Why is page load time so important for your website?

In the industry of boats and especially when we are looking at the leisure boating industry pictures/images play an incredibly important role in making a website successful. Getting a prospective client to fill in a form and enquire for more info is the name of the game. Ultimately, it is about motivating people enough to make that first move on your websites. Have you ever heard the sentence ‘an image speaks more than 1000 words’  well that is very much the case with all sorts of communication but when it comes to luxury items it’s exponentially true. Not to mention that in these times we live in a lot of the content (images, text, videos) are consumed on-the-go on mobile devices.

 

Some of you may think we are stating the obvious; good images = better communication however, on the web ‘good’ images can come at a ‘high price’ which means a lot of KB or even MB (kilobytes or Megabytes of data) to load on each page when a web visitor is browsing your website. The key phrase here is PAGE LOAD SPEED. 

Why is load time so important ? Because it directly effects your conversion rate

Converstion Rate VS Load TIme

Did you ever use Google Page Speed Insight, or the Pingdom Speed Test to check on the load speed of your website. Well if you haven’t already these are free tools and you should have them at your fingertips and weekly check the performance of your website. You can rest assured that your prospective customers are NOT going to wait for your website to load if it is slower than they are used to.  In the Image below you can see that the speed test has some main indicators:

  1. The load time

  2. The Page Size in Megabytes
  3. The number of requests
  4. The location the website is tested from


Among these 4 points the only one that isn’t not self explanatory is number 3: The number of requests.

The number of requests (a.k.a.: number of Calls ) is the total number of request that a browser used by your website visitor ‘asks’ your server to load in order to put together the full page and display it. Think of it (metaphorically) as the number of pieces of a puzzle that you need to display the whole home page for your web visitors.

In the image below you can see the number of calls sorted by load time.

RC Calls Pingdom Speed Test

The load speed ultimately is the total time it takes to deliver ‘answers’ to these requests/calls (in our case 89 requests or pieces of the puzzle to get back to our metaphor)

Now what you want to know is essentially how do I get my website to perform better in terms of load time (say under 2-3 Secs and ideally in the region of 1.5sec or lower)

We can guarantee that you traffic will increase and your leads will increase as a consequence as soon as you website is speed-optimised.

These are some key things you can do

  1. Most important is your hosting server (the place where your website lives):
    1. HOSTING: We  highly recommend SiteGround but you can try many other services and see which fits you best. The reasons why we love SiteGround   are numerous and quite technical so we won’t go into too much details, however, it is incredibly simple to migrate a website to them because the will assist you step-by-step and their customer support and speed is second to none especially if you are using wordpress. If your website is of the size of Netflix or YachtWorld.com you will probably need AWS (Amazon Web Server) but chances are you will be already on AWS  paying 20-30 times what Siteground would charge you.
  2. Make sure you images are of reasonable size, you don’t really need anything above 150kb. You can use an image optimiser that is compatible with your CMS and if you are using wordpress you find a lot of them
  3. Make sure to minify or inline the CSS, and eliminate render-blocking JavaScript
  4. Lastly, you can use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) such as CloudFlare to make sure your website display from the closest server possible to your web visitor

If you need help migrating your website or optimise your conversion don’t hesitate to contact us

What price should I pay for the boat I want?

A yacht or a boat valuation is no ordinary process and it can hardly be compared to other vehicles  like cars or even planes simply because most boats are built in very small series or one-off and even those that do have a production line are hardly identical to one another. (exception made for some personal watercraft and a very few more modern brands).

A lot of vessels, often some of the most beautiful you will ever see, have only been built once and never replicated therefore it is hard to compare them to another similar vessel.

The way we approach valuations is essentially a combination of a technical valuation of the vessel and its status together with a market valuation based on some comparable boats from comparable [or the same] designer/shipayard. However, in this [apparently] simple equation there is one element we take into account very seriously and that is that the yacht market is relatively illiquid [not easily convertible into cash] at least in several size segments, therefore, the rarity of buyers gives them the opportunity to have an advantage on the price. On the other hand, it can be counter argued that those who buy boats, especially above the 50 feet segment, are generally not desperate for cash, and therefore can afford to play hardball on their sale price.

