With international borders closed and varying quarantine laws, 2020 was a challenging year for yacht charter companies. However, with strict hygiene measures in place, yacht charter enquiries have surged as the demand for privacy and safe vacations continue in 2021.
Advait Deodhar, Yacht Charter/Sales Broker at TJB Super Yachts, joined the expert panel at the Balearic Yacht Show 2021 for a conference focused on “Current Trends in Charter”. The discussion covered topics including whether there is a greater demand for off-the-grid experiences for charter guests, how the pandemic has possibly strengthened this market and what clients are looking at now and in the future.
How have demographics changed over the past few years, are we seeing younger charter guests and owners?
Clients are getting younger and they’re requesting different types of yachts complete with the hottest yacht toys and innovations.
Advait says, “For the past 12 months, there are younger people starting to charter and willing to spend a lot more money for charters. For the people who have been travelling, they’re looking at bigger boats than previous years, so if they’ve chartered a 20-25-metre boat they’re now going up to 35-40-metre range.”
How has the pandemic impacted the yacht charter market and what’s the outlook for 2021 for the Mediterranean and Caribbean seasons?
Five hundred nautical businesses make up the Balearic maritime sector and of that, 14% represent yacht charter (source: Balearic Marine Cluster). Advait continues, “I do a lot of charters for the Mediterranean, especially the Balearics. It’s important to stay updated with what’s happening in the industry – for example, the limitations on the number of boats for charter in the Balearics due to the Spanish charter license. A lot of my clients have started to show interest in the Balearics and that’s off the back of the new VAT regulations for Italy and France (no lump-sum VAT reductions), so now the Balearics has around the same VAT as Italy and France, which wasn’t the case earlier. Last season, a definite change was that I booked more Mediterranean charters for European clients. The demand is there for our UK clients, but of course, there is hesitancy with returning to the UK and having to quarantine.”
Overall, leisure boating is seeing a light at the end of the tunnel – postponed bookings from 2020 have shifted to this year. Owners and charterers are understanding the ‘new normal’ and the luxury and flexibility of controlling your onboard environment with social distancing for family and friends and strict hygiene protocols. The biggest change has been the amount of time charterers want to spend on a yacht with enquiries for longer charters.
Yacht Type Insights
Between 2010-2021, there was a 43% growth of fleet in the superyacht industry. As well, as of 1st September 2020, there were 821 superyachts in build or ordered. The number of motor yachts in build outstrips sailing yachts, though demand overall grew in the U.S. whereby recreational boating and leisure marine activities boosted last year. In 2020, 44% of all brokerage sales were to U.S. owners (source: BOAT Pro). So, the superyacht industry showed encouraging signs considering forecasts last year.
Since 2010, there has been a 166% increase in the number of expedition yachts in build (source: BOAT Pro). The advantages of chartering a vessel set up for long-range cruising and plenty of storage space for extended periods at sea came to the forefront last year. Did the pandemic strengthen demand from TJB Super Yachts’ charter clientele for off-the-grid destinations? Yes and no. The demand is there for cruising to exotic places; however, confinement and travel accessibility have been the major factors that have impacted the market. Consequently, there’s been a surge of interest in local cruising regions due to travel restrictions. TJB Super Yachts’ charter brokers have adapted to stay on the cutting edge of superyacht charter trends and 2021 is shaping up for a rebound with the charter calendar filling up fast.
What steps is TJB Super Yachts taking to support the customer journey for UHNWI charter clientele?
On 1st June, the Yacht Club de Monaco was the venue for a conference “The Customer Journey of UHNWI” hosted by Cluster Yachting Monaco and the IUM (International University of Monaco). Speakers including Stewart Campbell (Editor-in-chief from BOAT International), well-known superyacht designer Espen Øeino, Prof. Dr. Phil Klaus and Dr. Annalisa Tarquini-Poli (International University of Monaco) and Manuel Bianchi (Managing Director, Global Head of Sales at Wealth-X). Talking points included the challenges of managing UHNWI’s customer expectations and the distinction between Experience versus Experiential marketing. Joining events such as this to gather market intelligence and analysis is key to enable effective decision making and growth opportunities for TJB Super Yachts.
Europe has traditionally dominated the yacht charter market; this looks to continue with travel bans beginning to ease for popular summertime charter destinations, increased interest in Eastern Mediterranean destinations such as Croatia, Greece and Turkey and shoulder seasons proving popular with Western Mediterranean charter bookings.
Maintaining good relationships with charter clientele will be vitally important. Communicating about flexible charter bookings and changes in protocol for different cruising regions will likely result in improved loyalty. Post-purchase drives behaviour which is paramount for rebooking a charter with TJB Super Yachts.
Caribbean charter enquiries are progressing, with Caribbean countries announcing their entry requirements for the winter charter season and a drive to appeal to UHNWI charterers looking to travel for their Christmas vacations. For example, the U.S Virgin Islands allows ease of entry for U.S citizens and onsite Covid testing at IGY Marina’s Yacht Haven Grande.
The increasing number of high-net-worth individuals in Asia and the rising popularity of nautical activities such as water sports are anticipated to further drive charter in Asia. Alongside this, yachting infrastructure and government initiatives such as improved charter regulations in Thailand, are critical factors for regional growth.
One thing remains as 2021 progresses – yacht charter clients still appreciate a priceless experience where they can create memorable moments with their loved ones. Ultimately, exclusivity, luxury, privacy and quality time are valued more than ever before.
To watch the replay of the Balearic Yacht Show “Current Trends in Charter” session featuring Advait Deodhar, go here: https://youtu.be/fe4J7Z5SS1s
Hero image credit : Balearic Yacht Show