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iCalendar Booking System
Fundamental to FlexiSail’s success is our substantial investment in our bespoke online calendar booking programme that ensures that each members’ sailing time is guaranteed, even in high season, and that the boat’s usage is shared fairly between all members.
Without 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, or for those that don’t care what boat they sail, 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 our sophisticated ‘state of the art’ booking system is designed to be flexible and easy to use. The iCalendar also gives a wealth of relevant information including tidal and weather information, statistics, FlexiCrew, and news. It allows you to book on a mobile, PC or Mac, and of course everything is in real time.
The information below shows you how our iCalendar ensures that you have a great experience sailing with FlexiSail.
The key benefits of our iCalendar are:
Depending on the membership type (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 through the main sailing season. However, our total members’ advanced bookings can only add up to a max of 7 weeks of any 9 week period. This leaves some 14 days free in every booking rotation.
Therefore, even at the height of the season your guaranteed allocation of weekdays and weekend days are always available giving you the flexibility to choose from many unbooked additional days, which increases your booking flexibility. Compare this to the competitive nature of the first come basis where nothing is guaranteed. For example, if a 100 members have access to your boat you only have a 1 in 100 chance of getting the boat that you want, on the date that you want, or a 1 in 99 chance for your second choice!
With FlexiSail you are never competing with more than 6 other memberships (‘Anytime Voyagers’ equivalent) that might want the exact same date, and with no one to book your guaranteed allocation within the booking rotation.
To encourage you to plan ahead you have the ability to book up to 12 months in advance. For example, as an Anytime Voyager member you can hold 21 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 allocated bookings you can book more, so that you can constantly maintain up to 21 days of planned sailing in your diary during the 12 months ahead.
We know that by planning ahead 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! Full marinas 350 days a year testify to this! Our members sail more than most private owners simply because they plan ahead.
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 ‘charter’ 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. The ‘charter’ system is rigged against you because if you do plan well ahead and have to cancel you will lose your time and your money. If you don’t plan ahead the consequence will be less sailing as other commitments will have filled your diary.
You are only sharing your boat with a small number of other members, some of whom will become personal friends. The iCalendar allows you to swap time with another member. Sometimes members are away or not able to sail for part of the year. When this happens they can give you their guaranteed allocation and in return you can give them your guaranteed 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.
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 bookings have to be approved through our management system to ensure that you have the appropriate skills and knowledge.
Every membership type 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 7 weeks in every 9 week booking rotation. A ‘charter’ modelled 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 it can be booked within 3 days (72 hours) of the start of an available time. On a typical boat that has one vacant membership, every booking rotation will then have 7 days from the unsold membership, plus your 7 days that you still have to book, as well as 14 days that cannot be booked by any member, plus any time not utilised by the other members on your boat. This will give you a choice of around 28+ days each rotation to find time that suits you! The un-bookable 14 days in each rotation is there for your last minute (within 3 days) free use, social events, and essential boat maintenance.
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 hrs. From a practical point of view this means that you can pick your boat up at 18.00 hrs the evening before. It also allows you to make an early 08.00 hrs start to your day sailing, or if overnighting you can leave at a civilised time of 10.00 hrs rather than an early 08.00 hrs! 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
It is important to appreciate that social events 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. It is additional free sailing, just as if you were sailing with another member at their invitation.
We only cover the costs of the event. For example, the 4-day cross Channel event is under £200 per person, which includes berthing fees, fuel, boat cleaning, one or two instructors over 6-10 boats, and a £40 per person four course dinner with good quality wine. By comparison the commercial charge would be around £450-550 per person!
Here are some of the frequent questions we get asked about our iCalendar:
Yes, with a Weekender or Anytime membership you can book a full weekend in every 2 month booking rotation (8 or 9 weeks), with bookings up to 12 months ahead. In fact, many members that have a distance to travel will book from 1800 hrs the night before 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. Un-booked additional weekend days can be picked up by using your free “Last Minute” (within 72 hrs) facility. Only Midweek memberships are excluded from weekend sailing.
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’ is split into the ‘day’ time booking and 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 time sail, the night time 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 time and therefore you achieve better value, even before you make use of your free last minute (within 72 hrs) allocation. For example you could book from 18.00 hrs on Thursday and depart at 18.00 hrs on Sunday. You will have used just 3 ‘day’ times and 3 ‘night’ times, and therefore the equivalent of 3 days.
An Anytime Voyager membership allows you to book a complete week at a time. By using ‘time exchange’ this could 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! Boat time during socials is in addition to your personal allocation.
When you meet us we will show you the ‘live’ working iCalendar for the boats that you are interested in so that you can see the actual and current bookings. 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. Our regular Fleet Open Days are often a good time to meet existing members as we often have one or more helping on the day.
FlexiCrew are accessed through our iCalendar. FlexiCrew members are good company, ready to help you pull the ropes, and are a source of experienced skippers/sailors who can help and advise. This means you can always get out on the water even when you cannot muster your normal crew. Best of all FlexiCrew are free!
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.
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, unless you cancel the booking(s) remain confirmed.