Teaching old dogs new tricks
Nicola Kienzle, Co-founder of Metarina, discusses the need for digital solutions for age old issues…
When Nicola Kienzle was working in the superyacht industry, she found that the tedious and arduous task of booking a marina stay was becoming increasingly frustrating. On the yachting side of operations there was an inability to find reliable marina booking options as well as a lack of ease in communicating the details of the yacht. For the marinas, manual administration overload often led to a lack of customer management. And so, based on her own authentic experience, Kienzle decided to create a start-up tech company which would solve these issues and help bring yachting into the digital age.
Through the Metarina app or website, boaters can compare the facilities and prices of marinas before booking a berth all in just a few simple steps, while also allowing marinas to digitally manage their clients in one space. The software currently operates in the Balearic Islands and Catalonia, however, after sponsorship from the European Union, they will soon be looking to expand across the rest of the Western Mediterranean. Kienzle discussed the popularity of the software with the next generation of ‘yacht savvy’ owners,
“It is quite comical whenever we hear a story about an owner telling the captain that he has already organised the yachts stay at a marina in advance with us, before the captain did. I think that by using our service, owners feel more involved in yachting, and it creates more transparency between the owner, the crew and the marina.”
The superyacht industry is insular and secretive in its essence, and while that helps to facilitate an air of exclusivity which helps attract new clients, it also hinders its evolutionary process. Kienzle explained how this aspect of yachting creates hurdles for innovative ideas and new age start-ups,
“The yachting industry is quite conservative, and so it can be quite difficult to implement these new ideas, it is a gradual process. If we can secure one area and make digital booking commonplace, then hopefully the rest of the industry will see the benefits and follow suit.”
The lack of data sharing and information is a very popular gripe for many stakeholders in the industry. One reason for this could be the hand-to-mouth nature of businesses fighting over one another to secure contracts and clients in an incredibly niche industry, deterring people from stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. However, as the industry grows and word to mouth no longer becomes the most effective marketing tool, businesses who have taken the leap into a digital space will prevail over those who prefer to take a traditional approach to busines practices in the yachting industry.
For the largest superyachts in the market, the role of booking berths typically lands on the laps of yacht agents. Kienzle also has experience working with agencies, and noted how ever since the pandemic, their roles have expanded and workloads increased,
“I think that captains and crew appreciate the work that yacht agents do much more, the tightening of restrictions and regulations has meant that agencies have really proved their worth, with our software we want to help enhance and streamline the work of agencies, increasing the communication between them and the yachts, and removing all the paperwork and confusion.”
The young group of vibrant entrepreneurs believe that while their first-hand experience of the industry coupled with their innovative technology has helped take them so far in such a short time, they need to further encourage a variety of stakeholders in order to change the norm. We are entering an era where questions are constantly raised regarding industry standards and the indolence of the ‘if it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude, but by showcasing the benefits of digital solutions, companies such as Metarina can help bring yachting into an age which excites the next generation of superyacht owners.
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