BERTH HOLDERS' FORUM Q&A

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BERTHING PRODUCTS

Can you tell us more about the Otium scheme?

Otium is the name given to our Loyalty Scheme and is Latin for leisure time. Otium offers you the chance to generate points from purchasing services, points that can be redeemed to save on future purchases. Otium has been specifically designed to give you much more choice about how you use your MDL discounts If, for example, you don’t use our lifting services, you can put your points towards discounted fuel. Or, if you do not use Freedom Berthing overnight stays, put it towards your annual renewal. It is a new way for us to give more choice to you. Otium is available to all of our customers, visitors, monthly berth holders, and annual berth holders. However, to get the very best out of your points your long term annual commitment to us is key, hence loyalty. Join the scheme so you can earn and redeem your points wherever you are and on all of MDL’s services. Over the past 2 years we have received comments from many customers that they didn’t feel value in the fixed discounting that we offer through the Freedom Berthing package. We were asked to look at opportunities to make our berthing package more valuable by allowing customers to choose the benefits that they apply discounts to. Otium will continue to evolve with exciting developments next year as we start to add our tenants to the loyalty scheme.

Is there any difference in berthing rates between Freedom Berthing and Otium? Or difference for early payment?

Our Otium and Freedom Berthing packages are priced the same. The only difference is the benefits - one is based on flexibility and choice and the other on fixed benefits. Both packages currently off an early payment discount, however this is only a promotional offer for Otium and will not be offered as standard. Freedom Berthing is not available for new berth holders.

Can points be used to pay towards the following year’s berthing charges or can they only be used for services e.g. lifts, fuel etc? And can you still get free nights away with Otium as you can with Freedom Berthing?

You can use your points against next year's berthing and all points last for three years from the point of generation. You can also use your points to save on visitor berthing but you do not get free nights away as you currently do with Freedom Berthing.

How can I work out if Otium is better for me?

We’ve created a Points Calculator on our website which allows you to work out if Otium is better for you. If you think it’s better to switch, then please do at renewal time. For more information go to https://www.mdlmarinas.co.uk/otium.

As a Dry Stack Freedom berth holder, what would be the advantage of moving to Otium?

If you’re a Dry Stack customer and you don’t use Freedom Berthing, the advantage of moving to Otium is that you would start earning points when you fill up on fuel and on boatyard services. So you might find that Otium works out better for you over the year. Have a look at our online Points Calculator and if it does work out better, you’re free to switch at renewal time.

It’s difficult to get a Freedom Berthing visitor berth, especially at your West Country marinas, so why do you advertise Freedom Berthing when it’s not available?

Freedom Berthing is one of our key products and we have many people who use it.. With the west country almost fully occupied, a boom in staycations and a massive decrease in the amount of berth holders who were prepared to travel or move their boat this year booking space has decreased. We appreciate that it has been difficult to book a berth. However there are hundreds of Freedom Berthing nights that have been applied. We’re looking at ways we can make availability more visual and easier to book, and we’re hoping to do it through the My MDL account area in Q2 of 2021.

Will Freedom Berthing end as a result of Otium?

Freedom Berthing still stands for existing customers. In your renewals, you’ll get the opportunity to keep Freedom Berthing or switch to Otium. Depending on usage, may depend on whether you want to switch.


SERVICE & QUALITY

We have seen a jump in pontoon electricity costs. With the buying power of MDL, could you not get a better price than we get in our homes?

We always go for best price as much as we can but last year we came to the end of our term deal and we saw an increase in MDL’s energy costs, which has affected the marina berths and tenancy. We charge the cost price of electricity and it’s a blended cost across the invoices you receive including the standing charges that come from the electricity provider, and that’s the electricity charge that’s passed on to you.

I've experienced quite a few problems relating to WiFi. Please advise any future plans relating to the general provision of WiFi to berth holders.

We know that we don’t have the WiFi coverage or speed that we would like to have in every single location. One of the reasons is due to the location of our marinas which means the supply of internet to the site is restricted. We’re due to review with our supplier the provision of the nodes and the terminals on the marinas to try and improve the connectivity in some of these locations and we’ll be doing that over the course of the next 6 months.

How do you measure customer service performance across all marinas?

There is no doubt that customers are the lifeblood and everything we do we try to do from a customer centric view. The reason the forums have taken place is that we want to get as many views and questions from customers as possible to improve your experience with us. The main way we measure customer service is through the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer surveys.

What is MDL doing to improve car parking facilities?

We’re aware that we have challenges with car parking at some of our marinas. We have a roll out programme in place for some managed parking in some locations like Ocean Village, and we’re working on different programmes for different marinas dependant on the types of demand. We’ve noticed a significant increase in parking requirements from members of the public. New parking permits will be issued in April and, with increased seasonal staff, it’s intended that we’ll spend more time checking permits in cars, as well as off-site contractors working at our marinas, making sure they’ve appropriately registered with the marina office.

Chandleries have closed at several of your marinas making it more difficult to complete maintenance work. What is MDL doing about this?

Customer shopping habits have changed, which has had an impact on chandleries. The chandlery business model no longer works in smaller locations with the majority of businesses now online. We appreciate how important a chandlery is to all berth holders and tenants, and several of our marinas are beginning to stock some general chandlery items. We’re also working with Force 4 Chandlery to see if an essentials and click & collect rack can be provided in the Marina Office. We’re waiting for further details from Force 4 on this concept.

