Jonathan Banks, Executive Director, Sail America
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S CORNER
Offsite Planning Meeting Identifies Exciting Opportunities for Sail America
Every year, the Sail America Board of Directors gathers for a one-day planning session to review the Sail America’s operations and set goals for the coming year(s). The meetings are always well attended, and are certainly thought provoking! This year’s planning meeting was held in Providence in late May with an overall goal to review Sail America’s performance and define our key priorities and initiatives for the coming year.
To start with, Sail America reviewed its accomplishments for the prior year:
- Expanded Sailing’s Footprint at Major U.S. Sailboat Shows: Strictly Sail Pacific, which is owned and managed by Sail America, held its most successful show (in terms of attendance, show experience, and boat/exhibitor displays) since 2007. Strictly Sail Miami, Strictly Sail Chicago, and the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show were also successful, and the new “Sail America Village” at the Southwest International Boat Show helped boost sailing in a largely untapped market.
- Increased Seminar Attendance at Boat Shows: Sail America’s popular seminar series experienced its best year so far, attracting over 20,000 seminar attendees at five boat shows.
- Promoted Sailing in the U.S.: The Discover Sailing program was expanded in 2012 to reach more sailors at more boat shows. Sail America also completed an all-new Discover Sailing video and started developing a comprehensive sailing website that will link sailing prospects to Sail America members.
- Provided Industry News and Market Data: Sail America produced regular issues of Sail America News e-newsletter and held various member/industry meetings. We also communicated industry statistics and reports and held focus groups within our industry to solicit your ideas and recommendations.
- Provided Ongoing Professional Development Initiatives: Sail America planned and produced the 2012 Sailing Industry Conference, which will be held June 25-27 in Newport, Rhode Island. In addition, Sail America produced quarterly issues of Waypoints, the popular educational newsletter.
- Continued to be THE Voice of Sailing on Key Issues Affecting and/or Impacting Sailing Businesses: Sail America works independently and through our affiliation with the NMMA to protect and represent the interests of Sail America members and the sailing industry. Sail America plays an active role with the Grow Boating initiative and had several “seats at the table” at NMMA’s Boating Stakeholders Growth Summit in December.
The board of directors is still in the process of sorting and prioritizing the many ideas and opportunities that were discussed at the planning meeting, but to follow is a summary of some of the key priorities that were identified for the coming year:
- New Website – use the new website to connect sailing prospects with Sail America members and communicate what Sail America is doing.
- Create a Data Warehouse – serve as a clearing house for key market information.
- Expand use of Social Media – Grow Sail America’s LinkedIn group and use to communicate SA’s message.
- Expand Discover Sailing Platform – Continue to promote sailing events for communicating our message about the sailing lifestyle.
- Closer Coordination with Discover Boating – Expand sailing’s role with the Discover Boating campaign.
- Continue to focus on different segments of the sailing industry – sailboat dealers, brokers, as well as “yacht sales professionals” such as boatyards/boat stores that touch sailors/end users.
- Conduct Focus groups – use focus groups to get feedback and to identify new priorities.
- Add new membership categories – E.g. manufacturer sponsored dealers.
- Create local SA ambassadors/regional meetings – organize a series of regional meetings in key markets (e.g. Oakland, St. Pete, Chicago and Houston) to introduce SA and create a roundtable opportunity to discuss key issues facing the sailing industry.
- Introduce member referral program – introduce a program which encourages and incentivizes existing members to refer new members.
- Improve member Communications – new website will improve frequency and quality of communications with members.
- Video Library – create a video library on Sail American website that includes educational information for both consumers and trade.
- Seminar Series – broaden reach, range and impact of Sail America’s seminar series and rethink how and where the SA seminar series can be delivered.
- Industry Training and Education – Build on the success of the Sailing Industry Conference to create educational programs targeted at industry/trade members.
- Determine ways for Sail America to bring more value to boat shows – seminars, special features, additional exhibitors, more attendees, etc.
- Strictly Sail Pacific – build on the success of recent years and leverage the America’s Cup in 2013.
- Sail America Village – Determine the best model for the “Sail America Village” and apply to the Southwest Boat Show and other potential shows.
- Identify New Partnerships – opportunities include YBAA, MRAA, US SAILING, ASA, international marine trade groups, etc.
- NMMA – explore and/or create opportunities to enhance NMMA shows through show promotion, marketing and seminars. Sail America to participate on the Growth Summit/leadership board.
- Discover Boating – work closely with NMMA to weave together the Discover Sailing campaign with Discover Boating and Welcome to the Water campaigns.
- Boat Shows – continue to work closely with other boat show producers to help promote sailing and represent the interests of the sailing industry.
New Sources of Revenue for FY12/13
Sail America is actively looking for new revenue sources. Some of the opportunities under consideration include:
- Create Platinum level membership with exclusive member benefits.
- Insurance partnership (consumer and trade).
- Create advertising opportunities on Strictly Sail Pacific and Discover Sailing websites.
- Run stand-alone seminar program and offer more paid seminars at boat show.
- Create “Pay per View” seminar videos on new website.
- Create “Authors Corner” on new website and sell books, articles, videos, etc.
- Offer weekly/monthly deals on sailing products (ala Groupon).
- Introduce new membership categories.
- Offer individual membership.
As you can see, Sail America has a busy year ahead, with many new and exciting opportunities to explore and introduce. I encourage you send me your feedback on the above priorities and share your suggestions for other areas where Sail America can bring value to its members and the sailing industry.
Wishing you all a wonderful summer!