Consolidate then grow
Acquera Group’s new COO, John Shinske, discusses the agency group’s strategy…
Acquera Group’s new COO, John Shinske, discusses the agency group’s strategy with a particular focus on the need for yacht agencies to improve their levels of transparency and the benefits to both the business and the buyer of having a global footprint.
“We currently have 20 offices in nine countries,as we have just opened up two new offices in Barcelona and Palma, and one in Ibiza is to follow shortly,” starts John Shinske, COO of Acquera Group. “The hope, with my addition to the team, is to have someone with experience from both sides of the equation, having previously worked as a superyacht captain and founded an agency. This experience allows me to understand the problem that exists within agency from both sides.”
Shinske correctly points out that superyacht agents are not exactly a rarity in today’s market, with the operation sizes varying from one-man bands, to local and international enterprises.
“One of the key differences is that Acquera intends to be global and bring a level of clarity and transparency to superyacht agency worldwide,” continues Shinske. “It is a bit of a cliché to talk about transparency, but it is not just a case of wanting to be transparent, we have to be transparent if we want to retain and grow our pool of clients. There is so much information available today, that anything other than transparency should not be accepted.”
Indeed, according to Shinske, Acquera is in the process of developing a system that will allow owners, operators and managers to view the entire cost breakdown of agency services before they enter a marina or purchase a particular service.
“Users will be able to go into the system, add some vessel details, a location and the dates that they will be staying for and the system will tell them how much the trip is going to cost,” says Shinske. “In the past, I have seen mark-ups of 100 per cent for services just because the service is going to be provided to a superyacht, those days are over.”
The other major development that is ongoing at Acquera is the continuation of its aggressive growth strategy.
“From a yacht agent’s perspective, if you only have a presence in one country then you will always be missing opportunities. In order to try and keep wealth within the business you need to be able to make the clients happy wherever they are,” explains Shinske.” We have spread throughout Europe, but we are still a young company and there is still a lot of growth ahead of us. Over the next two or three years, the plan is to consolidate in Europe before looking to expand to the US, Caribbean and beyond.”
Shinske alludes to the possibility of expanding to a variety of locations, some established and others greener, but he is quick to point out the various challenges and limiting factors associated with certain locations, regardless of how attractive they may seem as a superyacht location. Take Scandinavia, for instance, few would deny that as a superyacht cruising region it is growing in popularity, but the seasons themselves are incredibly short. How then, could a business like Acquera, validate opening a year-round office in a location that only has six-to-eight cruising weeks?
“Limiting factors can vary from location to location, be it cruising weeks, local qualified experts, access to supplies and everything in between. While having a presence everywhere is unfeasible, what we will be able to achieve through our expansion is greater control, more transparency globally and a uniform process for the buyer,” comments Shinske. “In the short-term, however, consolidation Europe is our priority.”
The creation of a truly global premium service network will remain one of the superyacht industry’s most pressing challenges as it looks to become the almost limitless industry that it has promised buyers. While still in the early stages of its growth strategy, Acquera Group hopes to contribute to the global service network.
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