Top Tips For Managing Unusual Situations
Mar 3, 2020 | 6 minute read Comments
Reading Time: 6 minutes

You’ve done it. You perfected your offer, got it looking great online, and got a booking! But something’s not right – the perfect trip you were planning just isn’t turning out the way you hoped. 

After speaking with thousands of captains and helping to handle hundreds of situations, here’s our advice on how to keep your cool and stay afloat. 

Man standing on a boat in a lake happy and holding fish

Setting Expectations Right? It’s All in the Packages

When people book online, they often don’t talk to the captain before choosing their trip. So it’s vital that each of your packages says what the experience involves and what type of customer it’s best for. Would you recommend that a beginner takes an overnight Swordfishing trip? It may seem obvious, but you’ll be amazed at the number of awkward situations that could be avoided just by setting the right expectations to begin with.

As well as outlining who each trip is suited to, be clear about how long customers usually spend traveling to the fishing spots and what they’re most likely to catch. Set the expectations correctly, and you’re ready to delight rather than disappoint. 

There’s more to this than just dissuading beginners from choosing a package that isn’t appropriate to them. It can also help you upsell your more adventurous trips to the anglers that are ready for the challenge.

Tip: If your listing has been optimized and you’re having trouble updating your trip descriptions, send us the information you’d like to add. Then we’ll update them for you. 

Trip description that states it is suitable for children
Explain which type of angler each of your trips caters to and ensure your customers will arrive with the right expectations.

The Trick to Avoiding Unpleasant Surprises at the Dock

The more information you can get about your customer before the trip, the better. But how do you do this if they’ve booked online rather than over the phone or in person? We recommend you message your client with a set of questions as soon as they book, so you’re both on the same page from the get go.

This will let you prepare your equipment and route appropriately for the group. It also shows the customer that you want to take their needs into account, giving them a great impression right from the start. Then, you’ll be able to spot and adjust any unrealistic expectations before you get out on the water. You may even be able to encourage the customer to book a more appropriate trip while you’re at it! 

Keep a template in a note on your phone to save time writing the questions and to make sure you don’t forget anything. Here’s an example you can copy and adapt to suit your own business:

Hi, thanks for booking with us! Please let me know the following so I can prepare for your trip:

  • Have you and the others in your group fished before? How often do you go fishing?
  • What’s the occasion? What are you hoping to get out of your trip? Do you want to relax or do you want to catch a lot of fish?
  • Are there any children in your group? What ages?
  • Is there anyone in your group with physical disabilities? Are there any elderly people in your group who need assistance or additional seating?
  • Are you planning on paying with cash or credit card?
Two phone simulating an instant messaging conversation on FishingBooker

What You See Is What You Get… Or Is It?

When your entire business is condensed onto a single web page, you need to make every word count. You also need to highlight any important information, limits, or extra charges. Describe anything that could stop someone from coming aboard or that would make the trip more expensive than the package price. 

Do you only accept kids over a certain age? Is there a weight limit on your boat? Do you limit the number of people who can take fly fishing trips? Having to refuse a customer on the dock is a bad experience for you, the customer, and anyone else involved. But if these details are in your description and in any appropriate packages, you won’t need to worry. 

If your content’s locked, just send us a change request and we’ll add or change anything you like.

Sample listing description that highlights the boat's weight limit
Your listing’s main description is the perfect place to add details about specific limits on your trips

Be Consistent

It’s a shock when a customer comes to the dock and you realize they’re totally unsuitable for the trip they’ve booked. But it’s just as bad for customers to see the boat and gear isn’t what they were expecting. You don’t want them to turn up only to find out that the boat they booked isn’t the one that’s waiting for them or that they won’t be doing the type of fishing they were expecting. 

Do you offer all the fishing techniques you marked on the listing? Can customers reasonably expect to catch all the fish that are tagged? Check your listing to make sure it’s advertising your service properly. 

This also applies if you’ve upgraded your offer. If your boat isn’t what the customer thought they booked, they’ll immediately get the impression that your service isn’t what you say it is. So as soon as anything about your offer changes, update your listing with the new details. 

Don’t Get Left High and Dry

As much as the experience makes or breaks the trip, you can’t escape the fact that you’re running a business. And having trouble with payment is any business person’s nightmare. So, we recommend you collect the remaining balance the day before the trip or at least before the trip starts.

We can’t charge the customer for more than the deposit amount unless you’ve enabled Online Payments*. So this is why we recommend you get everything sorted out before setting off. It’s your best safeguard against getting left empty handed.

*Currently only available in the United States.

Boats at the dock in a large marina
Remember to collect the remaining balance at the dock before the trip

It’s All Down to Communication

If you’re worried about something a customer said or did, or if something happened on the trip that affected the overall experience, let us know. Our Customer Happiness Team focuses on making trips run smoothly, and they’re available to help if you have any concerns. 

In order for us to be able to help you, you need to be transparent with us and the customer. Try to keep communication in written form when possible, so if any issues come up, you’ll have written proof of your arrangement. Don’t wait for a customer to leave a review before you reach out! We’ll be more informed and able to take action faster if you let us know right away. 

If someone does anything illegal and/or threatens your safety, please contact your local law enforcement as well as keeping us informed.

Sometimes a customer may not like your trip, even if you tried hard for them. If they’re not satisfied and leave a bad review, respond to it in a polite and professional manner. This way, your future customers can see your point of view and understand that you’re reasonable and polite, whatever the situation.

And remember – even if the fish aren’t biting, you can still turn the experience around for your customer. Patience, stories, and accommodating individual guests’ needs are three of the top things that come up in positive reviews. Take the time to talk with your guests, and a bad day on the water shouldn’t stop them from leaving satisfied and recommending your service.

Set the right expectations and find out what your customer’s looking for, and you’re off to a good start. Then, if things go sideways, keep us in the loop and we’ll help you get back on track. Good luck!

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Comments (2)
  • Gary S.

    Sep 30, 2019

    Great ideas-thanks for posting. One specific item you did not mention is getting pertinent medical information from your guests. If someone is diabetic, has seizures, heart problems or high blood pressure, the captain needs to know this information ahead of time or there may be dire consequences. Also, if a guest is under the care of a physician and takes prescription medication, they need to bring the meds in the original bottle with them. What if there is a problem out on the water and the person cannot get to their meds? Now you have a medivac situation. If boarded by the USCG and the meds are not in their original prescription bottle, your vessel may be confiscated for drug trafficing. So, getting this medical information before leaving the dock is critical.

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      Oct 1, 2019

      Gary, thanks for sharing. This is very useful advice!

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