In March of this year, the Red Ensign Group (REG), consisting of the United Kingdom, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, commissioned The Superyacht Group to conduct a research project, the purpose of which was to ascertain the market’s perception of the REG and better appreciate what the superyachting community understood and demanded of the REG in terms of regulation, codes and cooperation.
“We wanted to get a better idea of what the industry thinks we do well and to listen to what they think we can do better as well as trying to quantify any added value in the services we provide including the enhanced asset value of the yacht,” says Joel Walton, CEO of the Cayman Registry.
The project consisted of both quantitative and qualitative research, from on-line surveys to in depth interviews across 15 market segments. The subject matter focussed on the superyacht market’s awareness of the REG, its composition and role, feedback on the REG Yacht Codes (Large Yacht Code-LYC, Passenger Yacht Code-PYC), their application and benefits, and most importantly, areas for improvement in client service. This article will touch on some of the key insights.
The survey revealed that 90 per cent of respondents feel that REG out-performs its competitors on the quality of its Flag and that 70 per cent thought it was better than others on its customer service. There was also high praise for the REG’s global network of yacht specialists. However, some parts of REG were criticised for too much bureaucracy in places.
“It’s reassuring that they agree with what we already believe – that the REG is a quality brand, delivering great customer service. For us, unity has always been strength," explains Dick Welsh, director of the Isle of Man Ship Registry.
Unsurprisingly, industry professionals had strong opinions on both side about the codes and usability. Notably, around two thirds of people who responded to the survey said they worked on LYC or PYC compliant vessels but half of them admitted they didn’t have a good understanding of the codes they were working under. One Captain described them as ‘mind bending’.
Richard Montado, maritime administrator at Gibraltar Yacht Registry says that, "Although many said they had a good working knowledge of their selected code, it’s quite clear that there is a gap in people’s understanding of aspects of it. We need to work with the industry to deal with any perceived lack of clarity."
Requests for more clarity and better communication was a common theme, and many useful suggestions were put forward from industry professionals who want to be kept up to date on matters that affect them.
The answers to questions regarding the composition of REG and the role of Flag did come as a bit of a surprise. Many thought Malta and Marshall Islands were REG members; and whilst most correctly recognised that the primary role of flag was regulating on maritime safety, pollution prevention and crew welfare matters, around 20 per cent incorrectly understood Flag’s role to include providing customs and excise advice or forming ownership structures.
On the whole there was agreement that compliance with the LYC and PYC has a positive impact on the resale value of a vessel. The work currently being done in updating the Codes in conjunction with all stakeholders will ensure that the Codes remain the Industry benchmark whilst accommodating the latest yacht building practises and allowing innovation.
“The insights and recommendations falling out of this research will be an invaluable reference as we take decisions as a group to better serve the industry over the next few years; we thank all the participants who provided informed opinions and suggestions”, Sir Alan Massey, CEO of UK MCA.
REG members were particularly pleased with one comment from the questionnaire, ‘A yacht doesn’t look right without a Red Ensign on the stern’.