iCalendar Booking System
Upcoming Meet the Fleet DaysSouthampton Boat Show — Fri 15th to Sun 24th Sep 2017Hamble — Sat 7th Oct 2017 Lymington — Sun 8th October 2017
Our Meet the Fleet Days are a great opportunity to see a large number of our boats at the same time. However, if these times don't work for you please call us on 01590 688 008 and arrange a mutually convenient time to see a specific boat.
iCalendar Booking System
Fundamental to any type of “boat share” is a booking calendar system that is sophisticated enough to ensure that each members' sailing time is guaranteed and that the boat’s usage is shared fairly between all members. Without a substantial programming investment you are left with a basic calendar and a rough and tumble first come first served basis. This is great for the first off the blocks, but hopeless for everyone else who is always left with second best, or nothing at all. We don’t think that this is fair and so have created a system that is fair to all - no matter what time of the year you join.
At FlexiSail we believe in fairness and have invested to create a sophisticated state of the art booking system that is designed to be flexible and easy to use; gives a wealth of relevant information and additional functions including tides, weather and FlexiCrew. It allows you to book your time on a mobile, at home or in the office when it suits you, and of course in real time.
Here is how our iCalendar ensures that you have a great experience sailing with FlexiSail:
The key benefits of our iCalendar are:
- Guaranteed time - Depending on the membership level (Anytime, Weekender, or Midweeker) you receive a guaranteed allocation of time that you can book on your boat. We can guarantee it because we use 2 monthly booking rotations that are 9 weeks long and our members advanced booking allocation only adds up to a max of 8 weeks. Therefore, even at the height of the season your weekdays and weekend days are available and cannot be booked by anyone else. Compare this to the competitive nature of the first come basis where nothing is guaranteed. If you have 100 members that have access to your boat you only have a 1 in 100 chance of getting your date, or a 1 in 99 for your second choice. With FlexiSail you are never competing with more than 7 other memberships that might want the exact same date, and with no one for your guaranteed allocation within the booking rotation.
- 12 month rolling calendar - We allow you to plan ahead by giving you the ability to always book up to 12 months in advance. As an Anytime member you can hold 18 days of advanced bookings. You are not required to have prepaid to advance book, and you can cancel or move your advance bookings at any time up to 48 hours before your booking(s) without loss. As soon as you have used some of your allocation you can book more, so that you maintain up to 18 days of planned sailing in your diary during the 12 months ahead.
- Free cancellation or change of bookings – We want to encourage you to advance plan your boating, because we know that by doing so you will sail more and get better value from your membership. It is a myth to believe that by having your own boat you will sail more – too many other things will fill your diary! Our members sail more than most private owners simply because they plan. Our iCalendar allows you to make, cancel, swap or exchange time with other members at any time, up to 12 months ahead. If your plans change or the weather is unsuitable, you simply change your dates. The only caveat is that this flexibility is constrained to within each 2 month (9 week) booking rotation, and cancellations should be more than 48 hours before the start of your booking. In contrast, standard marine practice requires payment or prepayment to book, and cancellations are not refundable! This makes advance planning a complete lottery with unpredictable weather and changes to personal commitments requiring a change of your sailing plans. If you plan ahead then cancel you will lose time that you have paid for, or if you don’t plan ahead the consequence will be less sailing as other commitments will have filled your diary.
- Time exchange – You are only sharing your boat with a small number of other members, many of whom will become friends. The iCalendar allows you not only to swap a date or two with another member, but to exchange blocks of time too. Sometimes members are away or not able to sail for part of the year. When this happens they can give some or all of their allocation in a booking rotation to another member who will give them some of their allocation at another time within the next 12 months. This is a great way to sail for more extended periods or simply get greater value from your membership.
- Boat exchange - this takes the time exchange facility and allows you to use the iCalendar to exchange blocks of time with another member on another boat in our fleet. These booking have to be approved through our management system to ensure that you have appropriate skills and knowledge.
- Free additional sailing – Every membership level has a free usage allocation over and above their guaranteed time allocation. Whilst not guaranteed, this works because we only sell up to a max of 8 weeks in every 9 week booking rotation, plus we know that members tend not to use all of their annual allocation of 42 days per year (Anytime membership). A “charter” style company would sell this time to someone else. We don’t, we keep this available time for your free use and it is part of your exclusive use of your boat. We call it last minute access (LM) and can be booked within 3 days (72 hours) of the start of an available time.
