At every turn the superyacht industry clambers to attract the attention of superyacht owners and, more importantly, potential superyacht owners. So much so that, at times, the industry can lose sight of what is most important to the ownership experience – namely enjoyment and relaxation.
Everybody understands that owners are at the top of the superyachting commercial pyramid, they are the single factor on which the entire industry relies. Owners have the purchasing, decision-making power and the power to make or break reputations with a single word. If you ask a shipyard what their most effective marketing consists of, word of mouth is usually near the top of the list – if not the top.
Consequently, as an industry – I include every sector in this – we are constantly seeking the approval, recognition and attention of superyacht owners. Like a child desperately trying to impress a parent that keeps them at an arm’s-length, we end up using everything at our disposal to try and keep owners informed, engaged and onside. But, in all honesty, I highly doubt we do ourselves any favours.
I heard a manager say, not verbatim, that owners have a responsibility to stay, at least partially, abreast of regulatory and legal changes. I could not disagree more. There will always be owners, mostly on sailing yachts, that are eager to understand all things yachting, but for the most part owners want their experience to complication free and enjoyable.
“We need transparency for owners,” I hear the industry cry. To a certain extent this is correct; when owners want information, it should be presented to them on a silver platter with all the trimmings and a smile. This, however, does not mean overly inform owners about every facet of yachting.
To take an everyday example. Who do employers – because this is what owners are – prefer, the employee that comes to them with every issue asking for permission and help, or the employee that uses initiative to fix a problem without their hand being held? Assuming you agree with me that it is usually the latter, the same should be the case with the ownership experience and that this is why a good captain is worth his/her weight in gold and more.
Our task as an industry is, where possible, to make the ownership experience as smooth and as simple as can be reasonably expected. We shouldn’t be asking for approval, recognition or attention, they dish out enough of that in their everyday enterprises, we should be diligently righting our wrongs with little more than a whisper, all the while ensuring that when we are asked a question, we have the answers. The owner’s only responsibility should be to enjoy their yacht wherever and in whichever way (within legal boundaries) they see fit. Let’s give owners the space they deserve and need to enjoy yachting.