Marine17 sets out boating agenda

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Andrew Chapman (left) with James Pearson from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Howard Glenn from the BIA at the opening of the Marine17 conference.
Andrew Chapman (left) with James Pearson from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Howard Glenn from the BIA at the opening of the Marine17 conference.

Opening conference sessions address the need to connect with future boaters.

The Marine17 industry conference opened on Sunday in Sydney with a series of presentations about how the boating industry must adapt to a changing marketplace.

The opening presentation from social researcher Mark McCrindle highlighted how quickly the world has changed over the past ten years and looked forward to some of the changing demographics and trends for the next ten years. He analysed the generational shift of the marketplace from boomers to Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z and outlined ways in which businesses should respond to these changes by becoming more responsive, innovative and collaborative.

James Pearson from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry gave an update on the economic outlook for the country over the next three years, highlighting what he termed the rise in “anti-business rhetoric” and the interference of short-term political interests in the economy. Areas of interest he highlighted for businesses included penalty rates, taxation, energy supply and trade barriers.

Jeff Hoedt, formerly of the US Coast Guard, gave an insight into the US boating market which, in 2016, comprised 74 million boaters and 22 million boats, both registered and unregistered. The US Coast Guard collects vast amounts of information about the boating market and its activities, to the extent of knowing not only what boats are sold and used but also how often and for how many hours. This includes unregistered craft such as paddle boards and kayaks. Hoedt also highlighted how the US market also generates huge revenues through taxes and levies to be spent on a range of public interest programs such as improving on-water safety.

Howard Glenn from the BIA followed with the Australian snapshot of the boating market which includes updated statistics on the marine industry and a state-by-state breakdown of boating registrations and licence holders – more detail in the next issue of Marine Business. He also introduced the new Advanced Skipper program – billed as the “biggest initiative by the BIA since boat shows” - which aims to connect with boaters by offering online tutorials to learn better boating skills in return for incentives and special offers. Although still being rolled out, the aim in the initial stages is to build a community of 10,000 boaters before growing it to include a substantial number of the 2 million boat licence holders in Australia.

Building better customers: Aaron Weiche gave an insight into how to handle those dreaded 1 star Google reviews.
Building better customers: Aaron Weiche gave an insight into how to handle those dreaded 1 star Google reviews.

The final session continued the theme of connecting with boaters, in this case the thorny issue of online reviews and customer feedback. Aaron Weiche gave a fast-paced presentation about Google reviews, star ratings and how to incorporate customer feedback into websites with an emphasis on engaging with customers in order to build better businesses – or better customers, as Weiche put it.

The presentation wrapped up Day 1 of the conference which also included break-out sessions across the associated streams of marinas, commercial vessels and boating safety, as well as an accompanying exhibition.

“We have had a great first day, with interesting speakers covering some interesting topics,” said Andrew Chapman, MIA president. “The most exciting part is the exhibition space, which has grown three times as large as previous years.”

The conference continues for two more days and concludes with a Sydney Harbour study tour on Wednesday.

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