One more element that is to consider in terms of liquidity of the market is the very geographical area the vessel is located. For example areas such as the South of Florida in the U.S. are far more liquid markets than the UK, therefore you will often see faster transaction and less tiring negotiations than in other parts of the world.

This is not to say that you can’t get lucky and acquire a vessel for a significantly lower price that what a technical valuation would suggest. Our history is full of clients acquiring their vessel at 30-40 or even 70% their value however, these are often complex situations such as bankruptcies or even divorces at times and need to be handled with care. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find an owner who might not even know [maybe because he/she inherited the vessel] that the vessel actually comes with a £40,000 unpaid bill from the marina where the vessel was moored in the last 2 years.

Helping people acquire their favourite boat or their ideal charter vessel is something we have always been passionate about, therefore, we are in the process of building a free Yacht Valuation Form to help you acquire your next boat at the right price.

Increasing Conversion Rate From web visitor to prospective customer – relationship building in yachting websites

Increasing the conversion rate on a yacht related website is not a one size-fits-all job. The truth to be told is that the yachting industry is still strongly based on relationship building. Not many people really buy a boat online (over 20 feet) and even those companies who are very experienced in selling yacht charters like BoatBooking.com don’t believe that yacht charter holidays can be sold online with no human-to-human interaction on a 1-1 basis just yet.

Therefore,  it is crucial to increase and optimise conversion rate. Conversion rate is the measure of how many website visitors become leads and then again how many leads become customers. It is a numbers game but also a game based on relationship building.

Fortunately, technology is much better and more affordable than it was even only 10 years ago. There are plenty of tools that are aimed at improving and increasing the interaction between website visitors and the business behind the website.

One tool which has given us a lot of satisfaction with a number of clients including the one mentioned previously is the live chat tool .

Increasing conversion rate

The reason is fairly simple. It allows people to talk to the business behind the website they are visiting and ask them all sorts of questions. While it sometimes can be a huge waste of time on high traffic websites it is incredibly useful for websites who do not have traffic numbers in the tens of thousand every day. Furthermore, every conversation (chat) can be useful to understand how the business can improve its website and provide information (maybe as FAQs) that are get repeatedly asked in a number of chats.

On the other hand if you are an experienced yacht broker for example you will have immediately a sense for who you are speaking to (chatting) by the question one asks.

In one case of one clients the mere customisation of the live chat we did for them brought their conversion rate up by 4% in less than 30 days. The reason behind it was that real prospective customers who wanted to charter yachts could immediately understand from the chats that they were talking to real experienced brokers instead of a contact center in a developing country, that instilled the much needed confidence the HNWI web visitor requires to leave their contact info and follow-up with a the broker.

There are many tools we have tried and tested and a lot of them implied the operator (chat operator that is) to sit at his desktop/laptop with the backend of the website open waiting for chats to happen. This practice is of course not sustainable for the size of the teams of many companies in the yachting industry so we kept on searching for a better tool. In the end the one which we decided it is the best value for money and the most user-friendly for nontechnical users is from a company called LiveChat Inc.

They offer several features for advanced customisation of every greeting in every page and also based on the language of the user (yes the tools ‘knows it’ before hand based on where the web visitor is typing from).

LiveChat visitors
Lastly, the tool has a wonderfully designed mobile app which means that you can manage your chats just like you would manage text or WhatsApp conversations from your phone. It doesn’t hurt that they offer a free trial period so you can test it and decide whether it is for you or not.

The integration with your website is quite easy if your website is in WordPress, there is a dedicated plug-in for it. However if you need help contact our digital team 

If you want to try to implement the Livechat on your business website go ahead and use this link  and let us know what are your first impressions in the comments if you like.

