Carlo Benveduti, COO of Yotha
When Yotha - the new yacht digital charter platform – fully launched early this year, we kept facing one reoccurring question: did we really believe we could threaten the established brokers, after so many years of tradition in the market?
Our vision, from conception, has been to make chartering faster, cheaper and more straightforward, as a means of expanding the market and attracting a new generation of charterers. But the belief that this can only be done so at the expense of the traditional brokers is misguided.
Our model works very simply: we enable charters to not only book all aspects of the charter experience through the digital platform (either online or via the app), but to also liaise directly with owners and central agents to negotiate and agree on the charter rate. By doing so, we work with charterers, owners, captains and brokers, not against them.
Unlike other platforms who simply upload generic databases of yachts, we specifically receive instruction and authorisation from the owner or central agent for a vessel to be listed as available on our platform. Once this vessel is chartered, we handle the charter payment, compliance and documentation and provide the central agent with their commission.
We are therefore working to not only increase opportunities to charter a vessel (thereby ensuring greater revenue for both the owner and the central agent) but by handling the payment, contract, compliance and documentation we are also helping to save the central agent time with much of the administration and process typically involved.
We know that the yacht charter industry has failed to keep pace with global tech developments, which has impacted delivery and service.
Furthermore, in recent years the regulation and restriction around handling third party funds has got much tighter, and many brokers are having to adapt to ensure they are fully compliant with the law. Money cannot be collected from third parties (the client) and redistributed (to the owner) by a broker unless they are recognised as an official financial intermediary.
By having a financial intermediary authorisation from the Swiss authorities and undertaking full compliance checks, we are also able to handle funds on behalf of the central agent – thereby again reducing everyone’s burden and ensuring full compliance and transparency.
This drive to introduce greater market efficiency is driven by a growing realisation that the industry is in desperate need of modernisation and change. We know that the yacht charter industry has failed to keep pace with global tech developments, which has impacted delivery and service.
We know that a new generation of young charterers want to be able to undertake the whole charter process – from searching for a yacht to having agreed on the terms of the charter and signed the contract – in one go, and from one seamless, digital portal.
We also know that yacht owners themselves are frustrated by the commission rates traditionally charged. This is why we are working in the direction of reducing the commission charged to the owners (reducing it on average from 15% to 8%), with three main goals: enabling owners to reinvest more money into their yachts to keep them in the best condition possible, granting them a wider range of negotiation, and, therefore, possibly providing charterers better prices on the market.
In all the areas of the market we are working to simplify and make more efficient, we are doing so as a service provider, not a competitor. We are working to partner with and compliment, not replace, the traditional market players.
We are addressing, and looking to reform, a very traditional approach to the charter business. For many years chartering has been undertaken with a physical paper contract. This is the format that everyone is used to, and how the industry has always operated. But by capitalising upon new developments in technology, the whole industry – digital platforms, brokers, owners and captains – can work together to make the process cheaper and fairer for all.
If you like reading our Editors' premium quality journalism on SuperyachtNews.com, you'll love their amazing and insightful opinions and comments in The Superyacht Report. If you’ve never read it, click here to request a sample copy - it's 'A Report Worth Reading'. If you know how good it is, click here to subscribe - it's 'A Report Worth Paying For'.