A community hub port in west Scotland
Located on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, Tobermory is instantly recognisable from a thousand tourist brochures – brightly painted buildings along the harbour’s edge with mountains in the background. Originally built as a fishing port, tourism is now an important element of the local economy, and the harbour welcomes visiting cruise ships and leisure craft during the summer season.
Tobermory Harbour Association is a statutory harbour authority and community hub port, operating for the benefit of the local community. The Association has invested in facilities, and now provides a marina with 55 berths for leisure and aquaculture vessels, moorings for local boats and visitors and shoreside facilities that include tenanted offices. Around 30-40 cruise ships visit the town every year, anchoring off and ferrying up to 1800 passengers ashore per vessel.
WE LIKE BEST
WHY HARBOUR ASSIST
Tobermory’s customer activities are concentrated in the summer season, and the harbour operated for many years using paper-based systems. As a not-for-profit organisation, it was hard to justify alternatives. Funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise for additional pontoons provided the income to enable the investment in Harbour Assist.
Harbour Manager Rob Macdonald went to Tarbert to see the software in action and talk through the pros and cons with the team. Tarbert Harbour is a slightly bigger operation than Tobermory, but with similar requirements and challenges.
“Our customers expect great service, and thanks to Harbour Assist we’re able to deliver”
IMPLEMENTATION & SUPPORT
The roll-out at Tobermory Harbour was delayed by the national Covid-19 lockdown in spring 2020, with the original March date pushed on to May.
Training took place online with the team splitting into small groups for intensive and role-focused training. “Being able to see the screen and take notes was really helpful,” said Rob Macdonald, Harbour Manager. “Rachel’s experience in the marine industry was a huge benefit as we were able to discuss real-world examples.”
Going live whilst returning to trading after lockdown, adapting to Covid-safe working and welcoming visitors was a steep curve. “We’re really glad we got Harbour Assist when we did, but in an ideal world, I’d recommend getting up-and-running ahead of the season to get all the team used to it,” Rob Macdonald advised. Despite this, a new staffer started in August and without training ‘he learned on the job and picked it up overnight’ according to Rob.
During the first season, the focus has been on managing resident boat owners and handling marina and mooring visitors. Tenant management and fuel sales will be rolled into Harbour Assist over winter 2020.
The harbour team have an excellent reputation for customer service and pride themselves on meeting and greeting each visiting boat. Creating Covid-secure personal service was supported by the ease of sending confirmation emails and texts, taking the card machine onto the pontoon, and using Quick Pay.
“Customers like to talk to us on the phone, and they’re amazed to receive a booking confirmation while they’re still on the line. We’re using Harbour Assist as they’re talking, making the booking and sending the text confirmation in real-time,” explains Rob Macdonald.
Rob is particularly keen on the Task Manager feature, which he uses to plan his day and to handover activities to colleagues. With maintenance the focus of the winter season, the Tobermory team will be listing all mooring chains and pontoon parts in the asset register ready to track maintenance and highlight recurring faults in coming years.
“We’d never have got through this season without Harbour Assist.”