We liked the results we were able to achieve with our clients through the LiveChat tool that we decided to become their partner and help other companies achieve those results too

Live Chat Software

How To set-up a successful yacht charter company

Yes! After many years we have finally given up to the dozens of requests we have received to build a comprehensive guide on How To set-up a successful yacht charter company and build your own charter business. Today, much more than 10 years ago, We are confident we can deliver a lot more value as the business of yacht charter is not only based on the experience on boats but also on how efficient and effective you are at winning new clients.

We are going to look at the business of yacht charter from the perspective of those who actually want to buy and manage a vessel and charter it . The mere yacht brokerage firm is a much simpler business model which are going to describe in details later on in the guide.

Whether you are approaching Yacht charter as a retirement plan and you are looking for an activity that is somewhat fun and offsets the cost of running your boat during your trip around the world or you are thinking of yacht charter as a business to grow and profit from we will try to cover all of the topics that we believe are appropriate:

If you don’t need our guide but you are ready to build a business plan save yourself days of work or expensive consulting fees to begin with and order our Yacht Charter Business Plan Template developed with Ms Excel from which you can easily build your plan. 

Order your Yacht Charter Business Plan and get a 30-min consultation included 

Here it is a preliminary list of elements we are going to discuss:

  1. Finding the right boat/yacht
  2. Can I run a yacht charter business solo ?
  3. Motor vs sail, and monohull vs multihulls (catamarans)
  4. Contracts and service standards
  5. Geographic areas and extended charter seasons
  6. Crew, skippers, and flags/registrations
  7. Marketing common mistakes
  8. Itineraries
  9. Onboard equipments and amenities
  10. Bareboat vs Crewed + Bareboat with skippers
  11. Web Platform to market your boat
  12. Brokers, Central Agents, and how much you should give them
  13. Foreign Flags and U.S. waters
  14. Drugs onboard, international waters, capitan’s liability vs company liabilities
  15. Payment terms and methods
  16. Internet marketing DOs and Don’t

Order your Yacht Charter Business Plan and get a 30-min consultation included 

Please don’t forget to register your interest to be notified when we the guide is ready. 

UPDATE 22/June/2017: As we received plenty of requests we are also going to publish a Yacht Charter Business Template on Excel which takes into account a typical scenario of acquisition and refitting of a vessel and the charter operations. This is a very unique business model developed in Microsoft Excel which you can customise according to the type of vessel and expenses you are facing during the process. We have looked for something similar and we have not found anything useful for this purpose, therefore, for we have decided to build it for  you and make it available for purchase at a very competitive price. Don’t forget to subscribe to be notified of when it is going to be available . 

Best Charter companies: BoatBookings.com 10+ Years of Yacht Charters and counting..

I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed this; the ups and downs of the yachting industry of the past 15 years have cleared the market from improvised market players and have consolidated the positions of other players. Generally speaking, those yachting industry players who are 15 years or older that are still trading in 2017 know what they are doing.

I’m confident it hasn’t been easy for any of the market players in the industry to go through the above mentioned ups and downs, however, it surely was more challenging for those who play a numbers game more than for others. In other words, those players whose business is based less on the historical relationships with a handful of U-HNWI owners to buy and sell their vessels over and over again and more on the lion share of the yachting industry market the mid-high level charter (12m-45m yachts).

BoatBookings.com

Among these players I had the pleasure to meet with the team of BoatBookings.com. The internet is surely where the focus has been in the last 5-6 years with all the “I wanna-be the Airbnb of boats” coming up and investing in UX, and Web development  [FYI: if you want to work with us never tell me You want to be the airbnb of boats please unless you have 30 million euros hanging you don’t know what to do with ok? or I’ll just leave without saying goodbye], but BoatBookings.com is over 10 years old and that makes them a pioneer among the yachting players online. With traffic in the millions of viewers every year they serve from the bareboat charter clients to the 50 meter super yacht charter clients and they do it very well in the sense that each broker is very competent and knows very well what makes a charter a successful one despite the wide variety of client types they serve.

It’s not surprising BoatBookings has a competent and dynamic CEO – Mrs DeValle – who takes great care of her whole team beyond their business training all the way to their physical wellness with scheduled fitness sessions at their office in Cannes.

