Geoff Moore is the managing director of West Nautical, specialists in yacht and superyacht sale, charter and management...
Each and every yacht is different, as is every owner and customer, which makes the whole design process something of a minefield when it comes to producing a vessel that appeals for both sale and charter.
As with any luxury item, everything surrounding the production of a yacht is unique and customisable, and although this has many benefits during the initial build or a refit, it can also cause problems in the long term because it can significantly reduce the number of potential customers to whom a yacht can appeal.
From a broker’s perspective, design is one of the key factors that determine whether yacht will sell. This is primarily due to the fact that the design and decor will, in many cases, be in the particular style of the owner, and this is where problems can arise. Individual tastes differ and everyone has their own perspective on what does and doesn’t look good. It is for this reason that we often advise customers to ‘dress down’ the more bespoke-style yachts as this can allow prospective buyers to see the potential of a vessel that has been more heavily customised.
We all know of yachts that have remained on the long-term sales market due to their unique design or decoration and, while there are many other factors that can influence why they haven’t sold, these vessels have often been over-personalised and are very individual to their owner, which can cause problems when it comes to their resale potential.
This can also cause issues around the value as, in many cases, the figure that the seller believes their yacht is worth may not be in line with the current market, ultimately pricing people out. Owners have often been very heavily involved in the build or refit process, making the sale more sentimental and one that isn’t led by their head alone. It does, of course, take just one person with a similar style or eye for detail to decide to buy; however, finding that one buyer can be a slow process and is no easy task.
As professionals, it is our responsibility to advise our clients and ensure they understand the market and tactics that can help improve a yacht’s saleability. We have all had clients who have rejected yachts purely based on the design or decoration, and it is important this is communicated in the right manner to help meet our client’s expectations and provide the best service possible. This can be achieved for minimal cost and by following a few simple steps – for example, implementing a neutral colour pallet and replacing any artwork that is too garish.
As professionals, it is our responsibility to advise our clients and ensure they understand the market and tactics that can help improve a yacht’s saleability.
When it comes to how yacht design affects charter appeal, there is more flexibility as guests can be more open and receptive to different characteristics. They are using the yacht for a shorter time, and functionality is often a more important factor as guests are more interested in the experience a yacht can provide rather than the interior decor. Of course, decor is still important but as a broker I am more frequently asked questions about whether a yacht has a spa, lift or gym rather than whether it has a contemporary or traditional interior. Factors such as the yacht’s location, availability and weekly rate also come in to play, and clients are more willing to compromise to find a solution that suits them and their individual requirements.
That said, yacht charter is very similar to renting a villa or hotel, and customers will make a snap judgement based on photographs or the yacht’s arrangement which can lead to certain yachts being rejected based on their interior. Take sister yachts, for example, where you have two identical platforms but a completely different interior design. Customers may reject one based entirely on how it looks, even though the layout and exterior are identical, with the same cabin set-up and water toys.
One thing I have found is that designs that are either too garish or too vanilla do not work. Some yachts are so OTT, with colours, materials, artwork and sculptures that are too much of an acquired taste to appeal to the wider market. In contrast, however, a yacht with no personality can also be a turn-off, especially for charter, as the yacht doesn’t feel lived-in or homely.
The 10-80-10 equation seems to be the best rule of thumb. The top and bottom 10 per cent of customers will like either garish or plain designs, but for a yacht to be successful for charter it needs to apply to the 80 per cent who like something in between.
I believe that when it comes to selling or buying a yacht, design is absolutely key, and is something that is becoming more important as the industry evolves. When it comes to charter, it’s often functionality rather than design that’s important, but this is not in isolation and design still plays a big part in the overall decision-making process.
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