BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Captain Frank Becker spends the morning doing some chores on board the Skipper. No charters were scheduled for Tuesday, but because a new advertising brochure is now hitting mailboxes, that could change. "It is very eye catching, very informative. We're hoping to, the main thing is to get more business out of it for now and the long term range," Becker explained.
The industry suffered from Katrina and the recession. Then something else happened, according to charter captain Kenny Barhanovich. "It's been kind of slow since 2010. I think the whole gulf coast, from here all the way down and to the east got a bad rap on this oil spill," Barhanovich recalled.
So how did the idea come about, and how is it funded? Captain Bobby Williams Sr. filled in the details. "The charter board came up with it, because we had some money left over from BP that they sent to us and told us we qualified for it, and that we could get some remaining money and the money is how we came up with that idea."
The direct mail concept is the first time that charter boat captains have ever used such a venture. 20,000 mailouts within a 300 mile radius of Biloxi. So, who are they trying to target? Again, Williams had the answer. "We're targeting people between the ages of 21 and 65 who like the outdoors."
Despite recent hard times, this new campaign has left the captains with a new-found optimism, even long time veterans like Barhanovich. "I'm looking forward to the next few years. Because I've been in it since 1960. Kind of wear yourself out in this business but I still love it."
Several hundred of the brochures have also been placed in every Mississippi welcome center.
In addition, BP also provided funding for three fishing tournaments hosted by the charter boat captains in the past several years. Those tournaments also helped spur more business.