As we start a new decade, we’re dusting off our crystal ball and making predictions. This means delving into the top trends and divining the new directions for traveling fishers next year.
Today’s traveling anglers are more aware of their options than ever before. And as much as they’re relying on smartphones, they’re also focusing on spending quality time with their friends and family, outside of the constraints of the virtual world. It’s one of the biggest contradictions of the modern world. And it’s one that we think will affect fishing charters considerably.
Here are the main directions we expect fishing customers to take in 2020. Take a look and make sure you’re entering the new year with a head start!
Most bookings will come through mobile phones, from people already in the destination
In our new digital age, fewer people are using marinas and booths to find charters, and more are researching online on review-based websites such as FishingBooker.
According to Google’s research, most people start researching their vacation three months before the trip. But, about half of them leave booking tours and experiences (such as fishing trips) until they get there. Then, they generally do this on their cell phone.
This matches FishingBooker’s data. More people are booking trips on cell phones every year. And last year, slightly more people purchased trips straight away when they were using a phone rather than computer.
There’s also been a rise in short-notice bookings over the last five years. The percentage of people booking trips for the following day went up by almost a third from 2015 to 2019. More customers than ever are looking for a fishing trip at the last minute. We’re expecting this trend to keep rising in 2020.
Avoid stressful last-minute bookings that you can’t accept by double checking your availability settings and calendar. This way, you can prevent requests that are simply too soon for you to prepare for properly.
It’s also more important than ever that your online presence is as active as what you’re doing on the ground. We think reviews and fishing reports are going to make a big difference for people who are booking online. Customers will be looking to this for proof that their charter is popular and going out regularly.
Videos will be key for decision making
Even though most people are organizing their fishing trips online now, they’re valuing the personal touch more than ever before. As more of the world becomes digital, glimpses of “real life” will engage customers the most.
There’s no better way of giving this to customers than with video. Photos tell customers what a captain and their boat look like, and the description tells them what they might target. But videos show what the experience will look like as a whole. They let customers sense and hear the experience, speaking to them on a different, much more personal, level.
On average, FishingBooker listings with at least one video are twice as likely to get booked as those without one. And we predict that videos are going to get even more important in 2020.
This trend isn’t just relevant to fishing guides – people are using video to help them choose experiences more than ever. Six times more, in fact!
The most successful videos on FishingBooker include a captain introducing themselves and walking customers through their fishing trips. To get on top of this trend, ask a friend to go out fishing with you and take some footage on their phone. Introduce yourself and take plenty of footage of reeling in fish and pulling them out of the water.
As well as adding an intro video to your listing, you can also add videos to fishing reports and review replies. This way, future customers can see what it looks like to fish with you, “meeting” you before you even get in touch.
Cashless payment will become a deciding factor
It looks like the days of predominantly paying with cash are numbered. Worldwide, non-cash transactions rose by 12% from 2016–2017, and they’re on track to increase even more steeply by 2022.
As people get used to buying things electronically, they expect to see this option everywhere – fishing charters included. After several years of transitioning away from cash, we predict that electronic payment will become the new norm for fishing trips in 2020.
FishingBooker launched Online Payments in mid-2019. Even though they’re still a new part of our product, we’ve already seen a rise in customers choosing to pay this way. A third of them opted to pay in full online when they had the option. We predict that this will grow to at least 50% by the end of next year.
We noticed that giving customers a variety of payment options increases their satisfaction significantly. And when it comes to attracting customers who don’t fish regularly, credit card or online payments are a huge benefit. Don’t miss out on adding these options to your listing!
Charters that focus on experiences for the whole family will be the most successful
Forbes recently reported that “the new definition of luxury is personalized adventures shared with family and friends.” Ask anyone who fishes, and they’ll say that reeling in fish together is just about the best way to spend quality time with your family. What’s interesting is that tourists are now looking for exactly this type of experience, and in increasing numbers.
Last year, listings focusing on a family-friendly experience got 50% more bookings than those that don’t. And the number of people looking for this type of fishing trip is growing. More people have been searching for “family fishing holidays” over the last five years, suggesting that trips focusing on all generations will keep getting the most bookings next year.
We also noticed that the percentage of people actually mentioning “fish” in their reviews has dropped. This adds up with what we’ve been hearing both from customers and our most successful captains – the definition of a “successful” fishing trip is changing.
Now, rather than focusing on catching a lot of fish, more customers are looking for a new take on their tourist destination. They’re hoping to enjoy their time with friends and family under the guidance of a knowledgeable, courteous guide. So, these are all parts of your service to build on in the upcoming year.
Conservation will be more important than ever
A recent study showed that well over half of global travelers prefer to spend their money with businesses that prioritize environmental sustainability. And, the number of people who are willing to pay more for this type of experience is on the rise.
While customer preferences are one thing, state and federal regulations are another. Last year, stricter regulations were placed on Chesapeake Bay’s Striped Bass population, and the previous year, Coho and Chinook Salmon were both added to NOAA’s overfished list for some areas.
With regulations getting stricter every year and maritime laws being enforced more effectively, fishing charters’ environmental impact is decreasing. This is coming at exactly the same time that customers are getting more educated about preserving the natural environment.
We expect that this will affect fishing guides in two ways. Firstly, there’s likely to be more emphasis on conservation-oriented practices such as carrying appropriate release devices on board. We’re also expecting to see more enforcement of area and species-specific fishing permits.
Secondly, we’re expecting to see more customers actively seeking out environmentally-oriented fishing experiences with guides who promote responsible fishing. This is something worth talking to customers about, highlighting the equipment you’re using and how this promotes fish survival.
When we add everything up, we have a good feeling about this new decade. Even though people are relying more on technology, they’re also actively seeking out personalized, human experiences. This is a huge opportunity for fishing guides, who offer some of the few genuine small-scale local experiences still available for world travelers.
So, hook up with a good booking platform, harness it to your advantage, show customers why you’re unique, and invite them to talk about it. We predict that this will be the secret to success in the 2020s!