from getting it all back, plus I can access my bookings from any computer with connection to the internet.

If you are not backing up your bookings on the cloud, you are one virus, fire, theft, etc... away from losing all of your information.

We run the same trip every day, so it is pretty easy for us, although we fine tune boat call based on weather and tides.

Booking 1/2 day 3/4 day, etc... trips automatically would a whole different story...
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Shake N Bake Sportfishing (formerly Colbachlaw) View Post
When someone books, we get an email with all the details, so even if it crashes (hasn't yet) we know who is booked for that day and their contact info, so there is really no risk.

I can't imagine using a cloud booking system that did not provide me a "hard copy" of my bookings.

The flip side is that if my "hard copy" gets destroyed, I am a login away from getting it all back, plus I can access my bookings from any computer with connection to the internet.

If you are not backing up your bookings on the cloud, you are one virus, fire, theft, etc... away from losing all of your information.

We run the same trip every day, so it is pretty easy for us, although we fine tune boat call based on weather and tides.

Booking 1/2 day 3/4 day, etc... trips automatically would a whole different story...
If you have a hard copy you are good. I do hard copies but scan everything and back it up on "the cloud". Maybe one day i'll move to an online calendar...
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Old 12-11-2018, 07:24 PM
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SEO is important. I have an SEO business but haven't done any work in the charter niche. That said, nothing will make the phone ring faster than being ranked #1 on Google.<br /><br />PM me and I'll be happy to answer any SEO questions you may have for free.
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Old 12-11-2018, 08:10 PM
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I hate to toot my own horn, but I wrote the book on it. No, really - SEE HERE

I have grown guides to over 5 boats and gross over a million a year. I also work with guides with one boat that do as many trips as they possible can.

As owner of https://www.sfcdesigns.com/, I have seen it all over the years and I'll give you a bit of advice here but feel free to call me so I can elaborate.

My speciality is DIGITAL - Everyone is on their phones so it is important I capture the bookings for our guides while the customers are on mobile devices.

ONLINE REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING

The best bang for your buck will be to invest time in your Google My Business Listing. https://www.google.com/business/

If you don't have one, get one. It is FREE. Populate it accordingly and take your time to fill out each filed. Then start spreading the work to previous customers to get you reviews.

Use all the free resources first, such as Facebook Business, Instagram, Yelp, Trip Advisor, ReelReports, Cyberangler, Etc

Our clients certainly do not use the broker sites to give up a share of the revenue and reduce bottom lines. By building a foundation and reputation, booking out 1 boat is easy.

It is a great time to be a fishing guide.

Hope that helps.

Tight Lines
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Old 12-12-2018, 09:15 AM
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Depending on your location and your niche ranking on the first page of a Google search, or even being the first search result, shouldn't be too hard. I don't know what your budget is but spending a couple hundred bucks on a decent website, if you don't already have one, and then optimizing it for the search terms people are using when looking for charters in your area is probably your best bet. You can also put about as much as you want into Google ads to get immediate leads - this is basically what sites like Fishingbooker do but they leverage the scale of multiple charters in the same area giving potential customers a choice when they click on their ad.

As others have said, a blog that you're able to update as often as possible with fishing reports, tips, how-to guides, etc. will go a long way toward organic search results. But like I said initially it all depends on your market, who knows a decent web guy could spend a couple hours designing your site and writing content and in a month or two you're at the top of Google. All depends on what kind of online presence other guides in the market have.
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Old 12-12-2018, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Shake N Bake Sportfishing (formerly Colbachlaw) View Post
I offered $100 a booking to a bunch of charters.

I got zero referrals from other charters and now send them a bunch of business.

We have been booked 100% since day one and booked out in 17 minutes (automatic online booking) this year.

First, be good at fishing and be nice to people, even other charter captains who nobody likes.

Give out free information on your website so people come back over and over to your page- we get 20,000 hits a month during our season and a lot of them are on our "Livebait 101" page and fishing report page.

Put up daily fishing reports- it only takes 10 minutes to update your webpage every day.

Put a photo up of every crew so they send the link to their buddies who then book you.

Do not try and be the cheapest, be the best, as you want the people willing to pay more for the best not the "how many fish per $$" customers who are never going to be happy.

Spend time sharing what you know on your local fishing forums.

Take the media fishing- we got a nice write up in Sportfishing Magazine for the cost of one seat on the boat.

https://www.sportfishingmag.com/offs...ific-northwest

Send out a year in review Christmas card every year.

Give your client's a t-shirt after every trip ($5 a shirt in bulk).

Put your calendar on your webpage so you don't have to answer 500 emails about what date is available.

Give your best clients the first shot at bookings- we fill our boat 100% with repeat customers and don't open bookings up to the general public anymore.

Corporate clients are nice to have- they don't care about $$ and how many fish they catch but rather how good of a time they have, plus they have the $$$ to book a bunch of trips.

SEO is very important, if you are not on the first page, get there.

Differentiate yourself from everyone else- better boat, better captain, different style of fishing, etc....

If you consistently outfish most of the other charters and make sure everyone has a good time, you will get busy real fast.

Put in the time- Even the guys who are not great fishermen and yell at people still seem to get busy just by staying in the business.

Captain Mike
All great advice! I started as a part time running 2-5 passenger trips in my Parker 21se just trying to run 20 trips in a summer, I did 29 my first summer, then second year I had 77 percent repeat plus an additional 35 trips. I hired a second captain to run during the week for me. Now going on my 3rd year I am probably going to hit 75-100 bookings and will have the second captain be full time and have an additional guy to run. I am in Margate NJ and everything was word of mouth, I'm not the best fisherman by far, there are much better than me however I have a very good reputation with clients that want to fish with me because we have fun, I am personable, knowledgeable about my area and fun to be on the water with. My captains are both similar personalities and have great reviews when I do a follow up call to make sure they had a great time on the water. Good luck!
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Old 12-12-2018, 03:44 PM
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As a customer, I can tell you that catching fish is only a small part of the equation. The three best trips I've ever been on include a donut tarpon fishing in the everglades. You really have to be part local expert, part casting instructor and part butler, without letting on too much that you are either one.

Following up with customers is such a genius idea and so simple that I'm surprised so few do it. Of my top three trips ever, I still keep in contact with 2 of them (sadly, the other has passed away). But when it comes time to book, I have numbers saved in my phone because a good guide kept in contact AFTER the money changed hands.

Anything you do to differentiate yourself in a positive way will give you an advantage. After a few seasons you'll probably be busier than you imagined you would be.
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