A valuable and competent CEO, would not be able to do well for its business without a great team and if you hop on their LiveChat on BoatBookings.com to ask some information regarding a yacht charter trip that you are planning, regardless of your budget, you will realise immediately you are NOT talking with an outsourced contact center in a low cost country but with real brokers with hundreds of hours of training and thousands of nautical miles of yachting from their Cannes office. 

Boatbookings.com great strengths are their speed, with almost immediate response on all yacht availability, their competence in advising both expert sailors as well as newcomers and their first hand knowledge of  itineraries and vessels to best suit the needs of a diverse global clientele.

Maybe some of you are thinking, oh that is easy to do and it’s a broker should be doing, well if you are thinking that you have probably never tried to do it or were extremely lucky with all your yacht charters. Trust me, it’s not easy to deliver a service as BoatBookings.com does.

If you are passionate about Yachting and would like to become affiliated to boatbookings.com here is the link to their affiliate program

If you are a yacht owner a former owner or you are simply looking to try your first yacht holiday these guys know what they are doing, give them the opportunity to prove it to you. Those of you who have experience in the business and decide to speak to Boatbookings.com will know the quality of the people you are speaking with in the first 2 minutes of conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Investing in Yacht Charter profitable today? Yacht Charter Market Analysis

In the last 14 years at Rodriquez Consulting we have served a variety of yacht charter companies and private owners who were keen on chartering their yachts. More often than we would expect we get asked the usual questions: Is yacht charter profitable and/or is it a good business to get in? or Can investing in yacht charter be profitable?

In many industries the above questions would be rather simple questions to answer. However, in the yachting industry answering these questions with anything else other than “It depends..” requires us to get into more details. At the very least, we need to get into the specifics of the size segment you choose, primary geographic area and the yacht charter business model that you intend to implement.

To most people Yacht Charter rates seem to be very high as an absolute per-week-value, but are they high enough when you consider the cost of the asset/s (the yacht/s) and its running costs? The latter can have a very large range as variable costs depending on how and where the vessel is managed and can make a significant difference. Ultimately, it the acquisition price (the price of the vessel) that is crucial but the variable and fix costs are the ones that can determine whether the operation (your yacht charter business) is profitable or not.  If you are looking to build a business plan to charter yachts and get in the business this article will be useful, however, you might want to contact us for more ad-hoc support. Read more

New trends in yacht building: Hydrofoils

Thanks to the Americas Cup and the associated media exposure, it seems that ,at last, the world of leisure boats and yachting is ready to start considering hydrofoil technology as a viable technology. We could not be happier as the Rodriquez family pioneered hydrofoils more than 65 years ago (see History). Indeed, in 1951 when Carlo Rodriquez was building the first commercial hydrofoil for passenger transportation purposes no marine transportation company was farsighted enough to see the future which was being written. Carlo, had to start his own high speed transportation company(SNAV) to prove to his shipyard’s prospective clients that hydrofoils were not a dream but a solid reality. The company was SNAV (Società Navigazione Alta Velocità) and it was effectively raising the bar by an average 20-25 knots in every-day marine passenger transportation.

The model was the Pt20 which was travelling at with 70 passengers at 30 knots cruise speed powered by one 1350hp engine built on specs by Mercedes marine (now MTU).

Only in the 70s a yacht version of the Pt20 built by Rodriquez was used by the James Bond’s movie Thunderball (See footage below)

Many years later the now super famous company Hobie Cat headed by Greg Ketterman  applied hydrofoil technology to build the world’s fastest production sailboat, namely the Trifoiler. Then noticed that the market wasn’t yet ready to enjoy this speeds as hydrofoils were yet not considered safe enough.

In 2013-2015 it seems that the time is finally right for the boaters to start foiling and quite a few shipyards are moving the first steps around this technology. One example in the sailing world is Gun Boats (http://www.gunboat.com) with their

G4 foiled catamaran.Sailing hydrofoil Gunboat g4

We are not sure that catamaran are the safest route to take when hydrofoil technology is applied for the general public outside of the insanity of the race boats of the Americas cup, however, it’s certainly through experimenting that innovative solutions and control systems will be developed and implemented in the leisure boat industry.

