The documentation of experiences on board superyachts have, historically, been through either the long-range lense of a paparazzi camera or within the pages a glossy charter brochure. Notoriously private and resistant to change, it’s only within the past few years that the rise of social media platforms - such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - have gradually begun to infiltrate the yachting world.
The appearance of yachts on social media has been mostly embraced by vessels on the charter market. Roxanne Hughes, PR & communications manager for Breed Media, agrees there has been a growth of superyachts maintaining an online media presence in order to attract charter clients. “[Owners] see the power and impact that can afford companies within the superyacht industry and as a result, more and more owners, particularly those who wish to capitalise on their potential charter revenue, are requesting social media presence to be part of their marketing campaign,” she says.
Inherently, owners embracing social media cannot be explicated from commercially driven reasons. Social media - mirroring company strategy across the globe - is now seen as an intrinsic way to promote individual yachts and build them as a brand. It’s now not unusual for owners to have dedicated websites, complete with crew profiles and live reports of life on board. As Mark Shores, owner of a 33m sailing yacht explained to me, “Websites and social media provide a more real-time way of relaying what is going on in the life of Marae.”
Searching the term ‘yacht’ on Instagram produces over two million results, which indicates this photo-based sharing platform can also be a way to attract new owners (and superyacht enthusiasts) into the market. By promoting the yachting lifestyle, be it water sports, exploratory trips to far-flung destinations or scuba diving, the full breadth of the industry can be chronicled. “I think it’s great that so many experiences are documented and shared – it can only help in opening up the superyacht world to new charter clients and potential owners,” adds Hughes.
Promotion via social media will not wholly replace the role of charter brokers, and the majority of users of social media will not be the clients that usually charter vessels, but social media platforms are a powerful tool in raising a company’s profile. In addition to owner’s utilising social media, brokerage houses could adopt marketing techniques found in other industries. A recent trend in the aviation market is to engage with high-profile figures to promote their services. Jet Lux, a private aviation charter company, are a notable example of this, who advertise their services via the social media profiles of celebrities and ‘influencers’ (public figures with a high number of followers across their various accounts).
The social media trend appears to be diametrically opposed to those owners who see their time on board as a private oasis, away from the prying eyes of others. As Hughes notes, “Of course for many UHNWIs, privacy and time are carefully guarded luxuries but that’s still entirely possible to achieve, as long as the wider industry remains respectful of a client’s wishes.” As with many things in the market, each owner and their yacht are individual, therefore it’s impossible to expect social media marketing to be adopted by the whole industry.
These interactive tools should be viewed as a platform to engage with future charter clients, and potentially entice clients back who have left the industry. A small yet important piece of the puzzle, social media if used effectively, will continue to influence (and improve) the marketing of yachts to a global audience.