- Booking flexibility - Not only can you book a single day, several days or a whole week (Anytime membership) up to 12 months ahead at any time, you also have the flexibility to start your booking from 18.00, 08.00 or 10.00. From a practical point of view this means that you can pick your boat up at 18.00 the evening before. It also allows you to make an early 08.00 start to your day sailing, or if overnighting to leave at a civilised time of 10.00 rather than an early 08.00! Our iCalendar also splits the “24hr day” into a day sail and a night sail. Therefore you could pop down for a few hours in the evening and still have a full day sail available within a single day (24 hrs) of allocation! By using the time exchange you can extend you bookings to beyond a week.
- Social and training events - It is important to appreciate that these are all booked in “management” time and so when you book onto an event such as the 4-day Channel crossing, none of the boat time comes out of your personal boat use allocation and is additional free sailing, just as if you were sailing with another member at their invitation. We then only seek to cover the costs of the event. The 4-day cross Channel event is usually around £175 per person, which includes berthing fees, fuel, boat cleaning, 2 instructors over 6 boats and a £50 four course dinner with good quality wine. By comparison the commercial charge would be around £450 per person!
- FlexiCrew - Accessed through the iCalendar are our FlexiCrew. This is a small database of FlexiCrew members ready to help you pull the ropes, or a source of more experienced skippers who can help and advise. This means getting you out on the water when you would not otherwise be able to muster the crew or personally have the experience that you need. Best of all FlexiCrew are free!
- Fleet status - At the click of the mouse you can see all our fleet, which boats are out and who is sailing them with a contact number. This is just another fun way that we help members to meet and socialise.
- Email reminders - Reminders are sent to you a few days before your booked dates, so that you never miss a sail, or should you wish to cancel you can do so easily without penalty. However, you know that unless you cancel, the booking(s) are confirmed.
Analysis of the iCalendar bookings over the years has shown that the ‘average’ boat share member will only use about 65% of their guaranteed time, which leaves some 14 unbooked days per member per year on their boat. Taking this into account a full boat of 8 members (including the owner) equates to 112 days not booked. The 9th unsold “management” week adds a further 56 days, giving a total of 178 days a year which is available to our members free of charge. This is what gives our members true boat share flexibility and adds immense value.
Typical member usage equates to significantly more use than 90% of private owners, who also spend up to 50% of their usage time dealing with repairs and maintenance. Private owners therefore sail for half of the time that our members do and have the privilege of the ownership costs of around 4 times a member membership!
Here are some of the frequent questions we get asked about our iCalendar:
“Can I book a full weekend?”
Yes, you can book a full weekend in each of your 2 month booking periods, and up to 12 months ahead. In fact, many members that have a distance to travel will book from 1800 hrs on Friday and come down after work, enjoy a full weekend sailing and then depart at 18.00 hrs on the Sunday evening. This is still only using 2 days of your allocation. Unused additional weekends can be picked up using our free “Last Minute” (within 72 hrs) facility. Only Midweek memberships are excluded from weekend sailing.
“We know that competitors’ booking systems typically require you to book a 24 hour period which is not very flexible. How do you deal with this in the iCalendar?”
Our iCalendar facilitates a start time of 08.00, 10.00 or 18.00 hrs. You choose the best time for you. Our “24 hr day” separately controls the day time booking from the night time booking. This allows you to make just a day time, or a night time, or a full day (24 hrs) booking. If you take a day sail, the night sail remains in your allocation to be used at another time during the same booking rotation. This flexibility allows you to make better use of your sailing allocation and therefore achieve better value, even before you make use of your free last minute (within 72 hrs) allocation. The typical use of this is to book from the night before to miss the traffic and to give an earlier start the following day than would otherwise be possible.
“How long can we take the boat away for in a single booking?”
An “Anytime” membership allows you to book a complete week up to a max of 12 months ahead. By using “time exchange ” this can be increased to a maximum of 2 weeks in total. In reality we find it very unusual for the boat to be taken more than 4 or 5 days at a time, and generally it is the larger boats that are booked for the longer periods. One of the reasons for this is that when you are sailing all year round, there are other competing activities that also want a look in!
Our well attended social events have facilitated many members meeting each other and subsequently sailing together regularly, sometimes changing boats to share the same boat. If two members are sailing together they have doubled their access to the boat, creating greater flexibility, more sailing in each booking rotation, and often have more fun!
When you meet us we will show you the ‘live’ working iCalendar for the boats so that you can see the actual current bookings on a particular boat. You will be able to see for yourself how innovative, fair, and important the iCalendar is to a successful boat share. We are always happy to arrange for you to speak to, and/or meet existing members so that you can hear first hand how the iCalendar booking system works in the real world as they are using it on a daily basis. Our regular open days are often a good time to meet existing members as we usually have one or more helping on the day.