Hydrofoil technology is essentially aimed at maximising the efficiency and lowering consumption and we did not have to wait to long to see the first few examples of electric hydrofoils for private use such as the Quadrofoil. (image below)

Quadrofoil- electric hydrofoil

In mid-sized power catamaran there are mild applications of foil technology (Foil assisted boats) like the on of South Africa based company  Hysucraft (www.hysucraft.com).

Even in the world of board sports the trend seem to have exploded with foiled kite surf, windsurfs, regular surf board.

In 2015, we actually stumbled upon an event dedicated to hydrofoil technology called the Foiling Week (www.foilingweek.com) and we plan on getting more information on the topic and keep you up to date.

The trend on hydrofoil technology is doubtlessly here and most probably it’s here to stay and will be be significantly boosted by the media exposure of the Americas Cup.

At Rodriquez Consulting we hope that this trend will not be taken lightly from a technical point of view. It would be best to avoid the ‘Just add foils’ type of attitude of shipyards venturing in this technology. After all when the Rodriquez shipyards started building hydrofoils those were operated and maintained by professionals and the R&D behind each project was significant. A professional, serious approach to hydrofoil technology guaranteed many decades of safe operations (some of the earliest hydrofoils are still moving passengers around the world).

The hydrofoil technology implemented on pleasure boats requires an even more thoughtful technical process to avoid vessels that are not technically sound to go out on the market to non-experienced pleasure boaters.

If your company is considering investing or is already developing a hydrofoil project, go ahead and contact us for technical and strategic support.  Hydrofoils[@]RodriquezConsulting.com  or use the contact us form

Upyacht; finally a yacht sharing membership company that makes sense

Upyacht.com

In the world of the sharing economy some companies have come out trying to shake up the yachting industry but in our view all of them have not really cracked the fundamentals that would really enable them to do so.

A lot of the companies we have seen that position themselves towards the Airbnb of boating have done a very good job in listing boats and trying to simplify the booking process for renting a boat. One of the few issues we have seen is that very few of them have truly understood that boating is not the process of renting an asset but rather that of delivering an experience.

In the the difference between renting out assets (boats/yachts) and delivering and experience lays the recent success of companies like The Yacht Week which in truth haven’t revolutionised the market but have identified a target and have made a great job at delivering to a specific 20-somthing target market that essentially requires a alcohol-loaded boating experience.

UPyacht has caught our attention because of its unique membership model which isn’t a share of ownership on a specific boat which would inevitably come with liability and maintenance costs, but simply credit to enjoy boating experiences or boat-time to do whatever one decides to do. Membership makes very much sense in this business because, let’s face it, going on a yacht by yourself isn’t much fun unless you are solo-sailor doing The Race. So here they come with a fresh new concept and from what we have seen a solid set-up.

We have looked into their founding membership offer (agreement and T&C) which seems to be a limited offer that does make a lot of sense to us: In brief a one-time fee of £15000 gives you access to £5000 per year for 3 years worth of yachting with vessels ranging from 30 to 75feet (9-21 meters), their charter rate are published and this level of membership gives you 20% off of their listed price (including the high season) giving customers the possibility to choose their itinerary, share it with other members and friends. All their Yacht are skippered and experiences are from what we see orientated to a wide variety of customers, ultimately it makes sense for a family or even a company to purchase this kind of memberships where the credit can be used for a family holidays on a sailing catamaran or a wakeboarding weekend for the youngsters.  

For more information go to Upyacht.com and let us have your comment if you book a holiday with them.

Superyachts by 2020 – the results of the Hamburg superyacht interiors international conference 2015

On the 29th-30th of June 2015, I was called to do the opening speech at the Superyacht interior international conference (links below), an invitation I gladly accepted. The focus of the conference was on design trends, construction materials, efficient project management, cooperation and communication among the stakeholders that are regularly involved in the creation of a new superyachts and refitting of exiting vessels.

