On the first day of the Asia Pacific Superyacht Conference (APSC) Carmen Lau Stratton, managing director and board director at Camper & Nicholsons International discussed how the yachting market needs to alter its perceptions of Asia, in order to fully succeed.
Stratton, who is based in Hong Kong, has previously worked for Benetti and as an owner’s representative, believes that the yachting industry needs to be more flexible to the requests of the clients entering into the market. “In terms of yacht management, I think there is a lot of room to being more open minded, and to listen.” She explains that yachting needs to be more of a dialogue between all the parties involved, rather than ‘traditional’ yachting expectations being placed on new clients, who aren’t necessarily au fait with the yachting world.
There may be an issue with Asian clients being forced to align themselves with the established yachting dogma, but this various between regions in Asia. “In Hong Kong, [clients] tend to be a lot more open-minded and international. So you don’t have to explain what you cannot do; they will know not to smoke when they come on board and – because of the interiors – to try and be careful with red wine,” she explains. Whereas other owners from an Asian background might not understand this. For Stratton, this is where the role of yachting advisors is crucial to assisting those entering into the market. “We try to make sense of all the rules, so we can explain them.”
When asked what is holding back the industry in Asia, Stratton echoes the views of many people in the region. “It’s the infrastructure, the customer is ready to buy. It’s a new product and they are excited by it,” she explains. In her opinion the customers are there but the lack of infrastructure, coupled with a limited understanding of the market, are the main issues that face the industry. “[Asian clients] are entrepreneurs and they are smart, but they also rely on experts. In order to understand the game, they need to be in it. And that’s why they need people like us, to hold their hand and explain to them who are the top brands, where the best destinations are, etc. We are there to to speed up their learning processes.”
Stratton also believes that the market, in order to truly push forward and achieve its goals of creating a yachting hub in Asia must work to lobby the governments and highlight the potential. “The industry really has to push, the government are listening but they have their own pace,” she concludes, “We have to draw their attention to yachting.”
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