Better Berth Booking? - Yachts International

Better Berth Booking?

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Portbooker.com thinks so

It seems simple enough: an Internet site for real-time boat-slip availability and booking. It’s the kind of idea that makes you wonder, why didn't I think of that? Well, someone did. Portbooker.com, born in Palma de Mallorca in 2005, is positioning itself as the Expedia of the marine world. The company offers live availability and booking ability, plus an extensive and searchable listing of marinas worldwide. The user-friendly site allows checking availability, getting inclusive pricing for the marinas that are part of the live booking system plus practical information, such as nearby hotels and cars.
There will be naysayers. A European boatbuilder told us he did not think the system would work in high-demand areas with little berth availability and said premium slips, for large yachts particularly, tend to involve cash transactions, at least in his slip-starved area. Experienced captains may feel they can get a better deal or better service by picking up the Sat phone and negotiating a price directly with the marina of their choice, particularly if they are frequent visitors.

But did not Expedia or any of the other Internet-booking sites face such objections at the onset? It does not seem to have stopped them from thriving, even if they have not captured the entire hotel-booking business. Portbooker.com seems to have overcome many of these objections. According to company executives, the site already has more than 17,000 registered users, information on 8,500 referenced marinas worldwide and a captains’ club, 5,000 strong. Ancillary services include a blog under “community,” available to registered users, and online boat rental (charter) services. Registered users can retrieve their bookings and data by signing on with their assigned passwords.

If you have booked hotel rooms online and this seems familiar to you, it is not an accident. Robert Neuman, who is in charge of the North American operations, and Palma-based Jorge Velasco, both were hotel industry executives at some point in their careers. If you would like to give it a try, see portbooker.com

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