It has been widely reported that the west coast of Scotland has been added to a European-funded scheme that is aiming to develop the coast of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and now Scotland into a yacht cruising route of international repute. While, for the most part, the project is aimed at the general yachting market, promoting the route as a legitimate superyachting option is also part of the plan.
According to The Cool Route Marketing Strategy (‘the Cool Route’ being the name chosen for the cruising route), “While the Cool Route is not primarily focused on developing superyacht business, there is an enormous amount of “low hanging fruit” within the sector, as these vessels are fast, mainly independent of weather conditions and are very high spending.” The report goes on to explain that “A superyacht costs about €800,000 a week to hire and its weekly expenditures can exceed €250,000.”
There are a number of issues with these opening statements, especially if the Cool Route team is hoping to base a marketing strategy on the data that has formed the basis of them. For a start, a superyacht does not cost about €800,000 a week to hire; some do, but the vast majority do not. Secondly, to describe the opportunities provided by the superyacht market as “low hanging fruit” highlights an incredibly ill-conceived understanding of how the superyacht market operates – that is of course unless they plan to serve this low hanging fruit on a gold platter.
“The project agreed in April 2016 that the superyacht sector represented a significant opportunity for promoting new business opportunities for enterprises on the Cool Route,” continues the strategy report. “There are more superyachts on the order book of shipbuilders’ yards than ever before…An “ordinary” superyacht can easily be valued at over €100 million.”
It is a fact that there are not more superyachts in the order book than ever before and, given that the vast majority of superyachts cost far less than €100 million, one really does need to call into question, the validity of the quality of this research.
The report does, at least, appreciate that superyacht owners and guests are incredibly discerning and that any attempt to coax superyachts away from their usual haunts must be supported by comprehensive services, infrastructure and marketing materials. “The main conclusion of the short superyacht study is that the Cool Route should commission a high-class marketing brochure setting out the route in terms of its natural and other attractions and where possible highlighting the locations that have some of the facilities commented upon in the survey.”
Glossy marketing material aside, the Cool Route organisers need to prepare a document that clearly outlines the limitations of the route in order to ensure captains, senior staff and managers are able to prepare the vessels that wish to visit appropriately. There can be no denying that the Cool Route has a lot to offer superyacht owners - with golf, whisky, privacy and scenery being top of the list. But, any attempt to lure superyachts on an increasingly regular basis must not be rushed, because a few bad experiences at the beginning of the process would put pay to its medium-term success.
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