Boaters' Choice

Why are Marinas.com's Boaters' Choice Awards skewed toward the East Coast?

January 03, 2020

The Log, one of California's leading boating and fishing publications, brought up a fantastic point with regard to the Boaters' Choice Awards: why aren't there more West Coast marinas on the list? 

Out of 259 winners, only two Cali marinas "made the cut" as determined by boater reviews left on their marinas' profiles, while upwards of 100 in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island did. Any boater or marina manager with a shred of California pride would wonder, what's the deal? We commented in response to The Log article itself, and are sharing here as well in an effort toward transparency and with hope it will help get the message out: Boaters' Choice Awards are based on boater reviews, so marinas should claim their profiles (it's free!) and encourage boaters to submit reviews. 

Marina managers or staff:

Here's our response:

First off, thank you for your interest in Marinas.com’s 2019 Boaters’ Choice Awards. Regarding West Coast representation on the list of marinas, you make a valid point that we, too, noted internally as we crunched the numbers to reveal this year’s winners.

In summary:

  • It was certainly not our intention to slight West Coast marinas!
  • Your article refers to the list “as selected by the website, Marinas.com,” however Marinas.com set the requirements and does not “select” the winners – boaters, in effect, do this as they leave reviews throughout the year. Therefore:
  • For more West Coast marinas to earn Boaters’ Choice awards, their managers can claim their Marinas.com profiles if they haven’t already, and encourage boaters to submit reviews after their stay – and:
  • West Coast boaters can proactively review marinas to commend their hard work and good facilities, or to give feedback on what can be improved
  • We will be working this year to balance our user base throughout the U.S. and beyond.

To provide more detail and backstory:

Marinas.com’s user base – made up of boaters and marina managers/teams – is stronger on the East Coast, and we're working to grow both communities throughout the country. There’s clearly work left to be done, and balancing geographic distribution is one of our top priorities.

As you noted, the 2019 Boaters’ Choice recipients earned this year’s designation based upon the cumulative reviews submitted by boaters on Marinas.com throughout the year. Prior to The Wanderlust Group’s acquisition of Marinas.com in 2017, becoming a Boaters’ Choice Award recipient had been more of an advertising play; namely, a way in which some marinas could pay for the designation of “best.” One of our priorities during the transition of Marinas.com was to democratize the Boaters’ Choice Awards in a way that would legitimize the award while leveraging one of the site’s key features: boater reviews. We considered conducting an end-of-year vote, but that method is subject to its own biases (e.g., ballot-stuffing). We took a page from travel industry leader TripAdvisor, and decided to lean on the “votes” submitted organically and continuously: boater reviews.

We’re working to improve our communication efforts with marina teams to educate them on Boaters’ Choice Awards requirements, as well as why online reviews matter, why receiving a Boaters' Choice Award matters, and how Marinas.com can further help their business across the board. All businesses are eligible to be honored; there is no ranking system, and no cap on the number of marinas that can earn a Boaters’ Choice Award. Further, since the reviews on which the award is based are within one calendar year, earning a Boaters’ Choice Award is a milestone that all marinas can reach despite changes in management, construction projects, etc. More marinas achieving Boaters’ Choice status indicates, among other things, an increase in marinas going above and beyond to provide awesome experiences to their boaters, and leveraging relevant avenues to promote their marina and communicate with customers in order to continue to improve and grow their business. 

The list of Boaters’ Choice Award winners is intended as a celebration of the businesses that Marinas.com boaters are most excited about, not an intentional judgment with regard to the quality of inland and West Coast marinas. The representation was and is due to, admittedly, a geographically-skewed user base. We’re sincerely looking forward to announcing this year's awards in December 2020 and the months leading up to it as we grow Marinas.com in regions where we currently have less of a presence. Thank you for drawing attention to Marinas.com and the Boaters’ Choice Awards to help us kick those efforts into high gear. 

Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions, I and the team here are happy to continue the conversation. Thank you to you and your team for all you do to promote boating.  

Click here to read the original post in The Log

View all Boaters' Choice winners

California's Top-Rated Marinas of 2019