Marina group trials smart marina technology

UK marina group, MDL Marinas has partnered with marine digitalisation firm Falco and its marina management software provider, Havenstar, to trial smart marina technology at its Queen Anne’s Battery marina.

MDL is running a pilot programme using Falco’s Smart Marina wireless technology to detect occupancy in real time on the visitor pontoon at its Plymouth based marina. MDL says this new digital tool will enable it to automate parts of its operational processes, maximising availability of visitor berthing and freeing up the marina teams to spend more time on the pontoons, meeting and greeting customers, to improve the quality of the marina experience for berth holders and customers alike.

“Currently, our teams have to physically walk along the pontoons to check if a boat has left the marina, so it can take time to detect if a berth is available for visitors,” says Tim Mayer, MDL’s sales and marketing director. 

“As part of our digital development, this smart new initiative provides an avenue for marina managers to improve a customer’s experience at their marina. With staff having more time available to welcome customers rather than completing checks, they’ll be able to deliver a higher level of customer service, tailored appropriately for how individuals use their boat.

“The real time data on boat movements will also provide us with a more accurate number of spaces available for visiting yachts at any one time.

MDL berth holders can already book visitor berthing at other MDL marinas using the bespoke online booking system, launched last year, and are rewarded for doing so with Otium points through our loyalty programme.

“This new digital interface enables visitors, as well as berth holders, to confidently book in advance online and enjoy exploring our network of marinas set in 18 of the most stunning waterside locations in the UK, accruing Otium points that can then be used to save on further visitor nights.”

As part of the trial to connect the marina office, staff and boaters digitally, a small wireless sensor has been installed on each of the visitor berths at Queen Anne’s Battery marina to detect boat movements. Via the Falco data gathering interface, this occupancy information will be sent to the Havenstar marina management system so the marina team is fully aware of berth availability and can allocate visitor berthing accordingly. 

The interconnection between Falco’s smart marina solution with MDL’s marina management software also enables a request to be sent to a berth holder asking them to identify how long they will be away for once they’ve departed from their berth, said to further enhancing the efficiency of marina space for visiting yachts and motorboats, and ensuring the berth is clear again when a berth holder returns. 

With the trial now underway, MDL’s Queen Anne’s Battery Marina is the first marina in the UK to trial Falco’s wireless data gathering solution. Over 2000 have been deployed across marinas in France with encouraging results. 

Elsa Nicol, CEO Falco, explains: “Our teams have worked hard over the years to develop a sensor solution that is reliable, scalable, and dedicated to marina professionals. We are thrilled that MDL is considering Falco’s smart marina solution. We share a vision that operational efficiencies result in the best customer experience for boaters.” 

Mayer continues: “One marina we spoke to said that it had evolved its processes to allow its dock walks to focus on welcoming people to the marina, rather than checking boat movements, while another was able to use the data provided to build reliable insights in marina usage for future infrastructure planning. 

“We’re really looking forward to seeing the results of the trial with a view to rolling this unique smart marina system across our network in the future, offering our customers a totally connected marina experience.”

Seeking to expand its UK cruising network, MDL Marinas recently announced it was looking to partner with independent marinas around the coast of the British Isles.

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