Residents have long known that deep-sea fishing – one of the main outdoor activities in Punta Cana. The rest of the world was aware of this, but in the last few years, the situation has changed with dizzying speed.
Now, not only tropical beaches, world-class golf course and luxury facilities attract tourists: fishing at the Cape can be compared with any of them. An important factor in the development of the local fishing industry charter is the Internet revolution.
On the other hand, consumers have been buying their sneakers, books and plane tickets over the Internet for a long time now, anglers looking to book their fishing charter did not have good websites to compare and book them.
It would seem that quite recently, but now they cannot be counted.
One of these platforms for online booking fishing trips, FishingBooker, made Punta Cana special focus of attention. They operate nearly 50 charter boats in Punta Cana, and data has recently been released that shows how the digitalization of booking services is impacting charter fishing in Dominican Republic.
In 2015, 12 captains in Punta Cana received 55 warnings and earned $ 52,000 from it. A year later, that figure more than tripled to nearly 200 orders worth $ 159,000 for 20 captains. In 2017, amount doubled again to over $ 300,000 after 400 bookings. 30 captains made a profit.
For many captain’s inflow of orders received through the online platform brings significant benefits to their business. Specifically, Captain Anthony Perez, who operates his Atlantida Punta Cana charters from Cap Cana harbor, was the first captain in Dominican Republic who used online booking platforms. He says: “When I started working with FishingBooker in 2014, I had one boat. Now we have five boats in our fleet”.
Another captain, who has worked with booking sites for several years, Eustace of Fortune Big Marlin Charters, believes that success of online booking is its ability to make physical distance irrelevant. “This makes the search for charter fishing easier than it was before. Anyone who wants to go fishing anywhere in the world, simply enter a fishing charter and your city, and you will find good options. They have great advertising.”
In fact, data shows that vast majority of anglers in Punta Cana come from the United States – a hefty 95% of all orders. In addition, more than half of bookings were made more than during a week, which indicates that the reservation site simplifies planning itinerary. Now you can book fishing trips as well as you book a hotel.
Moreover, the Dominicans did not make any reservations. Canadians were in second place, but with only 2%, followed by the UK with 1%. The heatmap below shows that the lion’s share of anglers came from major US cities such as New York (3%), Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Minneapolis-St. Paul (all 2%).
According to Captain Anthony, the fact that online booking sites are reaching a global audience is why business for Dominican captains has grown so much: “Punta Cana is one of the best places in the world for white and blue marlin, and FishingBooker put us on the map. Before, people did not know that we have such good fishing here. The websites have all the tools – reviews, images, reports – to show people how good the fishing is here. They didn’t just promote my business, they promoted Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic, now considered one of the best fishing spots in the Caribbean. More and more people come fishing in the Dominican Republic.”
Captain Anthony also believes that the charter fishing industry has modernized over the past few years as a result of new customers attracted by booking sites. “Everyone who comes is an unforgettable experience and we try to do our best in terms of quality and service. We have to compete on quality and service, and the quality has increased significantly.”
And he’s not the only one who likes to attract more customers from online booking sites. Captain Edgar Acre of Tease Me Fishing Charters actually prefers these customers: “They really want to go fishing, this is not your regular customer who is in the hotel and just wants to do something and then complains. Usually these are people looking for a better option than a hotel.”
Originally, Captain Edgar did not think that working with online booking sites would be useful to him. He started last September just to give it a try, and he doesn’t regret his decision. “Someone told me about it before, but I didn’t think it was that great. But it’s cool. ” In December and January, more than half of all his trips were booked through online platforms.
For captains who took the digital side early, such as Anthony and Eustace, the success of online booking sites also has its drawbacks. Captain Anthony notes that almost all boats in Punta Cana now use these services, which means less business for him personally compared to when he started. He is also concerned about the quality of some boats and charters offers cheaper travel, as improved quality is one of the main benefits of online booking revolution. At the same time, he realizes that everyone wants a piece of pie: “It’s just business.”