On 4 June, at an exclusive event held on board Matrix Island in St Katherine Docks, Borrow a Boat, the online charter platform, and Ocean Independence, the superyacht brokerage company, announced a partnership called Borrow a Boat Plus. This partnership between a digital charter platform and traditional brokerage house represents the first of its kind for the superyacht market. The hope is that the new partnership will introduce a new generation of charter guests to the many and varied benefits of superyacht charter.
“We’re excited to offer this new range of luxury crewed and catered boats around the world, and through our partnership with Ocean Independence this allows us to help realise our goal of becoming the most inclusive, accessible boating platform worldwide,” comments Matt Ovenden, CEO of Borrow a Boat. “Relying on the experience and wealth of knowledge of Ocean Independence in this market, our customers can now have their ultimate dream vacation on the water, at both ends of the spectrum and all points of the compass!”
In recent years, the brokerage community has come under a great deal of scrutiny because of its apparent unwillingness to adapt to the demands of contemporary consumption habits. In particular, much has been made of the market’s reluctance to digitise its offering by developing web and app-based platforms for superyacht charter. In light of this, a number of alternative platforms, including Ahoy Club and Yotha, have entered the market with models that promise equal service, lower commissions and less white noise.
“Within the superyacht industry, there has been a lot of talk about disruption and the digital world,” explains Toby MacLaurin, head of sales & marketing at Ocean Independence. “This really started our thinking, there was a lot of criticism aimed at traditional brokers, people wanted to know what we were going to do to develop our practices and engage with a new audience. That really combined in our thinking and we did some mystery shopping on the new platforms and what we discovered was that, while their google rankings and digital capture was great, their quality of service, product knowledge and knowledge of their destinations was really lacking.
“We decided that, if we could partner with a company that could give us that digital edge, who knew the technology, then we could marry the two models so that our more traditional quality service, product knowledge and destination knowledge could create something superior to all current models.”
The partnership will see Ocean Independence and Borrow a Boat operate a commission sharing mechanism. According to British Marine’s Futures Customers Project – Report, 18million customers in the UK wanted to go boating in 2018, however only four million ever did. The superyacht market has long since bemoaned its inability to translate the growing number of UHNWIs worldwide into active customers, both Borrow a Boat and Ocean Independence believe that the new partnership will create a system by which they will be able to convert more untapped potential into paying clients.
As the charter market continues to evolve, the introduction of new and varied business models, in conjunction with more traditional practices, will only stand to benefit the market when it comes to developing new custom.
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