Fish or Cut Bait

How long-range fishing charter business Tura Charters was able to recover from the downturn in business from the Global Financial Crisis thanks to the smart use of Social Media

Interview by Shannon Woolacott
Edited By France Pinzon

Founders/Owners: Chris and Ellen Pike
Years in Business: 2000 to Present
Website: turacharters.com
Facebook Page Likes: 2,199 and counting

Tura-site   Tura-fb

For years, Gladstone-based fishing charter business Tura Charters relied on the good ol’ word-of-mouth to get their name out to potential customers. Their vessels that would cross the expanses of the Swain Reefs, Coral Sea, Capricorn Bunker Group and Shoalwater Bay have offered fishing, diving, cruising and research services to their passengers for over 14 years. Promotion during the developmental years of Tura Charters via word of mouth and all the regular types of advertising; fishing magazines, yellow pages and web page was good enough.

In fact business was so good that in 2007 they made the big decision to purchase a second charter boat, a significant investment but, one they felt confident doing as “business was fine.”

But then the global financial crisis hit in 2008, and the charter industry crashed hard as people cut down on all discretionary spending. All of a sudden Tura Charters where struggling to fill one boat, much less two.

 

Chris and Ellen Pike

Chris and Ellen Pike

They tried every sort of traditional advertising to recover from the GFC, but to no great result. Then Chris Pike and wife Ellen to decide that traditional advertising wasn’t going to cut it if they wanted their business to survive. “We needed a boost to improve our work in chartering for both our vessels and we just found that our webpage and usual advertising wasn’t enough.”

 

“We had been doing this for a long time, and we were slowing down and thinking, ‘Where are we going and what are we going to do to improve all of this’,” Ellen explains. “So to keep up with today’s trends we needed to adjust our thoughts on advertising to fit in with the usage of phone apps, iPads, and all the different tools we needed, and we thought Social Media will be the way to get it out there.”

TAKING ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND FACEBOOK

Ellen wasn’t even using Social media personally at that stage (and at present still hasn’t much), so once they decided to use social media, they sought professional assistance from a Social Media management company via their Facebook workshop and saw good results almost instantly upon implementation. “We’re uploading photos and videos and news on our latest charters [and] we found the responses really good,” Ellen shares. “People wanted to know about it and they loved to see the pictures.”

FINDINGS

Why get on Social Media?

  1. Wider Reach

Despite initial worries about getting negative feedback online, Tura Charters eventually realised the fact that their business was able to reach out to far more people than normal advertising ever could. “My main concern was knowing that you could have a lot of negative comments maybe on your timeline from people and knowing how to handle it and that was one of my negatives and knowing how to do that. I now realise that you always get negative [feedback] from the public, I suppose, no matter how hard you try,” Ellen says. “We’ve learnt that you cannot please everyone no matter what you do so we just do the best we can.”

  1. Advertising on Facebook

The Pikes admit of age being one of the things that made them a little reluctant to embrace social media the first time, but Ellen verifies that things such as putting ads on Facebook even relieved them of the stress in running a business. “With the Social Media managers helping us in the advertising area, it has taken a lot of weight off of my shoulders and given me room to breathe and continue to do everything else within our business, without the overwhelming fact that I’ve got to be out there, I’ve got to be advertising, I’ve got to be trying to get in work all the time,”Ellen says of accomplishing such task made possible by hiring trained social media managers.

“By advertising through Facebook and generally keeping up to that as much as I can has just lifted and helped me immensely. It can actually create a lot of health problems if you’ve got a lot of stress on you and it just uplifted that and it really is a big help for me,” Ellen explains.

  1. Facebook keeps track of the results

• Facebook fans have grown from 209 to 2,021.

• Website visitors have increased from 1000  per month to 3,500

• 2500 people visiting their website each month from Facebook (an increase of 350%)

Ellen said that over the last 6 months, out of all of the advertising they had tried, Social Media was the only one that had worked for them. “The results were almost straight away,” she says of how they have been able to see and study the immediate effects of what they post on their Facebook page. “It was really good and we were quite surprised with the results we got, especially from putting up pictures and the news that we had been putting on our website. We decided, ‘No we’ll put them on our Facebook page as well and we get more following from that than we do from our webpage’.”

tura-article

And when you DO get your business on Social Media…

  1. Update it regularly

“Get it set up properly, be consistent, and make a habit out of viewing and responding to your page,” Ellen shares. “I don’t know if you can spend too much less time if you want to be able to keep up with everything.”

  1. Be informative!

“We found that pictures, videos, and especially our news updates are always good and always get a good response,” she adds. “Whatever your business offers and you I learnt that through the workshop. Look at what your business offers and post to suit.”

  1. Get professional assistance

“I learnt a lot from the Social Media managers,” says Ellen, “how to put things on there, how to set up the photo page for the business with the logo. Just all the little general bits and the privacy bits that I really wasn’t aware of, just lots of information that night and how to connect with other people and using the messaging if you didn’t want to go on timeline and how to do it privately. “

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – consider outsourcing

“It’s pretty constant so you’ve got to be on top of it all the time and if you aren’t able to do it then you definitely need some help running it as you do with most other things in your business,” Ellen suggests. “It’s an asset to have someone to help you, because it grows every day. I think if you can’t do it yourself, you haven’t got the time to do it, enlist someone to help you with it because it certainly is a benefit to you.”

“With the Social Media experts helping us in the advertising area it has taken a lot of weight off of my shoulders and given me room to breathe and continue to do everything else within our business that I do without the overwhelming fact that I’ve got to be out there, I’ve got to be advertising I’ve got to be trying to get in work all the time. By advertising through Facebook and generally keeping up to that as much as I can, has just lifted and helped me immensely. It can actually create a lot of health problems if you’ve got a lot of stress on you and it just uplifted that and it really is a big help for me.”

“If you need help, go and have a Social Media management team help you.”

Looking back on it…

“Being that little bit older and just getting into this type of thing we were a little bit wary,” Ellen realises.

But now she says that it’s a sense of relief that they are using it well and it has worked so well in getting the business recognised. “And it has had this effect a big effect on the business. Slowly filtering through with lots of people viewing the page, we’re now starting to get a lot of our enquires actually from Facebook so it’s a big benefit to us on your business,” she explains. “I think if you want to get your business out there, give it a go, because it’s definitely worth it; it’s the way to go. It’s what’s happening in this generation.”

Tura Charters offer fishing, diving, spearfishing, cruising, ecotours, and research, among others. Visit www.turacharters.com for bookings and information regarding their vessels and charters.

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