It’s Fishing, Not Catching! Setting Customer Expectations
Sep 22, 2020 | 7 minute read
Reading Time: 7 minutes

In today’s online world, setting realistic expectations for a fishing trip is challenging. We don’t need to tell you that you can never guarantee a trophy! But how do you convey this reality to your customers while also emphasizing the best part of fishing – the experience?

This month, we’re uncovering ways to reshape your customers’ expectations, so that they’re ready to enjoy the experience you work so hard to provide. 

Read on to find out:

Attract Attention While Setting Realistic Expectations

The “Instagram generation” is results-oriented, with leisure activities increasingly being planned around the anticipation of a show-stopping photo. When fishing is concerned, that means a prize catch. 

Tackle shops, magazines, and other fishing merchandise providers play into this. They focus on the brag-worthy part of fishing: that trophy fish. For them, the fish that comes along once in a lifetime sells. 

It’s a mistake for charter captains to go down the same route.

You don’t need to over-emphasize your catch to show why your trip is exceptional

The average FishingBooker user compares at least 3 listings before booking. Reviews, photos, and packages have the biggest influence on their choice, but they also pay attention to the description, captain’s bio, and amenities. 

After all this research, it’s understandable that people get disappointed when their trip doesn’t match what they’d imagined. They may have expected to target a particular species that lives offshore, when you only run inshore trips. Or, they based their decision on a certain service or amenity that actually is no longer in use.

Either way, making a first impression online that sticks – and that you can stick to – is vital for their return business. 

How to do this

Revisit your photos and videos

When customers book online, it’s all about the first impression. Part of that impression means making people look and think, “Hey, that could be me!” 

Yes, a grander Marlin you caught 15 years ago will certainly draw attention – and there’s nothing wrong with that! But what will draw custom – and the type of custom that you can work with on the boat – are photos that are up to date, and clearly show what customers can expect to do on your trips.

  • Add new photos to your listing gallery at least once a year to stay relevant to the experience you currently provide.
  • Mix up your top photos – include your best recent catches, but also show people having a great time catching fish of all shapes and sizes. 
  • Don’t forget to include up-to-date images of your boat and gear, too!

💡 Did you know you can rearrange your listing’s photos on the My Trips app? Move your most recent photos to the beginning to give them more visibility.

Pay attention to your listing details (because your customers will)

While your photos make the first impression, clients check the description, packagess, and amenities for the specific details. This information is often what persuades them to book, and can be a dealbreaker if it’s not up to date. After all, it’s almost impossible to provide a great experience to a customer who’s already upset about having been “mis-sold” a trip. 

From our experience, customers are most likely to report an unsatisfying trip when listings have outdated information about:

  • A working bathroom
  • Air conditioning
  • Live bait policies – if it’s included in the price, caught during the trip, or available for a fee
  • Who keeps the catch – the crew or the customer 
  • Additional fees such as fuel or tips
  • The details in the description

💡 Run an online health check every season to make sure all the elements of your website or listing are still accurate. This will mean you – and your customers – will start every trip with the right expectations.

Check your targeted species

The seasonality of the fish you select on your listing will show up at the bottom of the page in the fish calendar.

How often have you had a client arrive, determined they’re going to catch something you don’t even target? It’s possible that your online presence is actually behind this.

Your customers can see all the fish you select on your listing. They can even find you in search results based on a certain species! This can easily lead to a misunderstanding. So, we recommend you only include your most common target fish on your listing. That way, you’re less likely to get a customer who has totally unrealistic expectations. 

💡When was the last time you checked your trip descriptions? Add your most commonly targeted species, as well as the amount of time you usually fish, in each package. This will give you extra security and help your customers visualize their trip before they book with you. 

Share regular updates

While your listing or website gives a general impression of what you offer, sharing reports of your recent trips is the closest online advertising gets to talking to people walking by. Sharing your insights about the bad days as well as the good ones lets your customers see more than just the trophy catches. After all, who else but real fishermen can explain the real fishing experience?

💡 Use reports and social media to educate your customers, who maybe don’t know yet how unpredictable fishing can be.

Prepare Your Customers for a Great Day

It’s easy to make the connection between advertising online and getting new customers. But as more people are moving away from phone calls towards online messaging, actually making a connection with the customer can be different to what you’re used to.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t – or don’t need to – communicate before the trip. In fact, customers who have spoken to the captain before they fish are less likely to cancel and are more likely to leave a positive review. 

Why? Because talking to the customer lets you understand what they’re looking for and prepare them fully for the trip. 

Understand your customer

Many customers have an idea of what they expect from a trip. But often, they don’t think to say it until you ask them!

When you get a new booking, we recommend you ask a few simple questions, such as how much they’ve fished before and what they hope to do on the trip. This will help you learn what’s motivating them to go fishing and will help you plan a trip that will really suit your customer. 

💡If your customer has a misplaced idea of what they can catch on your trips, there’s no need to cancel. Instead, explain the reality. We’ve found that most people are open to listening to their guide’s authority once they understand the situation fully. 

Get them ready for the trip

Use Saved Responses to quickly share pre-prepared templates with new clients

Do you aim to put customers on fish, whatever the circumstances? Can’t guarantee a certain species but can guarantee hard work from you and your crew? The period between booking and fishing is the time to tell this to customers. Let them know the experience they can expect, not just the fish they’ll catch!

If customers don’t hear this from you, it’s hard for them not to come aboard with unrealistic expectations.

Let them know:

  • What to bring
  • How much time you’ll spend traveling and fishing
  • Where you’re planning to go
  • What fish are in the area
  • Any additional costs they should prepare for 

The added bonus of doing this online? It’s all in writing, so you and your customers can easily refer back to the expectations that were set and avoid any misunderstanding. 

💡 Saved Responses save time when setting expectations. Create a template to answer any frequently asked questions, and you’ll be able to add it to future messages in a couple of taps.

Focus on the Experience During the Trip

Once everything else is set up, it’s your time to shine. After all, the trip is the culmination of the expectations you’ve set. Now’s your chance to give your customers the best possible experience which, as they hopefully now know, is about far more than just catching fish. 

Catering to the short attention span

Every year, more young people are booking fishing trips online. This can be challenging for charter operators, as the next generation is used to constant stimulation from phones and media devices. 

Not every day is full of action, but you can still keep younger customers on their toes. And variety is one thing they can appreciate. This can take the form of anything from changing fishing spots to using different techniques throughout the day.

Do you have old hand lines lying around in storage? How about bringing them onto the boat? Mixing up fishing with bait and lures, standard tackle and handline, or even adding some crabbing or shrimping can all help to keep customers engaged even when the fishing is slow. 

The true experience of fishing is about more than catching that fish of a lifetime, but some of your customers don’t know that yet. Keeping your online presence accurate and up to date, fostering communication leading up to the trip, and delivering an experience that caters to your specific client will help you deliver the best experience possible. Whether they catch a trophy fish or not!

How do you make sure your customers come aboard with the right expectations? Let us know in the comments below!

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