The industry is continuously chasing ways to introduce new clientele to yachting. While many think the answer to achieving this is through chartering, the focus naturally falls on bringing people into the superyacht (30m-plus) sector. There is a clear division between the superyacht and under 30m charter markets and brokerage houses will often focus on one or the other. West Nautical, however, positions itself in between the two sectors and, as a result, realises the benefits of working with both.
“The under 30m sector is the start of the market; the baseline level for those that are interested in yachting but put off by the price when they don’t completely understand what the experience will be like,” explains West Nautical's managing director Geoff Moore. “It is the perfect way to dip into chartering as it is a step up from self-driving yachts and a step down from a superyacht.”
The smaller 20 to 30m sector of the market is important for West Nautical’s business as it is the go-to size for day charters, and the company often sees a natural progression from day to holiday charters. Once the clients experience this, the hope is that it will encourage them to move up in size.
Moore likens the price of a charter in this sector to the price of a holiday in a luxury hotel or on board a luxury cruise ship. “The price is very reasonable for what it is,” he says. “With €20,000 to €30,000, one can charter a yacht that accommodates six to eight people for a week and split the cost between couples or two small families. This is a much better price compared to a luxury cruise, but with the added freedom and flexibility that a yacht charter provides.”
Considering the potential for crosspollination, is the superyacht industry paying enough attention to this smaller sector? “The charter market is swamped with competition, but it is the top 10 companies that get all the clients, so these companies don’t look after the market under 30m at all,” responds Moore. “So it is up to the central agents of the smaller brokerage houses to put 100 per cent of their effort into this sector. The segment is well serviced, it is just not publicly known.”
Moore adds that there are a high number of clients looking to charter at this level, and the yachts available for charter are usually fully booked. However, there are certain trends that should be acknowledged. “These clients are more financially astute,” he explains. “They don’t want to buy boats but they do want to spend their money on an experience. The initial sell is harder work, but once they experience the sea, the freedom starts to sell itself.”
The educational aspect of selling charters in this size range is also another import factor to consider. As with anyone new to the industry, elements such as what is realistic in terms of itinerary planning or advanced provisioning allowances can be difficult to understand.
Like most businesses, those within the superyacht industry follow the money, so it is understandable that many brokerage houses don’t want to deal with anything below the 40m mark. But perhaps this attitude is short sighted. “The smaller segment is important for the superyacht market as these clients will often dip their toes into yachting and then move up the ladder,” concludes Moore. “Our objective is to focus on these people and build relationships that have the potential to grow.”
Image: 18m SY Relativity, available for charter through West Nautical