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Generating trust

How a unique perspective on digital platforms can yield benefit for superyacht users…

If superyacht marketing materials were to be believed, one could be forgiven for thinking that there was no such thing as a bad superyacht, nor indeed a bad superyacht charter experience. However, those who have sufficient experience know that this is simply not the case. For years now the lack of transparent, open-source and objective reviews for superyachts has been a bone of contention for some market commentators and stakeholders. SuperyachtNews speaks with SamBoat, the online platform for listing and renting boats, about the incorporation of two boating agencies and the importance of building trust through a platform.

In order to add to its online platform model, which has proved itself incredibly effective at servicing the smaller boat rental market, SamBoat has incorporated LateSail from the UK and France’s Vents de Mer into its model to help support its aspirations in the more extensive charter markets, including superyachts. Through this alliance, SamBoat hopes to speed up the onboarding process for more professional fleets onto its platform, which already operates in 76 countries with 45,000 boats on its books from small day boats to large superyachts. Turnover projections are on track to achieve €30million in 2021 and €100million in 2023, with support from its two major investors, PPF and Bénéteau.

The large financial ambitions of digital boating and charter platforms are well known today, with various other businesses operating with great success across both the small boat, yacht and superyacht sectors. While the digital edge and data that these companies bring to the table is undeniable, it has also largely been accepted now that where superyachts are concerned digital platforms are not simply able to step in and oust the market’s renowned brokerage houses. It has already been proved that through strategic partnerships, both traditional brokerage houses and the new digital platforms can benefit from a growing superyacht charter market. However, Laurent Calanda, co-founder of SamBoat, offers an interesting perspective on how these platforms can benefit the consumer.

“We realised early on that where the traditional charter market was concerned, we had a lot to learn and that’s why we decided to integrate LateSail and Vents de Mer, they allowed us to understand the business far quicker. The complexity of the large charters necessitates working with the brokers. However, our platform, more than just through the technology can yield benefits for the client and the customer,” comments Calando. “You have to build trust with customers and, at present, the superyacht world has no means of generating objective feedback, you simply have to trust the agency you are working with. Our platform isn’t just technologically advanced; it is more transparent than the current systems. Brokers and agencies are absolutely essential for the how, where and what, but fair reviewing is essential for building trust.”

Objective reviewing has been a hole in the superyacht experience. Fortunately, the market is moving away from its ‘if you know, you know’ approach to various sectors. It should be said, that the vast majority of superyacht charter experiences are excellent and objective reviewing is just another way to highlight what many of us already know. The only owners or vessels that should be threatened by such a system are those that know they are performing below the accepted industry standard of excellence.

Calando is clear in how he hopes to grow SamBoat’s superyachting presence. He wishes to work with the market’s top brokers and incorporate their central agencies into SamBoat’s platform, with a 50/50 commission-sharing model in place.

“We plan to become big, huge. When we see what we have done in eight years, it is crazy and I believe we can go faster and further with the support of our investors,” continues Calando. “We are going to work with the brokers as partners of the platform. We must work with these experienced professionals to understand the market and if the partnerships work well, it should benefit them in terms of commission and revenue. We want to walk side by side with the brokers as we try and grow this market.”

The superyacht industry has been notoriously opaque and while this is changing organically, digital platforms, when done well, add a new level of transparency to the superyacht charter process, which some potential clients may find appealing. Through its platform SamBoat is hoping to build trust with potential customers and through leveraging relationships with the established superyacht community, hopes to bring new buyers to the table.

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