The second annual Watersport and Boat Tour Operator Forum in Orlando, FL kicked off with some foreboding as Hurricane Ian was gathering strength off the Gulf Coast. With many of the operators in the room likely to be affected by the storm, everyone was cognizant of the potential damage that could befall them and their businesses. And sadly, some tour operators were greatly affected; please take a moment to check out TripShock’s GoFundMe page relating to Ian’s disaster relief, as we were able to raise nearly $11,000!
Even with the concern of the storm looming overhead, the operators gathered around the Rosen’s pool on Sunday night to have a few cocktails and chat about the recent season. With many operators seeing a pullback from the explosive 2021 season, it seemed the focus was on tactics to manage growth in an uncertain economy moving into 2023.
Cautious optimism was the general tone of the forum and was proven by the growth the event saw year over year. The knowledge and value gained from meeting like-minded people in the industry, talking strategy, and sharing excitement about their businesses is priceless, especially after being cooped up for the last few years.
A key takeaway from the event was that regardless of the current issues that present themselves (being weather, economy, supply chain constraints, or any number of other problems), watersport operators are a resilient and optimistic bunch that are ready to tackle those challenges with a smile.
Table of Contents
- Opportunities to Network with Watersports Experts
- Operator “Hot Seat” Sessions
- Sponsored Parties
- So Much More!
Opportunities to Network with Watersports Experts
Our conference room was full of bright minds and young professionals, as well as travel industry veterans, some of whom started running their boat rentals all the way back in 1990 (Yep, that’s right!)! From large headboat tour operators to solopreneur kayak rental businesses and everything in between (e.g., jet ski rentals), there was room for everyone to interact, and share experiences, tips, strategies, and insights on all things watersports.
Operator “Hot Seat” Sessions
As we’re navigating through the unordinary post-COVID years, we all start to look at what the 2023 and beyond might look like for tour operators and the watersports industry in general. Thus a key theme at the event was looking forward to what the future holds and how to navigate in these uncertain times. Peter Syme from Disrupt Travel and Douglas Quinby from Arival helped to moderate a variety of hot seats that provided strategies, guidance, and thoughtful commentary on the future of our industry and the economy as a whole. The moderated “Hot Seats” sessions have also helped us hear Operator Stories, which was especially helpful and inspiring to those who are just starting out their watersports businesses.
Planning to retire but don’t have a plan on how to do that? Trish Higgins from Chenmark got our audience covered, and she also makes a great CEO of Cap’n Fish’s Cruises! The participants have enjoyed the pace and topics discussed, which pivoted their business strategy and tactics based on feedback we’ve received. Other topics included Industry Outlook: Key Trends in Tours, Activities & Watersports by Douglas Quinby from Arival, Coffee is for Closers by Steve Edward from AAMP Agency, and Kevin O’Neil from Destiny Water Adventures, a.k.a. Awkward Watersport Guys Podcast co-host and other.
The roundtable sessions are always a favorite at the forum. They allow everyone to engage on a more intimate level, ask questions directly to experts and each other, and build a community around our industry. Those who were looking to have an opportunity to discuss favorite topics, such as Technology (Boat trackers, software, equipment), had a chance to do so with John Stevens from Luther’s Pontoon, Waverunners, & Kayaks Rentals; he’s even brought some of his fancy gadgets to the conference! Think it’s too techy for you? We’ve also discussed many other topics with our audience, including “Track Everything” with Steve Edward from AAMP Agency, and were contemplating with Rachel Dickey from TripShock whether Resellers is right for your business. Speaking of which, if you read this post, you probably either already partner with TripShock or not yet and might be interested in considering joining our Watersports Family! Simply fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you shortly to discuss how we can help you hit your goals with your watersports business. 🙂
A great event can’t happen without awesome food and drinks! We had 3 parties, 2 provided lunches, and a couple of cocktail receptions to make sure you didn’t get hungry or thirsty! Chilled vibes with a variety of beverage options and treats provided by the hotel’s catering service sparked hot conversations and fruitful discussions on how to grow your watersports businesses under different circumstances. Thanks to our amazing sponsors for making this happen!
So Much More!
This overview is just a brief glance at what makes the forum so special. There is so much value to be had from getting together, learning, and building relationships with the incredible watersport tour operators who attend. But don’t take just our words for it; here’s what Justin Buzzi, Founder of Get Up and Go Kayaking, a.k.a. TripShock Partner, has to say about the Watersport Forum 2022:
Finally, check out the Awkward Watersport Guys Podcast episode covering the Watersport Forum Recap and the overview video below: