In today’s digital age, the force of marketing products online via social media is significant and its influence is leaking into the world of superyachts. While the industry as a whole has been trying to reinvigorate its marketing strategy and attract new clientele for some time now, for individual superyachts seeking to generate revenue from charters, promoting their services through digital marketing is the new trend, with a handful of yachts spearheading the way. TSO speaks to charter professionals about the concept and its suitability for superyachts.
A quick browse on the Internet will show you that as an industry we seem to be lacking in the digital marketing department compared to any other travel industry. The vast majority of the superyachts in the charter fleet do not have their own website, let alone an up-to-date one, and only a handful have any sort of social media presence. If you were looking for luxury hotels with out-dated websites or no online presence, would you be convinced? Gradually, the superyacht industry is sitting up and taking notice of the power of digital marketing and its ability to brand a yacht and give it a unique personality – one that is defined by the crew, the atmosphere on board and the experiences it can offer.
One of the most well-known figures in the new generation of the superyacht ‘Twitterati’ is Captain Carl Sputh of motoryacht Starfire, who places a great importance on his own role in promoting charters on the yacht, and does so by being active on social media. “As a
captain my role involves more than just being able to safely dock Starfire in the harbour,” he explains. “In fact, one could say that a superyacht is a boutique luxury hotel where the captain is the hotel manager. To be able to provide the best level of service to my guests, I need to be a leader in my community – the luxury industry. I want to show that Starfire is more than just another superyacht; it’s a luxury lifestyle experience that goes beyond the seven-day charter.”
Captain Jonathan Chell of motoryacht Firecracker is in agreement with these goals. “I’ve been using Twitter with the aim of generating interest for the charter side of the operation,” he concurs. “I tweet lots of photos of all the operations of the yacht, including the service, maintenance, day-to-day operations and, most importantly, the food. I think it adds to the many other ways of marketing and keeping the yacht up to date and current with modern methods. Most importantly it provides exposure and best of all it’s free. It shows the mindset and is an insight into the personality of the crew, and hopefully puts us in front of like-minded potential clients.”
New to the charter market this year is sailing yacht Dunia Baru, whose owner has gone to the extra lengths of enlisting a digital marketing expert to promote the boat. “Dunia Baru is a very new superyacht and so the marketing strategy has been quite aggressive in trying to get her name out there,” says Narina Exelby, who heads up the operation. “Social media has been a fantastic way to do this because it allows us to target an audience whose interests are in line with what Dunia Baru offers, but who might not have considered chartering a superyacht before. We try to create awareness and conversations about the destinations in which we sail and to pique interest by showcasing beautiful images and interesting stories about these areas. The main aim with Twitter and Facebook is to drive people to our blog, which is where we post fresh content about the areas in which Dunia Baru sails.”
Since launching Starfire into the digital age, Captain Sputh has received only positive feedback from charter guests, brokers and industry leaders. “I have received numerous invitations for interviews and I can only see more opportunities coming forward,” he asserts. “By building relationships with key bloggers on social media I have been able to get Starfire featured in dozens of articles, getting more media exposure than in any previous year. I have also reinforced my business relationship with brokers who use digital marketing as a way to build their expertise in yachting. I feel like I am now part of the team instead of just waiting on the sidelines hoping for something to happen.”
With these social media-savvy yachts a minority and the rest of the superyacht industry considerably lagging behind in the digital marketing department, how can the rest of the sector become more active in a responsible way? “There are huge improvements to be made in the way the industry uses social media; however, I can appreciate that the industry also operates behind closed doors for the obvious of reasons of security, discretion and privacy,” says Captain Chell. “Regarding how, the options are endless, but I feel that interacting and showcasing the options can only be a positive thing. We can introduce potential clients, like-minded crewmembers, new crewmembers who are not yet aware of the industry and non-industry designers and manufacturers that could cross over.”
“If you pay attention, you instantly notice that the superyacht industry as a whole is way behind other luxury industries in terms of digital marketing and social media,” concludes Captain Sputh. “Instead of waiting to cross paths at sea, in harbour or at a boat show once or twice a year, we should all build a strong digital community to make the industry even better than it already is. All the tools for better communication have been invented; it is now up to us to take advantage of them.”
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