Does MDL have any plans in place to improve the appearance of marinas

The cleanliness and appearance of our marinas is important to us as we know it impacts upon your enjoyment. Keeping our marinas clean and tidy, especially where we have boatyard activity, has been made difficult by the distraction of COVID and the new way of working. Next year we are focusing heavily on auditing and we’ve brought in the teams and processes required to be able to regularly audit the quality of our proposition at each of our marinas to make sure we’re much more consistent about the service we provide. This extends through things like making sure air vents are clean, shower cubicles are maintained properly, door handles work – the finer details that make a difference to our customer experience.

Staff levels seem to have fallen this year. Is this an ongoing trend?

We’ve had to minimise staff this year to minimise contact and operate in a different way at our marinas. We’re hopeful that restrictions will move away next year, and we will be focusing on providing many more summer seasonal staff at the marinas to assist our customers next year. The focus will be on service items so it will be taking lines, serving fuel and collecting trolleys and being there to support you as customers. There are lots of things going on in the background to make our service provision better to you.

There appears to be an inconsistent approach to booking boat lifts at your marinas. It would be great to see some transfer of best practice and a robust process in place.

We are looking at a digital solution for yard bookings, but this is about 6 to 12 months off. In the meantime, our teams are implementing new procedures for yard bookings to improve the booking process.

I do not understand why the showers were taken out of action this year?

We spent a lot of time interpreting the government guidelines and worked with industry bodies such as British Marine. Whilst other operators took on additional cleaning of their shower facilities, we individually cleaned every shower unit, after every use. This was our interpretation of the guidelines and the best way to keep everyone safe.


SAFETY, SECURITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

What is MDL doing to improve security?

Customer who have been with us a long time will know that safety and security is important to us. We know we fall down on this occasionally and site security and CCTV is something we’ve been focusing on in the last few months in every location. We have an aspiration to be able to centrally monitor and hold the data recorded from CCTV cameras. One of the reasons is that by having it stored in the Cloud we have much quicker access and get higher quality recordings in the event that someone needs to explore the footage.

Has MDL considered fitting webcams to the marinas so that owners can remotely see over their boats?

We are looking at what we can do from a webcam perspective. There are challenges due to the size of our marinas and the quality of camera needed, but we are investigating.

Could we be able to sleep on our boat when ashore if only a few nights per month?

You’ll find that most, if not all of the major marina operators won’t allow to you to sleep onboard your boat ashore and primarily the reason is safety. If a boat happens to be hit by a gust of wind whilst in the marina, the worst it’s going to do is heel over. If a boat is ashore and there is a gust of wind, there is a potential for it to fall over and cause serious injury if you’re inside. For your safety, we can’t allow this, and we will not change this particular ruling.

What is MDL doing on sustainability?

We’re aware that our activity has an impact on the environment and that is why we’re committed to environment improvement. We’re proud to be the primary supporter of the Blue Marine Foundation. We also support the Green Blue campaign and we’re hosting the first Green Tech Boat Show at Queen Anne’s Battery in June 2021. All the electricity we purchase is Green energy and comes from 100% renewable sources, so this means you benefit from cleaner Greener Energy and that tends to be produced in harmony with the environment. We’ve installed solar panels at several of our sites to return power to the grid, installed further electric car points, and we also have two water treatment systems in place where we can recycle the water from pressure washing, clean it and put the clean water back into the waterways. We’re working with the Environment Agency on getting a clean water discharge consent, something no other marina operator has ever been able to achieve.


INVESTMENT

What spending plans does MDL have at its marinas in 2021?

MDL is owned by a family who are in the business for the long term, so reinvestment is really important to us. Marinas are a very capital intensive business, and we invest most of our profits back into the business. Despite the pandemic, we’ve managed to continue to invest in our marinas. Last year we spent £5m on maintenance and improvements, and we’re going to spend around the same figure this year. One million of this is spent on dredging, so that we can offer all our customers full tidal access. We have a separate model for larger developments like holiday parks that is supported by the bank.

If you feel any areas of your marina are lacking from maintenance,, please let us know by completing our feedback form.

Will any more MDL marinas be opening?

We’re always actively looking for new locations. However, any new marina would have to complement what we already offer e.g. the ability to cruise to other locations, which is really important to us. If marinas come up we will certainly look at them.


COMMUNICATION

Do you have any plans to improve berth holder communications?

We’ve done a lot of work over the last 8 months integrating all of our systems to make sure our communication is a lot faster and more importantly, relevant to you. We’ve brought in a new CRM system and developed a new website that it is mobile optimised and contains topics that are interesting to use as a berth holder. We communicated every step of the way as the legislation changed on COVID, including regularly updating the FAQs on our website. We introduced an online community forum - The Even Keel - based on feedback from the face-to-face forums we held earlier in the year. Berth holders said, if they were new to boating or were at a marina and didn’t know anyone, they wanted an area where they could try to get to know people, arrange cruises and talk boating. We’re hoping that you will have noticed these improvements and now start to receive communication based your boating with MDL.

If you have an enquiry or would like to submit feedback, it’s best to use the enquiry and feedback forms on our website, as it will go to the right person and we can track the response and in turn improve our response rate.

When sending communication, please also send via email as not everyone uses Twitter and Facebook.

Email for us is always the first port of contact. However, just because an email is sent it doesn’t guarantee that it will arrive in your inbox. Which is why we also put anything that we think you’ll need to know, not just across our social channels, but across our website as well. If you’re not getting our emails and you feel you should be, please click on this link to the preference centre and update your preferences to opt in to receive all of our communications

Living a long way from the marina makes attending physical meetings difficult. Could there be a virtual presence for all such meetings going forward?

Our wish is to continue the virtual forums next year and we are planning them for May and October. Taking on board customer feedback, we will look at reducing the length of these sessions although this will be dependent on the volume of questions received.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the forums, so we can make the improvements that matter.

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