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We are what you sell

Is a knowledge gap stifling the market’s global expansion?

While the superyacht market likes to believe that it is truly global, the truth of the matter is that the industry and the activity is still focused on a select few dominant regions. Can superyachts theoretically visit most locations in the world? Absolutely. Do most of the superyachts in the world make use of this freedom? No.

While there are regulatory, financial and practical realities to consider that limit the superyacht community’s absolute freedom, save for a few particularly well off and enlightened private owners, there are still limiting factors that, in an ideal market, would not be a hindrance. One such example is a lack of knowledge where alternate destinations are concerned.

For superyachts where charter return is the primary motivating factor, it is clear that operating double seasons (or more) in the world’s most popular destinations is the simplest course of action for optimal financial return. Furthermore, it is within these locations, such as the Mediterranean and Florida, that superyacht service and maintenance infrastructure has flourished as a means of dealing with the traffic and capitalising on the business.

There are also many beautiful locations globally that simply do not allow foreign-flagged superyachts to charter. However, there are also a number of locations that welcome both private and charter vessels and yet see a staggeringly small amount of yachting traffic relative to what they have to offer the superyacht community.

Speaking with a superyacht owner recently who keeps his superyacht in British Columbia, Canada, he spoke at length about the various wild and wonderful locations he has visited globally, as well as the many strengths of some of yachting’s most popular locations, but he kept returning to the fact that British Columbia and Alaska were by far his favourite locations. Granted, the wilderness and weather may not be to the tastes of all of the sunbathing Riviera contingent, I am certain that what British Columbia has to offer would appeal to far more owners and charter guests than their visitation figures would suggest.

In the writing of the same article I spoke with a superyacht captain who knows both regions incredibly well and he described to me an experience of his in Fort Lauderdale that surprised me. When speaking to a large group of charter brokers, he sort to ascertain what the general knowledge level in the room was where cruising in British Columbia was concerned. To his shock, his questions were met with blank expressions and a complete lack of knowledge on the part of the charter brokers. However, when he inquired about Florida, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, the charter brokers were extremely forthcoming with their knowledge and experience.

That charter brokers knowledge is primarily tapered to the world’s most popular destinations is not surprising, in fact, it is entirely justified. However, how is the industry supposed to become truly global and offer owners and charter guests the full breadth of experiences if some of the world’s top charter businesses do not take time to learn the details of regions beyond the obvious?

If the superyacht community as a whole does not become better at filling the knowledge gaps, it will only slow progress. It should not be left to various regional associations to try and force-feed information; we should be actively seeking to learn and create new experiences.

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