As regular Afloat.ie readers will know, in August, Carlingford Marina introduced a “Universal Basic Berthage” rate for visiting boats, doing away with the tried and tested price per metre rate used by the majority of marinas around the world. They charged a fixed rate of €25 per boat per night, no matter the size.
Berthage fees at marinas are normally calculated on a price per metre basis. The per metre rate is multiplied by the LOA (length overall) of the boat, and the resulting figure is the amount you pay to berth your boat.
For example, the nightly rate at Carlingford Marina is €3.50 per metre. So, for a 7-metre boat, the berthage cost would be €24.50 for the night, and for a 12-metre boat, that price would jump to €42.00 for the night
Carlingford Marina has compared the results of their experiment to the same period in 2017 and 2016 - and has also compared the results to the three previous months in the 2018 Summer Season; May, June and July.
The Marina was judging the success of this experiment on four main criteria; the number of visiting boats, the number of visitor nights (i.e. the number of people who visited on these boats and the length of time they stayed), revenue generated from visitor berthage, and how much these visitors contributed to the local economy. In these four criteria, the experiment was a success.
August 2018 – the month of the UBB experiment – had the most amount of visiting boats for the same period in the last three years. August 2016 brought 51 visiting boats, August 2017 brought 35, and August 2018 brought 54. Compared to the other months in this season, the UBB experiment was the second highest performing month, trailing only to July this year, where we experienced some of the finest sailing weather in recent memory.
In terms of the average number of nights these boats stayed and the length of time these people stayed in Carlingford, the UBB experiment was the front-runner of all months surveyed. This is a huge success for the experiment as the number of visitors is directly proportionate to the estimated expenditure in the local economy. The UBB experiment came up top again in this regard with the low estimate of expenditure being €15,895.00 for the month, and the high estimate being €30,345.00.
If Carlingford Marina had charged its normal visiting rate for August 2018, revenue generated from visitor berthage would have been €337.08 more than it was with the fixed rate of €25 per boat per night. That being said – they wouldn’t have gotten the same number of visitors if it was not for the experiment. It is likely that revenue generated for the month is equal to, or slightly better than it would have been for the month. This is a good result for the experiment – however, the marina is concerned that when the novelty of the experiment wears off and visitor numbers normalise, this loss in revenue could become too great to sustain.
“There are other encouraging factors that would combat and outweigh that loss in revenue – namely, customer satisfaction and the estimated expenditure in the local economy. If the customer is happy, we can hope and build towards regular, repeat business with them. We can hope that they tell their friends, and that word starts to spread to new, potential customers. And with an increased footfall; we can look to broaden our own offering and generate income in other ways – for example with a small chandlery, gift shop, bike hire, etc.” – Jonny Moneley, Marina Manager at Carlingford Marina.
Overall the marina deems the experiment to be a success, but it is difficult to tell how this pricing structure will benefit the marina in the long run. Never the less; the positive reaction they’ve had has spurred them on to extend the experiment, and run it again for the entire 2019 season.
“The sample we recovered in this experiment isn’t big enough to give us definitive answers to the questions we’ve been asking – but it does give us the confidence to take the experiment to the next level. If we are able to continue the success of the experiment in 2019, we will then consider adopting the new pricing structure for visitors permanently.” – Jonny Moneley, Marina Manager at Carlingford Marina.
Download the full report on the experiment below