Online Payments – The Captain’s Perspective
Jun 16, 2020 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Earlier this year, we made it possible for customers to pay for their fishing trip right away, as soon as they reserve their trip. We got really excited about this. Now our customers have more options when paying for trips, and captains get more security against cancellations! 

But what do Online Payments actually look like in practice? Are they as good as they sound? I got in touch with some captains who’ve been accepting them throughout the last season to find out what it looks like on the ground. Here’s what I found out.

Man with gag grouper on a boat
Captain John Jackson with a nice Grouper

Making new connections – without losing the old

You may think that when you sign up for the online payment program, all your future bookings will be processed this way. Actually, that’s far from the truth. 

“It’s an additional tool, and it’s been great so far!” explained Captain Clyde Morgan from Florida Backcountry Fishing. He’s found that Online Payments have made fishing charters more accessible for people who haven’t fished before. So while he’s had a steady stream of bookings coming through the traditional model even after switching over, enabling Online Payments has boosted his bookings from first timers. 

Customers see the option to pay in full when they make their booking request. Then, the choice is 100% down to them and their preferences. Captains have reported that between a third and a quarter of their customers choose to pay the trip price in full. 

So, when you enable the feature, you open up your charter to that additional section of people who prefer to pay for everything before setting off on their vacation.

Captain John Jackson from Reel Easy Charters explained that some of his customers have appreciated being able to pay for everything back home, then coming on vacation and not having to worry about anything. “Some clients feel good about going ahead and paying,” he said. “There’s no surprises, they know there won’t be any additional fees. They know it’s paid for, and that sits well with them.”

Paying online also lets people purchase trips as gifts for other people. Anything from honeymoon trips to graduation presents – being able to pay for the trip on someone else’s behalf has delighted several of John’s customers this year.

Providing a great experience, from start to finish  

Both Clyde and John mentioned that Online Payments let them give their customers a more seamless charter fishing experience. It takes a step out of the traditional setup, so the captain can focus even more on providing an excellent experience. At the same time, the customer has one less thing to worry about. 

Knowing the payment’s sorted lets John and the captains he works with focus on building a bond with their customers. He describes his company’s mission as “Providing people with a pleasant experience, not just a fishing charter.” At the end of the trip, prepayment lets them build on keeping the experience enjoyable for everyone. “The captains don’t have to collect the money. They can focus on building relationships instead.

This has clear consequences for the customer. “People who pay online are more likely to review, and the reviews tend to be very positive,” says Clyde, who’s noticed that there’s a connection between the way they pay and the experience they take away. With reviews being a strong ranking factor and an important way to build your brand both on and off FishingBooker, this is a real benefit for his business. 

Man and woman smiling at sea
Captain Clyde Morgan

Turning “maybe” into “yes!”

“When a customer’s on the fence, when they know they can pay all at once it’s easier for them. It’s more of an impulse buy,” says Clyde. 

Once someone clicks on your FishingBooker page, they’re a potential customer. At this point, you want to make it as simple as possible for them to complete the process. With great reviews, sparkling photos, verification badges, and everything else on your listing, it’s a shame to lose a customer once they enter the checkout process. Having more payment options gives you an edge, increasing the chances of them going through with the booking. 

But it doesn’t stop there. “It makes it super easy for them to make the commitment,” Clyde continues. This is something we’ve noticed, too. Once they’ve booked the trip, customers who pay in full are also much more likely to go ahead with their booking. Losing the cost of an entire trip is significantly more concerning for most people than just losing their deposit, so we’ve seen cancellations drop significantly for trips that have been paid for in full.

With more visitors completing the checkout process, added to a fewer cancellations (and full protection even if they do happen), Online Payments gives you one extra tool for getting more people on your boat. 

Person paying online

NOTE: Online Payments are currently only available for captains in the United States. We’re currently working on making it available for other countries and will notify you when your charter becomes eligible.

What does this require from you?

Well, not as much as you might think. Captain Clyde is familiar with getting paid online and accepts Paypal bookings on his own website. He finds FishingBooker’s payment option similar in terms of how customers use it and how the fees work. When asked to summarize how it works, he puts it concisely: “The customer comes on the boat, you know it’s all sorted out, and FishingBooker sends the payment in a day or two.” 

And, according to Captain John, it was very simple to set up. “I just signed a couple of forms and then it was up and running. FishingBooker helped me with everything,” he said. And when I asked about how customers tip when they’ve already paid for the trip in full, he said that in general he hasn’t noticed a huge difference: “In general the overwhelming majority is aware that this is what to do, most of them tip appropriately.” “It’s easier to carry $100 than $900,” he points out.

Family group at the dock with fish
Some happy customers after a trip with Reel Easy Charters

If you’d like to know more about getting fully paid bookings through FishingBooker, get in touch. We provide individual support for every captain who’s considering the feature and would love to hear your thoughts. 

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