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Gulf Craft CEO Talal Nasralla talks marketing

The company aims to become one of the top five shipbuilders in the world by 2025…

Since the company’s inception in 1982, Gulf Craft has grown to become one of the top seven shipyards in the world. The company has seen a rapid growth in the last two decades since the launch of their first 30m plus superyacht in 2001. Now they are looking to expand their horizons with an aim to become one of the top five shipbuilders in the world by 2025.
 
Talal Nasralla, CEO of Gulf Craft explained how, “We have built a strong client base in our home market over the past 40 years, and it continues to grow. In the past few years, we have focused on expanding our geographic reach with the result that today we have customers from across Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US.” Following a ‘Significant spike’ in their order book this year, Gulf Craft are looking to maintain momentum through expanding their product line with new models expected to launch in the coming months.
 
Like many others in the industry, Nasralla opts to divert his attention away from competitors in a bid to focus on the strengths and qualities of Gulf Craft. “I believe it is important to stay focused on your priorities.” Nasralla explained how, “The industry has recorded robust performance this year and there is an aggressive push by several industry players to come to market simultaneously. This can be challenging for the industry. What really matters is how you build on your differentiating strengths. We diligently focus on innovation in both design and production” Although the Gulf Craft brand has gained reputation over the past couple decades, Nasralla believes one thing in particular sets the company apart, “The fact that we have a fully integrated in-house production facility is our exclusive strength and we have put this to good use by ensuring that every vessel at our production facility is designed to the highest standards of quality”.
 
The overall education and boating knowledge of clients in the modern era is proving to far outweigh that of yacht owners in previous decades. This is in part due to the increase in the amount of information that is readily available to wider public. Moreover, the yachting media sector has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of original impressions being gained through the use of social media.
 
“In the past this has been strictly an emotional purchase, but with the ongoing pandemic we find that many people are realizing the practicality associated with yacht ownership.” Nasralla went on to say, “In a time when people are hesitant to be in large crowds and avoiding social interactions, a private yacht is the ideal way to spend time with family and friends while remaining safe and socially distanced. Second-hand sales also boomed during the pandemic, with current data from The Superyacht Agency estimating the average sales price of a Gulf Craft Yacht to be around £4,655,680.

The last 18 months in particular has revolutionised the way the industry markets superyachts, The CEO offered some insight into how it changed their approach, “The pandemic has solidified the need for us to interact with our clients through different avenues and not rely on large scale boat shows to engage with them.  In 2021 we have hosted our own “Virtual Boat Show” where our clients can virtually meet with the Sales Team and have a private tour through the yacht.  We’ve also launched our ongoing “Virtual Showroom.” Nasralla went on to say, “We are lucky here in the UAE as tourism, and the “normal” way of life has opened since last summer, so we have still been able to invite visitors to bespoke private events.  We find that clients are still eager to see our latest products and learn what we’re working on, but in more exclusive interactions.”
 
Last year the company sold two yachts via zoom, and as the industry becomes accustomed to the new virtual buying process, the focus must also shift to the future of what clients will be looking for. “Clients are seeking more bespoke experiences; marketing initiatives will continue to become more audience-specific, and the strategy must be to make every customer outreach more personalised. With trends such as shared fractional ownership and members clubs gaining pace, as well as the younger, digital-savvy generation showing greater interest in yachts, the marketing initiatives must keep pace with their expectations.”
 
In order to keep up with the younger generation the company have begun to adapt their manufacturing process as a ‘strategic imperative’. Nasralla argues that, “Our product range, GRP yachts have significantly better fuel economy than steel counterparts and we continue to focus on electric alternatives to diesel fuel.” Indeed, engineering is a hot topic in the superyacht industry, with some companies such as Sanlorenzo opting to steer clear of hybrid engineering, while others, such as Princess Yachts, stating their intentions to fully adopt all-electric engines as soon as possible. Gulf Craft are attempting to remain ahead of the game by using more energy efficient lighting and fixtures to contribute to more sustainable operations in their shipyard.
 
“The journey from an initial design sketch through to client handover is thrilling to be a part of.  It’s literally watching an idea become a reality.  Every aspect of our vessels is highly personalised and it’s a proud moment to watch our them come to life – from our factory and then on to the sea trials, and off to explore the world.” Nasralla concluded by saying, “I am also inspired daily by our Chairman, Mohammed Alshaali, a passionate boater, who spends hours each day down on the production floor ensuring that every boat meets the high standards he sets for us. His passion for excellence is contagious and can be seen in the eyes of the entire Gulf Craft team.”

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