The Importance of Digital Waivers for Water Sports Operators

The Importance of Digital Waivers for Water Sports Operators

The Importance of Digital Waivers for Water Sports Operators

Please be aware, this is not legal advice. We recommend that you do your own research and speak to a legal representative when designing your waiver.

Approximately 77% of fatal accidents in boating can be attributed to a lack of education or training. With a huge campaign around boater awareness at the moment, and fresh-off the COVID pandemic, the future of watersports is safety. The travel is the industry is striving to significantly reduce the amount of fatalities and injuries that happen annually which are potentially avoidable. 

There is a vast amount of watercraft that can be rented or chartered, which means that educational campaigns need to be selective and targeted – i.e the minimum stopping distance of a jet ski is far greater than that of a pontoon, so a blanket approach does not work.

Previously, operators would rely on the lead booker (and usually the driver) to distribute safety information to the other guests in the party, but some important details can get lost. You also don’t want to overload the lead guest with information at booking, as this increases the time it takes for your guests to reach the all important “Pay Now” button reducing your conversion rates (i.e the amount of people that start the booking process vs actual bookings).


Opening Lines of Communication


For businesses trying to compete in 2023 and beyond, it’s important to stay current with not only technology, but customer service trends. Digital waivers, whether liability waivers or other, do an excellent job of opening up lines of communication with all of the guests in the party and not just the lead booker. This information is also collected post payment so there’s no risk of the person booking dropping off before entering their credit card details. Once they pay the waiver is automatically sent via email and SMS and, with around 90% of digital waivers completed in advance, your guests can complete their forms in their own time, from their own devices – preventing a bottleneck on site. 

Wherewolf can also automatically send the appropriate waiver to the right guest, so if someone books a pontoon, we can make sure each guest knows they can’t bring BBQs or towables, or if renting a jet ski that PWC’s can’t be ridden at night. By being direct with your communication you can remove any ambiguity. 

Different states also have varying requirements which operators must follow. For example, Floridians must earn a boating safety ID card if they were born Jan. 1, 1988, or later. Wherewolf can easily insert a link or reminder in the waiver flow to guests that fit this demographic. E.g:

boat waiver example 1


You can also highlight certain parts of your waiver so your guests have to physically click on a paragraph before they can proceed. Insurance companies like this method as it shows a correlation between the signer and each body of text. It’s important to think about what information you need them to know, as we’re all guilty of scrolling through terms and conditions without reading a single line, so this will definitely happen with your own guests.

highlighting points in a travel waiver


In some states, the coast guard also requires each vessel to have a list of guests on board. Each trip gets automated collated onto a manifest which displays all of the guests information on one page. This list can then be printed or viewed from any device by the captain:

coast guard waiver requirements


Collect, Automate, Grow.


With a digital waiver you should also ask yourself: what data points would be useful to help me grow my business?

We recommend at a minimum getting an email address and phone number from each guest, as you can now automate review campaigns to every participant and not just the person who made the reservation. 

Some other ideas around data are:

  • Run social media ads with razor-sharp precision by capturing their age, state, and zip code. Not only can you curate highly targeted audiences, but you’ll know who your locals are for those shoulder season discounts. 
  • Ask them where they heard about you and direct your budget into the channels that are showing the highest ROI. Don’t solely rely on Google Analytics, this only tells you half of the story. For example someone might have heard about you from a hotel brochure, but booked with you through an OTA. 
  • Monitor guest suitability for your tours – such as their previous experience, their allergies, or medical conditions – and develop new offerings. A food tour operator might find that they’re getting increasing numbers of vegetarian guests, and create a vegetarian food tour. Or a rock climbing operator could discover that all their customers are highly experienced, so they offer a beginners learning tour to help people find their way into the sport (and tap into a new customer base).
  • Ask them how long they’re in town for and, if longer than a day, recommend some other tours.

To learn more about digital waivers for your business, click here.


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