The yachting industry is changing significantly in the past 20-30 years. Boats and yachting holidays were predominantly something that was mostly considered by people who were exposed to a yachting culture of some kind. The internet, clearly changed this game and it keeps changing it at speed.
We recently wrote an article on the topic of how the ‘the airbnbs of yachting’ are going to chance and improve boat ownership, however, the game is changing for yacht charters and even smaller and local boat rentals (those hiring boats by the hour or day rather than the more standard charter week).
For over 15 years we have produced market research and analysis on the yachting industry observing how the demographic and the phsycographic of the yachting market was changing. On top of that we were always strongly involved in the more topographic analysis of users behaviour on a variety of websites and companies selling yachts, yacht charters, boat rentals, marine supplies etc..
The experience of these two combined analytical points of view enabled us to get to the point and write a simple list of the most common and most widespread mistakes done in the yacht charter business.
(The ones that follow are in no particular order of priority)
1) Underestimating the importance of the web
This is a common mistake for yacht charter companies that has been done and it is still done countless times. It goes from slow loading websites (See How to make it faster), to horrific user experience, all the way to terrible spelling or amateurish photography. Yachts and Yachting related services unlike many other products are simply not as easy to find in a physical shop the highest the internet penetration becomes and with the generational change this because a make or break element of a lot of yachting or boating related businesses both operating in B2C and in B2B. I can’t even being to tell you how many times we have heard the sentence, “my clients don’t buy a boat because they see it on the web“. While this statement might have been somewhat true some time ago, it’s also true that when it comes to high ticket purchases no single source of information is the only one that makes a client purchase decision exclusively.
2) Assuming a certain degree of sailing knowledge for granted
Another very common mistake in the yacht charter business, we have made ourselves, is to assume that people that take an interest in yachting or boating have a certain degree of sailing or marine knowledge. Everybody starts somewhere and in many countries more than others the last thing that you want to do is make a client feel dumb for not knowing something or worse assume and he/she/they will behave based on your assumption they know something that they might not. Simple example: You charter a big boat you can load 50 people on them. No you don’t if it is a private yacht most likely you’ll be limited to 12 guests not matter how big it actually is. If you have worked with yacht charter I am sure you have answered this question hundreds of times.
3) Selling the asset(boat) rental time instead of the experience of boating in the specific navigation area.
This is probably the most common mistake to date. Leisure boats are not cars people do not rent them to go from A to B and yet, there still are lots of sites out there that feature a list of boat and no mention of itinerary and the experience on board. Especially in the most commercial segment of the market.
4) Asking for large deposits
Nowadays insurance companies are very sophisticated and there is no reason why a deposit can’t be substituted by an insurance product. (Needless to say this point does not apply to crewed charter that won’t need a deposit bu only to bareboat charters). It surely will add to the overall cost but it will lower the barrier to purchase a week worth of charter especially in the mid/lower segment of the market of weekly charters in the £800-4500/week range.
5) Relying on non-digitalised legal contracts
Again we are in 2018 and a lot of yacht charter companies and operators already have this process in place. Digital legal charter contracts that is, it easier it is faster and it is very efficient if your clients are not sitting at their desk most of the time.
6) Not accepting credit cards or using advanced consumer financing options
Accepting credit cards has a cost attached to it but it also makes it faster and easier for a client to book and deposit initial sums. Nowadays, credit card processing devices are mobile and incredibly inexpensive to acquire and set-up, and yet a lot of charter operators still do not accept them and make their sale process much longer and more difficult.
7) Choosing the wrong crew or skipper
On a crewed charter the crew makes a very significant part of the experience. Regardless, of whether it is only 1 skipper or a crew of 3 or more even the most discreet crew will always interact with the guests a great deal during any given charter period. The captain/skipper and his/her crew have a very delicate job as they have to reassure the guests about navigation even when the seas are rough but at the same time provide for all reasonable (and sometimes unconventional) requests. Languages are a big plus because a good knowledge of the guest language will assure nothing is lost in translation, but character is even more important especially for the crew members that are in charge and might have to take unpopular decision to avoid unnecessary risks when needed.
8) Little attention to details
It can be about things as small as a car charger (12 Volt lighter plug) for the iPhones to be available onboard so that guests don’t have to run the engine or the generator to charge their phones/mobile devices which costs virtually nothing but says a lot about the company’s attention to details. It can also be about the smaller maintenance issue like making sure the show filters are cleaned between a charter and the other, or even a first (food) provision that takes care of the vegetarian dietary needs of the guests. Small things add up like little gold coins to gain great feedback and happy guests which are without a doubt the best way to grow your yacht charter business.
9) Not establishing guests priorities and preferences
The same navigation area can offer completely different experiences depending on what your preferences are. You can prefer to lay in the sun and swim to clubbing and fancy dining, or you might be more interested in discovering historical treasures and hidden spots. A yacht charter should always be a personalised experience (unless of course the route is pre-set) and the crew and the charter company should always take into consideration the specific interests of the people on board, all of them, not just the one signing the checks.
10) Underestimating the power of videos
One specific yacht charter company’s marketing success is almost entirely based on videos and it proves this point exactly. The Yacht Week’s indeed is one