Power index: Fleet managers
Prolific individuals within the management sector offer their thoughts on the future of the superyacht market…
Growing vessel sizes, more regulations and complex ownership structures have seen the rise of, and in some cases the necessity for, management companies. Here, we ask a number of the market’s professionals the key question: 'Looking to the future, do you think the industry will be in a better or worse place than it is now?'
AJ Anderson – Wright Maritime Group
Setting aside external influences, including potential economic downturns, the industry will be in a better place in 2022 than today in similar ways as it is better today than three years ago – provided that we continue to create and operate under sustainable practices. Sustainable practices include higher standards of business practice; professional mentoring, education and career-development opportunities. In other words, reinvesting in our industry organisations, businesses and people. Doing those things will cause the employees of companies and organisations to lift their game; to do a better job – improving the ‘bottom line’.
The reason the trajectory of our industry is on a positive slant is partially due to these professional practices but also because of greater investment in global-sustainability initiatives that include industry people helping in human causes, natural disasters and environmental activities. Work can be a great business and career experience. Work can also be amazingly fulfilling in the living experience. That is the real ‘bottom line’.
Barry Gilmour – Royale Oceanic
In the words of Heraclitis, “The only thing that is constant is change”, and this is particularly relevant to the superyacht industry. We expect the most significant changes to occur in areas of the environment, green energy, technological advances and legislation. We need to ensure that the industry is populated with appropriately qualified people and expertise to provide confidence to legislators and owners alike. We have seen some consolidation and we expect this trend will continue. From a design perspective, we expect a return to style as opposed to glitz. We believe that things can only get better in the next three years.
Nick Hill – Hill Robinson Yacht Management
I think it will be in a much better place. Firstly, crewing has dramatically improved in terms of the quality of crew and the professionalism of the sector and will be even better in three years’ time. Secondly, pollution is on centre stage at the moment and, by 2022, I think there will be more hybrid vessels being build and more ways for the industry to reduce its environmental impact.
Peter Hürzeler – Ocean Independence
We have to acknowledge that the industry is in a pretty good place as it is, in spite of ever-increasing regulation and compliance challenges and, of course, fierce competition with digital as well as real operators. Furthermore, if you trust The Wealth Report, one can be optimistic that the superyacht industry will stay healthy. The number of prospective clients interested and able to enjoy this incomparable lifestyle grows from year to year.
By 2022, we will have 60,000 people with assets of more than $50 million in the US, nearly 50,000 in Europe and 55,000 in Asia. These are all potential customers who could buy substantial yachts or charter regularly. If we, as an industry, constantly push the image of the superyachting lifestyle, and if we are able to maintain a good balance between regulations and customer enjoyment, we will continue gaining charter clients and buyers in the long term.
Andrey Lomakin (pictured in main image) – West Nautical
I anticipate that the superyacht industry will be in a better place by 2022. We are already seeing new-build spots diminish, which will hopefully refresh inventory in the coming years, in particular at the larger end of the market. Even if current buyer confidence becomes cautious for a time due to the US presidential election in 2020, ongoing international trade disputes or geographical unrest, we must remain hopeful that the world will be more stable, both socially and economically, by 2022.
James Ludden – 3 Yacht Management
A surge in new-build sales over the past two years shows the optimism within the industry. However, for continued development and improvement, there are areas to address. Firstly, the lack of a professional body, not just for protection against regulation but also for transparency and improvement throughout all sectors. In management, we need an industry standard, a better structure of management that is universal so owners can compare service levels from a baseline.
Safety can still be improved, but not by paper procedures. With a new generation of captains and crew who have always operated with ISM and ISPS, we expect to see ingrained safety culture on board all yachts. It is the right culture that maintains the superyacht experience for guests, but also improves safety and increases efficiency of administration.
Technology will also make a difference. There is a new breed in yachting – the millennial – who are trying to push the boundaries of efficiency. Advances in blockchain technology will streamline so many functions throughout the industry, such as crew certification, so investing in these new platforms now is essential.
James McMaster – McMaster Yachts
The superyacht industry faces some very significant challenges in the coming years, and of course its overall health is largely reliant on outside factors, including the world economy and the political climate. In the sailing-yacht world, we must act to develop a product that is attractive to the next generation of owners and seductive to buyers from the new emerging markets. In response to this, I predict the growth of semi- custom designs that should be more affordable and offer reduced delivery lead times.
I cannot see the regulatory burden being reduced at all but yacht owners will become more accepting of operating within this framework. I am hopeful that the yacht charter market will go from strength to strength because it is an essential conduit for new business. It might be that the existing charter and sales commission structures come under increasing pressure with the introduction of new platforms, but there will always be opportunities for the best brokers.
Julia Stewart – Imperial Yachts
Yachting is a dynamic industry, constantly developing and embracing new technologies. This is why the need for professional yacht management will make our industry much more professional in the next few years: managing a superyacht is a complex task that requires trained and skilled specialists. Plus, the trends are for yachts with higher volume, efficient layouts and a highly detailed interior. All recent deliveries show that vessels above 70m have improved standards over the past seven to eight years, and it automatically increases the complexity of legal and compliance regimes. This is the reason we created our own in-house legal development.
Peter Wilson – MCM Newport
Innovative design that is unconstrained by yachting convention, efficient building processes, fascinating superyacht destinations, transparency for owners, a wider choice of highend marinas and resorts and a united mission to actively protect and contribute towards cleaner oceans will all contribute to a better industry by 2022. On so many levels, there will be broad-based improvements to the product (the yacht) and to the experience of yachting.
Simultaneous with advances in construction, efficiency, communications, security and lower emissions, the whole superyacht lifestyle will be about sharing adventures with family and friends, with the focus being on the health and well-being of those on board and the environment in which they cruise.
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