As is the case for many travel companies at present, luxury expedition company ‘EYOS’ is having to adapt to a new reality. EYOS prides itself on the ability to take clients to the most remote regions on Earth in a safe and splendid manner with the help of a network of travel and marine specialists, so SuperyachtNews spoke exclusively to Ben Lyons – CEO, for updates on the adaption process.
"We're still actively planning trips for next season in Antarctica, and we do have some clients still hoping to travel this summer..." - Ben Lyons, CEO - EYOS
“The world has obviously fundamentally changed from what it was in February. However, work has not stopped at EYOS. We're still actively planning trips for next season in Antarctica, and we do have some clients still hoping to travel this summer,” began Lyons, who is not only CEO of the company but also a captain and travel writer.
“We think there are a few destinations that will be open, and that travel can be done responsibly and safely. In addition, our business is diversified - we use our years of experience in different ways, from consulting to working with shipyards on design.
“We also run some technical expeditions whether it’s for media entities or the current Ring of Fire expedition where mission specialists will be given the first-ever commercial opportunity to dive to the Mariana Trench. So, while business is of course affected and we're adapting, it is not by any stretch of the imagination stopped for us,” Lyons explained.
EYOS still has expedition vessel Pressure Drop (pictured above) out at sea, and the company is planning to operate her all summer. “Keeping those operations going has been a tremendous amount of work, involving working with the local governments to agree on procedures for any changes in personnel for the ship, and also sourcing testing so we can be sure we're operating safely.
“Of course, there is a fundamental drop in demand overall this summer,” continued Lyons, “although, in the last week we've started to get some new enquiries as everyone starts to adjust to the new world we're living in. We've had to cancel trips everywhere from Svalbard to the Kimberly desert to Raja Ampat!"
As a small business, EYOS has been financially conservative and focused on solid business fundamentals. “In fact, because we've grown so quickly over the last six years, we're all commenting that we are actually appreciating the opportunity to have a little more time at the moment to get caught up on work and the behind-the-scenes processes that we've wanted to tackle but never had time to do so,” he added.
“We're also spread out geographically. While we have an office in Seattle, a lot of us work remotely, even in non-pandemic times. If anything, we're now checking in with each other, having more team calls and generally communicating with each other now that we're locked down!
“It has also reminded us of why we do what we do. We all are passionate about the areas we travel, and not being able to reach those destinations reminds us of why they are so special and why we're so eager to go back as soon as everything is lifted."
Asking if there is any truth to speculation that owners and charterers are seeking ’safe havens’, Lyons commented, “Frankly we've seen both. Some clients keen for a summer in the Med, but others keen to get far away from the rest of the world on a charter. Most yacht owners and charterers I have spoken to, however, have just been hunkered down at home.
"We believe the pandemic will certainly drive a renewed interest in remote expeditions and charters. I think there is some fundamental shift that people will take away from the pandemic, and I believe it will partly be this interest in reconnecting with nature..."
“On balance though, we believe the pandemic will certainly drive a renewed interest in remote expeditions and charters. I think there is some fundamental shift that people will take away from the pandemic, and I believe it will partly be this interest in reconnecting with nature".
On this basis, ‘low-traffic’ destinations could well see a record upturn in cruising, with owners having the time to rethink where they want to be and where they want to escape from. “Suddenly, the usual trappings of a city don't seem as appealing or meaningful anymore. Frankly, we often see this when taking clients to some of the most remote locations on Earth - a kind of reset when they are surrounded by the stillness and snow of Antarctica and far removed from their normal existence. Perhaps the pandemic will spur similar thinking?”
From Lyons’ perspective, the coming months will be slow in terms of trips run, and there is no way around this. “It isn't a desire not to travel, it is a question of the uncertainties. I had a client call, who was planning to go to the Arctic this summer, and his issue wasn't knowing if his destination will be open, but will the country he left from, and the countries all his traveling companions left from, be open when he wants to return? Will he have to go into quarantine? And of course, no one can predict that,” explained Lyons, emphasising that until the uncertainty surrounding regulations and quarantine restrictions is resolved, travel will be down drastically, even with clients who usually fly privately.
"Yachting is by its very nature private, so there is a greater ability to rebound right away”
“I think [this incident] will offer some recalibration in people - more of a change in what is important, or what inspires them. I don't believe that the entire industry is going to be fundamentally changed. Yachting is by its very nature private, so there is a greater ability to rebound right away.”
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