Jean-Michel Gaigné CMM, founding consultant for InXs Marinas and member of Global Marine Business Advisors, outlines important future trends in the marina industry.
What attracted you to working in the marine industry?
I discovered sailing with my school in the Paris region, aged 11, and quickly became a fanatic! We lived right by the lake and the boats that the school used could be seen from my window. It was very convenient and very tantalising. I was certified as a sailing teacher six years later, then worked within the marine industry and as a correspondent for a French sailing magazine while studying marketing and international trade.
My first full time job was with an IT technologies company as marketing manager. However I stayed only six months and quit for something much closer to my passion – the organisation of the Tour de France à la voile, the famous annual yachting race around the coast of France.
Tell us about your business?
Following 10 years on sailing event management for the Tour I served as the communications manager at BIC Sport, the worldwide leading manufacturer of windsurfing, kayaks and surf products. Then changed tack again in the mid 1990s to manage and develop marinas in France.
From that experience I created my own consultancy, InXs Marinas. My focus is to enable marina operators to improve their business models, develop tourism and cope with new customer expectation trends. I also work with companies in other marine sectors, particularly on developing export markets. At the beginning of 2020 I was one of 19 senior experts located on five continents and in 18 different countries to create the Global Marine Business Advisors group [link] https://www.gmba.blue[/link]. We work together to offer our knowledge and services separately, or collectively, to the world’s boating industry. Working in this way it’s very easy for us to exchange information and assist each other regarding different markets and sectors.
I am also the chairman of TransEurope Marinas, a group of 85 independent marinas in 11 European countries, a member of the ICOMIA Marinas Group and a member of the Blue Flag International Jury which evaluates and awards eco-label certifications to beaches, marinas, and tourism boats.
What interesting trends are you seeing in the industry?
I think that we face three major evolutions.
Firstly, the digitalisation of marina operations has drastically increased over the last two years. Most obviously in the customer relation processes like berth booking, advance reservation, invoicing and so on. The emergence of digital tools and the internet of the things is also influential, which we are seeing in things like sensors to monitor real-time berthing occupancy and alert for onboard outbreak of fire, water leakage or electrical short-circuit. The emergence of younger customers and better use of the internet among older generations are factors behind these changes, leading to the on-trend ‘smart marinas’ concept.
Secondly, we still have many new marina projects in developing countries, but most of the marinas in Europe and the US are 40-50 years old. These havens need more than simple maintenance and refurbishment. They require complete redesign and reconfiguration to adapt to the boat profiles of today. Average beam and length have risen over the past 30 years and there are typically fewer sailing yachts and more motorboats as a trend.
Lastly, growing concern for the environment. New marina developments are sometimes regarded as a potential threat to the local environment. The need to explain and convince the neighbourhood of their merits is ever more significant. We require clean marinas that enforce environmental regulations and educate berth-holders and visitors to encourage better practices. They must save energy, ban single use plastics, pay attention to the water quality, and prepare for a future where boats are powered by electric engines, or hydrogen.
Of course, that means the state of marine technology must improve as well to meet market expectations. We don't see many electric boats yet in marinas today and it will take time for technology to catch up.
What is the importance of METSTRADE to your business?
METSTRADE is very important to source the latest equipment and view innovations. I am always roving the stands to see what’s different and to try and be in advance of competitors when finding new products. This is the only place where most of the international manufacturers and distributors are attending – it's very easy to compare products and to organise business appointments.
How do you plan a typical METSTRADE visit?
I usually spend my two days to the maximum. The Marina & Yard Pavilion is my home base, but I like to browse the different country sections to search for new products and to observe trends. I also attend meetings and presentations. This is also one of the few occasions to meet my colleagues from all over the world, because it's a unique place to gather.
Which METSTRADE areas and activities do you most look forward to?
The Breakfast Briefing is always very inspiring and good for networking too. I also attend the Global Marina Institute meeting because I am Certified Marina Manager. It’s a great moment to meet marina managers who travel in from all around the world.
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