Designing a friendly marina

February 12, 2014

Port Noblessner is a small marina within a short walking distance from central Tallinn. Originally a Soviet submarine base, it is now converting it’s military heritage into modern, welcoming funk. Development has been ongoing for several years – opening quays, a boat yard and a restaurant – but there is still a long way to go.

We approached their business from the service point-of-view. How could they deliver a better experience to their visitors and increase repeat business? Based on Port Noblessner, the aim was to design the ideal marina, which was presented as a case study at the Hanseboot Boat Fair in Hamburg to German marina developers and owners.

Although the client base of a marina is very wide, we focused on one particular group to keep the case compact and comprehensible: sailboat travellers. This group is vocal, spreading their impressions willingly around their community. They are not frugal racers, but tourist kind of boaters, who care for some pampering and expect assistance from their hosts.

Brand Manual had an unspoiled outsider’s viewpoint. We saw weak points, which were most likely to be overlooked by regular visitors. Aside from thoroughly reviewing Noblessner on site, approaching it both from land and sea, we also conducted extensive interviews with existing and prospective customers, domestic and foreign. We noted what is expected from a marina, what is taken for granted, what is not important and what was remembered because it was unexpected (surprises both good and bad).

Our case study focused on this customer approach, the marina seen through the eyes of a firstcomer. We also built a service cloud that can be applied by most marinas.

Noblessner port service cloud

Sailing visitors are not the backbone of a regular Nordic port’s income, especially considering our short sailing season. While improving the customer experience clearly improves the financial performance of the marina, it is the combination of better customer feedback that allows the “secondary” services, such as winter storage, services for the local government and events to happen. The attraction to all parties is that of a well functioning marina. Nevermind that most people never come by boat.