We talk digital marina management with Smart Waters’ Laurent Monsaingeon.

Nabil Ibrahim
Hello Laurent, please tell the reader a little about yourself and your connection with the ocean.

LM: I have been a French Navy officer for more than 15 years, navigating in the Mediterranean, Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Gulf area. I then moved to the South of France where I was the CEO of French Riviera Ports (Cannes, Nice, Golfe Juan, Antibes) for over 18 years. Since then, I contribute to Smart Waters development as associate director, in charge of strategy.

What is Smart Waters?

LM: Smart Waters is a comprehensive digital platform dedicated to marina management that includes a business tool (ERP), managing the port’s resources, typically around the berthing areas, tariffs, contracts and services, invoicing & accounting.

Turnkey business software: Smart Waters is a 21st century, connected and customer-based, marina management system.
What else?

LM: There is plenty, including a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, with a vast database and tools for marketing, communication, launching campaigns and statistics. Also a (web) Port Outreach Tool, an integrated and configurable website for ports that do not yet have one. There is a Customer Portal, so that each customer can access his account, order services, sign contracts, register the boat’s documents and a Customer Application, which duplicates all the functions of the Customer Portal from the boater’s smartphone. We have a virtual connectivity panel, which connects the port via API with all its equipment or connectable systems: electrical terminals, pointing beacons, Wi-Fi, cameras, access control, remote display, car parking, bathymetry, drones, online booking platforms, etc., sending this raw or processed data to be used in the ERP and CRM. Overall, Smart Waters is the software I dreamed of having when I was managing the ‘French Riviera Ports’.

How can going digital help a marina manager?

LM: As in many activities, many tasks in the management of a marina are routine and automatable, not only when it comes to customers in their home port, but also for visitors: finding an available berth, loading the boat’s papers, issuing quotes and invoices, tracking payments and accounting, selling services and goodies, tracing boats in/out movements, alerting on overdue tasks. Once digitised, these tasks will lighten the management team and allow for better customer relations, sales and marketing. But the specificity of marinas requires a specific ERP: this is what Smart Waters offers.

Overall, Smart Waters is the software I dreamed of having when I was managing the ‘French Riviera Ports’.
Is it easy to install?

LM: Smart Waters is easy to install – depending on the size and complexity of the marina it takes from 48h to up to 1 month for the port team and the Smart Waters deployment team to exchange the necessary data: berthing layout, services details, tariffs, boats & customers data, accounting specifics and achieve full deployment.

Can it be controlled from a smartphone?

LM: Yes, all the marina operations can be visualised and controlled from any smartphone by the port operators, and each customer has, as well, access from a smartphone to his account details: boat data, planning of navigation, tariffs, water & electricity consumption, billing & payments, but also Wi-Fi & access codes, car park etc.

How many marinas currently use the Smart Waters system?

LM: There are over 50 marinas currently using Smart Waters. Smart Waters marina management system was born on the French Riviera from the expertise of managers, IT engineers and demanding customers. Our company invested in AI-based sophisticated algorithms for optimising the berthing layout and reservations. For marinas, the use of Smart Waters has often seen an opportunity of turnover growth by as much as 10% in one year, such as for the very busy (during summer) Calvi marina in Corsica, thanks to our ingenious boat placement and process optimisation.

How does it benefit boat owners?

LM: Thanks to Smart Waters tools, the marina management is able to create new services, build customer loyalty programs and reach better customer satisfaction.

This makes happy boat owners, together with the customer portal and App on their smart phones: they have access in a click to their services & port’s market place.

What attracted you to join the LMA?

LM: Our company is aiming at a global deployment of its solution. We have had requests from the Mediterranean, North America, Caribbean navigation areas, and we wish to grow in the Middle East and North Africa area, where we feel the boating and yachting industries have a strong base and a huge growth potential.

How can Smart Waters benefit the UAE’s marinas?

LM: UAE marinas, with the support of Smart Waters as their ERP, will generate a very dynamic capacity to attract customers in the area, but also from yacht owners navigating in the US and Mediterranean areas. With Smart Waters, Middle East marinas will raise their visibility, retain customers and boost their sales, like it did in the Mediterranean marinas.

Smart Waters is developing its Users’ Club that can help marina managers in the UAE exchange their best practices with their colleagues in the Med, and possibly share customers in the superyacht segment.