International marina operator, IGY Marinas has created a digital portal containing the latest updates on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on its multiple locations around the world.
IGY Marinas’ international network now encompasses 18 marinas across three continents, and multiple jurisdictions. The portal represents a central mainframe for updates on the current scenarios where each of its marinas is located, comprising: Details on local or national entry and departure restrictions by location; Port entry and departure resources; On-site marina operations and procedures for duration of stay; [in some cases] Transient vessel stays, fuelling and provisioning with restrictions.
With such a broad network of locations, many subject to pandemic control measures of varying severity and proportion, this portal provides IGY’s network of clients, as well as those in need of contingency plans, a reliable source of curated information on what is a rapidly-changing situation.
As someone whose views of the superyacht market have closely aligned with my own over the years, I contacted IGY’s Vice President Marketing & Sales, Bert Fowles to compare and contrast our current landscapes from either side of ‘The Pond’.
In a previous thought leadership article, Fowles had outlined his expectations for the months to come, thus: ‘All ships rise and lower with the tide and after a disaster there are organic and inorganic impacts. How we manage the inorganic impacts of this unfolding pandemic will determine our industry’s collective ability to navigate this and future challenges.’
Of course, we in Europe are, to varying degrees beginning to relax the extreme restrictions placed on movement. But as Fowles and I agreed, the residual positive impact on this unravelling of restrictions on the yachting market will take time.
However, as he pointed out in our conversation, what the emergent industry will look like is intriguing. When the economy begins to return, so will activity within the market, but it may be a market like one we have not seen before.
Fowles used a turn of phrase, “pragmatic use” to describe a profile of client that may reconsider, or even completely overhaul their cruising and maintenance schedule. He has heard anecdotal evidence that some clients may extend their Caribbean season into the European summer, and this is no doubt the case with vessels stationed in other regions of the world.
There could also be a reimagining of the way a superyacht is used – “a sensitivity”, as Fowles put it – to the unrivalled visceral experience prolonged time aboard a superyacht offers the owner/charterer and their loved ones.
But that is not to overlook the tough times that lay ahead first. Contrary to common misconceptions, the vast majority of yachting businesses (when analysed across all sectors) are SMEs. As Fowles concurred, the fixed overheads or these businesses, coupled with a dramatic slowdown in general market activity, will place many under extreme pressure to remain fully operational.
But it is by banding together, and providing clear and cogent ‘best practice’ information as per IGY’s new information portal, that we as an industry can help each other through the coming months.
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