Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 728x90

Sailing School finds success by embracing Social Media

by Buffalo News/Lee Mylchreest on 22 May 2012
Bill Zimmerman and the clients he found through Social Media .. .
It's a story from which many a struggling sailing school could take a lead. The Seven Seas Sailing School, located in Buffalo, New York State, USA, was a challenging seasonal business, kept going by a lot of passion and determination, but the company was merely gliding, not flourishing. It all changed when they embraced social media on the Internet.

'It has completely transformed how we do business, said Bill Zimmerman, director of the company. 'We’ve gone from being a small, anxious business that was Buffalo’s best-kept secret, to a strong, thriving, waterfront institution. 'It has brought us a financial stability that is precious to us.'

The breakthrough came two years ago when the company began offering daily deals through the social buying websites LivingSocial and Groupon, heavily discounting its two-hour chartered picnic sail for two.

The strategy was that those customers would return to Seven Seas for keelboat lessons once they caught the sailing bug.

It seems to have worked.

'It’s hard to ask for a better season than last year,' Zimmerman said. 'I don’t want to be greedy, but I’m already getting the sense that this season is going to be tremendously successful, too.'

Where the company once prebooked five or six sails for the season, it prebooked more than 600 during 2010 and 2011.

Though the sails were discounted by about 64 percent, Seven Seas didn’t take a hit. That’s because many of the school’s captains — part paid, part commission, part volunteer — donate hours of their service simply for the love of sailing. Any money made on the tours goes directly to them.

Those big numbers have translated into lesson sales. The school has added 10 Coast Guard-certified instructors to its original four to handle the new students.

In years past, the school had spent $15,000 on television commercials.

'That sounds like a lot, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to some budgets. You really need to spend a couple hundred grand to get your name out,' Zimmerman said. 'With social media, we’ve been able to inundate the marketplace with awareness.'

That market now stretches well beyond the Canadian border into Ontario.

'For anyone south of Toronto, it’s actually less of a stress to drive to Buffalo than to drive through Toronto,' Zimmerman said. 'But calling Welland used to be an $8 phone call. How could you afford to market there? Social media has blown that wide open now, and it’s only going to get bigger.'

He sees Ontario as a huge growth market for the company, with the potential to increase his business by one third solely on the influx of Canadian customers.

But Seven Seas Sailing School didn't stop there. In 2010, they opened the Indian school, where some of its local instructors now spend their winters. The Tanzanian school, on Lake Victoria, should be open next spring.

'I’ve done all kinds of sailing—racing, I owned a charter in Hawaii for years,' said Ed Quinlan, an instructor who helped set up the Indian school. 'Now the most pleasure I get is from promoting the sport of sailing through teaching.'

Seven Seas is on a mission to promote a love of sailing here, too.

http://www.buffalonews.com

The very idea of a community sailing school is something far removed from the traditional avenues to sailing. In the past, if you didn’t own a sailboat or belong to a yacht club, you generally didn’t learn to sail. The expense excluded entire populations of people from the sport.

But Seven Seas changed that, heading up a trend that has caught on around the country.

'Our business will definitely grow. It’s a rising tide that will lift all boats,' said Zimmerman.
Mackay BoatsAncasta Ker 33 660x82PredictWind.com

Related Articles

Bavaria Yachts to introduce Cruiser 34 and Nautitech 46
The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina, from February 16th to 20th.
Posted on 13 Feb
Unique Transatlantic Sailing Event - Building friendship across oceans
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Sailing in the wake of the great explorers, international friendship and understanding is at the core of this once in a lifetime adventure - The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Posted on 10 Feb
Frigid flying – Coast Guard aircrews take on New England Winter
Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. At Air Station Cape Cod, aviation maintenance and electronic technicians work around the clock to ensure the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are prepared and ready to launch. There is one thing the maintenance crews and pilots cannot control: winter weather.
Posted on 9 Feb
On board interview with Lisa Blair - solo Antartica circumnavigation
So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. After the setbacks of a delayed departure due to gremlins in the electronics, we are delighted to have these answers from her on board. She is well and enjoying her time. Climate Action Now, her Hick 50, left Albany in Western Australia on January 22, 2017.
Posted on 8 Feb
Yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton dies at 96
“The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist” died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. Mike Peyton, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist”, died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. A modest, shy man, he eschewed the spotlight and seemed unaware of the esteem which in sailors all around the world held him.
Posted on 27 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan
Sounds like a boat - Lisa Blair's departure delayed due to electronics
Final preparations of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue Final preparations and safety checks of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue.
Posted on 15 Jan
Lisa Blair starts Solo Circumnavigation of Antarctica
Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, over 500 have rowed across the various oceans and 12 people have landed on the moon. Only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Sydney-based Lisa Blair, 32, intends to become the first woman, the fastest and the third person in history to conquer such a challenge.
Posted on 14 Jan
When whales meet sails
CAMPER helmsman Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez found himself nearly face to face with whale in middle of North Atlantic Ocean. Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse. We are requesting sailors and boaters help to submit information on current and past incidents, however long ago that may be. By giving a location, date, identification if possible, and any other relevant information you can help scientists better understand where marine mammals are at risk for strikes
Posted on 8 Jan
Potential instability in Atlantic Ocean water circulation system
One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict, according to a new study. In fact, changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — the same deep-water ocean current featured in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” — could occur quite abruptly, in geologic terms, the study says.
Posted on 6 Jan