Nefzi told those present at the Feadship MYS briefing that the shipyard aims to launch new aspects of the Charter Division in the early part of 2014. He explained that when it comes to charter, "the aim has to be to offer the right services" and that as well as exclusively offering Feadships, the division will "create an experience" by suggesting the right destinations, itinerary and program. "We want to evolve from simply offering a yacht to offering a complete yachting experience,” he said.
Initially launched in 2008 and based at its Fort Lauderdale office, Feadship’s charter service, aims to make the most of its extensive network and knowledge of the market in order to provide a greater chartering experience and better access to Feadship yachts. The Dutch yard believes that while many of its owners choose to keep their Feadship private, on the rare occasion they should decide to explore this option, its Charter Division will be the first and potentially the only one to know about it. However, the team is not concerned about sharing clients who come to them wanting to charter a particular Feadship they don't manage.
“If we are not the central agent for a particular Feadship then we will take our client to a Feadship even if it is not one we have listed,” explained director Karlene Pack, who works alongside Feadship America director Tim Hamilton. Pack explained that through their “private select charter” — where they are able to arrange a charter on board a Feadship not listed in the wider market — they are able to provide clients with the opportunity to experience a Feadship which other brokerages can't access. It is an exclusive service that existing Feadship clients can benefit from.
Although initially launched under the radar, the recent announcement of additional investment into the division is a sign of the shipyard’s aim to expand and to open its doors to other Feadships in the market. While the majority of charters arranged by the division are on private yachts, Feadship is not shying away from opportunities to add to its books, which current includes 39m Go, launched in 2010.
When questioned about how existing brokerage houses might react to the investment in the service, Nefzi made it clear that the goal was simply to enhance yachting for their clients. He was also clear to point out that the division would continue to focus on charter only and that there are no plans for Feadship to venture into the sale or purchase of existing Feadship vessels.
“I can’t think of any reasons why this new service would be of a direct threat to existing brokerage houses,” said Nefzi. “Most of the Feadship yachts that are available for charter have a central agency and they would be more than happy if we were to come to them with a retail customer that wants to charter a Feadship for a week. We are simply trying to create a greater focus on service and to hopefully provide access to customers that they don’t know. There are some yachts under our own management but that coincides with all the others in the market.”
Not surprisingly, one broker with Feadships on his books, who wished to remain anonymous, was less than welcoming of Feadship's new investment.
“It is a well known fact that a good percentage of the buyers involved in yacht sales are ex-charterers,” said the broker. “So anything that takes charters away from our office is taking potential purchase and management clients away. We can’t complain about competition, as the market is open to anyone but we won’t welcome it and won’t pretend to. I can’t see how anyone could uphold the argument that setting up a charter brokerage for Feadships is not going into direct competition with other charter brokerage houses.”
For owners and clients though, Feadship's charter service can only be a welcome addition to the brokerage world. As the builder of some of the most private yachts for some of the world's most notoriously secretive owners, the opportunity to have access to and charter vessels that may not otherwise be available can only be a good thing.