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The real perception problem

How can the superyacht market better show the opportunities it holds for young professionals?

During The Superyacht Forum Live: Captains Edition a panel of experts engaged with delegates in a collaborative session that allowed those on stage and in the crowd to express their hopes and fears for the yachting industry, especially where it related to crewing, operations and the workforce. One of the key concerns that came to light was the industry's lack of ability to attract talented individuals to work within the industry. Much has been made of how the negative perception of superyachting harms its ability to attract buyers, but does the perception of yachting have a more profound impact on the potential workforce than on owners?

When people talk about the perception of yachting, discourse often focuses on the negative impact that it has on the market’s ability to transform UNWHIs into superyacht buyers or charter guests. One could argue, however, that this viewpoint is a little myopic. There is, at least for UHNWIs, recourse to experience the superyacht market and everything that it has to offer.

In this sense, a poor public image may play second fiddle to the excellence of the superyacht experience itself. Indeed, even within the context of the Ukraine war, which has done more than most global events to tarnish the superyachting brand, sales, both in terms of new build and brokerage, remain strong, and the charter market is expecting a bumper year. The simple fact of the matter is that ultra-wealthy people enjoy spending time on superyachts because it is one of the best luxury experiences available on the planet.

By contrast, the average person won’t get the opportunity to learn about the superyacht market, its nuance, its beauty and the opportunities that lie therein and, therefore, their opinions will be based only on what they have seen either in film, on TV or in the media and, generally speaking, these platforms rarely provide a balanced view of the superyacht market.

The fault, it should be noted, does not lie with the mainstream media, nor indeed with film or television producers, these platforms are businesses and will produce the content that they think will sell the most papers or generate the most views. The fault, unfortunately, lies with the market itself and its traditional inability to communicate effectively with businesses and individuals beyond its borders.

Do people, for instance, understand that superyacht building is one of the last true bastions of artisanal craftsmanship? While this is a fact that is repeated often and proudly within the market itself, knowledge of this rarely breaks out of the echo chamber and into the ears of the young people that might have otherwise considered a career in yachting if they were furnished with all the information available. If the industry fails to attract talented and engaged young professionals, the market’s quality and capacity will suffer as a result in the future.

For a more rounded exploration of the challenges facing the superyacht industry's workforce, join The Superyacht Group Community and look out for the publication of The Superyacht Operations Report in May 2022.

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What can the industry do to attract young talent?

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