The role of yacht agents during COVID-19
Bea Alonso, COO at Evolution Yachting, discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the yacht agent market…
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected almost all sectors of the superyacht industry and, for yacht agents assisting yachts with everyday operations, demand for certain services has increased significantly. For Evolution Yachting, the most immediate impact of the pandemic was to the team’s day-to-day focus, which shifted from preparing for the summer season to assisting crew.
“At this time of year we would normally be booking berths, planning itineraries for guests and arranging services for the summer and suddenly we had to convert all our operations to helping crew with travel arrangements, drawing up letters for authorities to allow movement for necessary trips on land and obtaining up-to-date information about individual countries’ restrictions and how they affect the yachts and their crew,” explains Bea Alonso, chief operating officer at Evolution Yachting.
As European countries started going into lockdown, there was immediate uncertainty about the upcoming summer season as well as concerns relating to the logistics of crew changes. “We received a lot of questions about what to do about arriving crew; will they be able to fly in and out and should they go into quarantine,” says Alonso. “The most frequently-asked question was about whether crew could go out for necessary trips, so we were providing them with the tools to be able to do this.”
“We are also keeping clients up to date about what to do in case someone on board develops symptoms, in the context of the local area.”
Evolution’s clients have overwhelmingly reacted professionally to the measures and continue to comply with the changing regulations, with team continually providing them with valuable advice. “It is important for yachts to check locally and review the situation day by day,” Alonso adds. “At one point, when the lockdown started to become really strict in all the countries, we were recommending that it was better for the boats to stay where they were, but most had taken that decision already. We are also keeping clients up to date about what to do in case someone on board develops symptoms, in the context of the local area.”
While the pandemic is a difficult situation for everyone, the yacht agent market is likely to be in a stronger position after the conclusion of the crisis as, more than ever, yachts realise the importance of reliable information. “All the shipping agents have been very busy during the pandemic – times like this reinforce our position that we are best placed to give yachts local advice,” concludes Alonso.
“In a situation where there are a lot of rumours being spread, you need to have the right information for each city and country and you need to know who is responsible for making the decisions with regards to yachting in a period of crisis. So, we have been able to go to the source and get accurate and real-time information in the nine countries we have offices. We realise that many people are lost in foreign countries during a crisis and need our assistance, so we have really tried to help crew.”
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