While technology is starting to play a vital role in many other sectors of the superyacht industry, the task of booking a berth has always been left to basic methods. But that might be about to change with the launch of LuxBerths.
Think Booking.com for superyachts: the founders describe the online platform as an advanced booking system for superyachts that provides a comprehensive database of marinas for yacht operators to search, select and book from.
As well as providing convenient booking options, LuxBerths will aim to offer captains up-to-date information on availability at individual marinas, destination features and tools to simplify the arrival process, so that boat documentation can easily be transferred to the marina prior to arrival. This is a solution to a problem that was highlighted in a recent article on SuperyachtNews.
Launched at the Thailand Yacht Show in December, the site is currently in the sign up phase as the team works with the marinas to ensure their information and imagery is accurate and up to date. The full functionality and actual booking tools for the site will be live towards end of January, with an application launch scheduled for April.
“The superyacht industry has been growing globally for many years and we believe that in terms of communications there is an opportunity for an upgrade in connectivity,” explains CEO James Wickens. “The LuxBerths platform provides a unique gateway for captains and owners to simply compare marinas plus book berths seamlessly online while saving money on more traditional booking options.
“As marinas develop and become more sophisticated, not only in how they operate but also via their marketing programmes, there is a distinct need for an online, user-friendly platform that delivers convenience with a wealth of information.”
One of the first to sign up to the platform is the Aseanarean Bluewater Alliance (ABA), a group of 13 marinas in Asia including Raffles Marina, Ocean Marina Yacht Club and Phuket Boat Lagoon.
Wickens adds that feedback from marinas in Asia and the Middle East about the project is positive. “Most marina are keen to increase their visibility,” says Wickens, who hopes that the site will initially be used as a fact finding place for captains who are heading to a region they are unfamiliar with.
While LuxBerths is initially focusing on marinas in Asia, due to the timing of the cruising seasons and the company’s established base and relationships there, the end view is for LuxBerths to have global reach, which means taking on the Mediterranean.
“The Med is the ultimate target and presents the biggest hurdle for us,” explains Wickens. “In many ways the Med is more old school and we recognise that, but we hope that traditional behaviour will change as, like with the hotel industry, everything is moving online. We don’t expect anything to happen overnight, but we want to be in the right place at the right time when it does.
“Our main challenge is going to be changing the behaviour of captains: many have their preferred agents to make marina bookings for them, so we need to show that online booking is cheaper and more efficient. The other challenge will be with the live element of the portal, which will mean convincing the marinas that it is in their interest to show their real-time availability. In the end it is about giving the captains and marinas more control.”
With berth shortage, booking inefficiency and corruption common complaints in the marina sector, LuxBerths has the opportunity to solve a number of pain points for both superyacht captains and marinas by improving on the current outdated model.