Fishing Guides Hit Hard By Online Booking Option
Sometimes technology can create a bigger problem than a solution. This seems to be the case with what is happening to the coastal fishing guides and charter captains along the east coast and beyond. It began a few years back when online charter booking services started to appear. At first, this seemed like a great opportunity for the mostly one-man fishing professionals. The services offer a high online presence and acted as a booking agent for the guides for what was then a moderate fee for the trips booked. While most guides and charter captains maintain websites and made frequent posts on social media sites, the new booking sites brought additional business with little effort from the captains.
The primary player in this field is FishingBooker, located in Belgrade Serbia, and founded ten years ago. The company promotes that its service allows for comparison of charter options and pricing. It’s online only and offers no human contact, no phone communication or texting. It touts itself as the largest of its type in the world, and it probably is.
While the service had many perks, in recent years FishingBooker has, in some respects, changed the way charter patrons seek and secure their fishing trips. They have a strong internet presence with little or no real competition. Now comes the problem. In recent years the service raised its rate structure which posed a significant piece of many of the guide’s profits. Many guides placed a large part of their marketing on the FishingBooker program, and the growing commissions became almost unbearable. And to compound the problem, guides could not effectively compete with FishingBooker’s overwhelming online presence that listed many, if not all of the area competitors. Increasing fuel prices and other factors have resulted in a hard-hit for many in the charter fishing industry.
Today, options are limited for those that make a living as a fishing guide or charter captain. It’s even harder for those that are new to the industry and have not yet been able to build a significant customer base like some more established guides. It’s one of those issues that is a double edged sword and seems to have no good solutions. While I’m sure that a portion of the charter fishing industry both depend on and enjoy being a part of the FishingBooker program, others find it to be a monopoly, and FishingBooker is taking advantage of the situation.
The fishing guides and charter captains are the backbone of recreational fishing. It’s the place where many anglers found their love of fishing. It’s the place where many learned the art of things from casting to the safe release of the fish. They are the foundation of the sport of saltwater fishing. We at Saltwater Angler online magazine hope this great resource can overcome this challenge. In time, I’m sure they will.