As I was given the responsibility to do the first lecture and the opening speech of the conference I decided with the team to stick to what we do best and open the conference with hard data on the yachting industry.  We prepared the market data and forecasts on the superyacht segment (>24mt) together with qualitative trend analysis we created with the help of our panel of experts, our business partners and some of our clients.

The scope of Rodriquez Consulting’s presentation at the Superyacht conference had to have at least two goals:

– goal #1 Inform and deliver a superyacht market analysis framework for the participants to use as a guideline in terms of market size forecasts and benchmarks and

-goal #2 Start and fuel the conversation regarding trends, ideas, process innovation, and elements that are challenging the yacht industry while building the super yachts and the market towards 2020. 

Superyachts 2020

I was pleased with the feedback received from our presentation (download link here) of the participants among which industry leading brands(shipyards) such as Lurssen Yachts the builder of the worlds biggest superyacht Azzam, Oceanco the shipyard that built award winning Alfa Nero, Fincantieri, Italy’s biggest passenger (cruiseliners) that is set to become a power player in superyacht and gigayacht (100mt+) building.

Among the top players of yacht interior outfitting highly experienced participants such as Anjia Matzing from Metrica Interior and Mr Antonio Costamante of AIM Yacht Interiors  were contributing to make the round tables particularly interesting together with the Managing Director of Genesis Technologies AG, Thorsten Steinbrecher a specialist firm in advanced audio/video entertainment systems and even commercial aviation representatives such as Antje Terno from Airbus.

The materials discussion was driven by Alan Mcvitty from M Studio Rob Henderson from UN studio, Ian Langham from Eckersley O’Callaghan together with Sandrine Mialy, who presented a very innovative optical fibre textile (see video below) that triggered the creativity of the designers and architects attending the conference.Rodriquez Consulting analysis was focusing on delivering answers the most usual questions we get:

  1. How big is the superyacht industry in 2015 in terms of units and value
  2. How  big will the superyachts industry will be in 2020
  3. How many clients are there (Ultra High Net Worth Individuals) and how much money will they be making by 2020
  4. Where and how are they investing their investable wealth and what is the target market (U-HNWIs) allocation  within the realm of the Investment of Passion ?
  5. How are the demographic and psychographic profiles of the HNWIs changing towards 2020?

Right after the presentation, thanks to the opinions and debate sparking from the 2 intense days of round tables and challenging Q&As, we are editing the document to make it optimal for readers (without a speaking presenter) and a useful guideline on some of the hot topics of superyacht building including;

  1. How to improve the yacht building process (with a special focus on the interiors and fittings) and what are the current issues to be addressed in terms of processes, tools, communication methods, and coordination of the stakeholders (system specialists, designers, shipyards, certification bodies.
  2. The design challenges, new materials, techologies, and the who and where of the innovation value chain.
  3. Marketing, using modern technology to enhance the experiential value and improve speed and efficiency in generating new leads, improving lead-to-customer speed and responsiveness of the sales team.
  4. Diagnostic of custom quotes, risk assessment for interior specialists, liability budgeting.
  5. How to scope the wants and needs of clients correctly to facilitate contractors quotation and mitigate risk (The Elevator Case)

These and a few other questions have been answered during our presentation which you can find available for download at this link (DOWNLOAD).

Superyacht Interior international conference in Hamburg calls Leopoldo Rodriquez as opening speaker

On June 30th 2015 in Hamburg, Germany, our managing director Leopoldo Rodriquez will be the opening speaker and co-chairman of the Superyacht Interior international conference. He was asked to speak about the future of the superyacht industry, market data and trends. 

The presentation will touch upon some key elements of the super yacht market and its buyers. Leopoldo will speak about the hard data of the prospective global spending on superyachts by 2020 and also about the changing characteristics of the UHNWI target group towards 2020.

For a copy of his presentation please subscibe to our email newsletter it will be available for download after the conference.