“The key to successfully standing out from the flock of charter yachts is to put your trust in a stellar promotional and operational team”, says Ocean Alliance charter manager Laurie Foulon.
Interview by Ocean Magazine.
Over recent years, the number of owners placing their yachts on the Australian charter market has ascended to unprecedented levels. How these yachts are chartered can be fundamentally split into two target markets: those looking for a holiday experience with a multiple-night stay on board, and those hosting a private or corporate event, often in Sydney Harbour.
PLOTTING A COURSE
One of the most important ways your yacht can stand out from the rest of the charter fleet and fill its booking schedule is through the work of a talented and well connected central agent. So, how do you set about working with your charter manager, and how should you collaborate to define your expectations of a successful charter operation?
First and foremost, find a charter manager accredited by a reputable yachting association, such as MYBA, with a clear passion for the business and an excellent international network in which to promote your yacht, from key media and influencers to successful charter brokers and exclusive travel agents.
CREW IS KEY
According to our charter clients, a successful yacht charter experience is defined not by the yacht’s collection of toys or the interior features, but by the human connection on board.
” A yacht in poor condition with an amazing crew has a better chance of success than an amazing yacht with a crew whose core values are not focused on charterer experience. The winning combination? A knowledgeable captain, a dynamic crew and an enthusiastic chef. “
As ‘front of house’, the captain leads the team that will create lifelong memories for their guests. The captain’s personal connections with regional operators and contacts will provide access to special events and locations that are not usually available. A great captain will understand the expectations and anticipate the needs of charter brokers, client’s representatives and the guests themselves.
Being full-time hospitality professionals, crew members tirelessly bring the yacht to life with their personalities and skill sets. Beyond the requisite certification, a ‘charter-friendly’ crew should have a love of water sports, an enthusiasm for entertaining children, an innate curiosity and, above all, a discreet approach when it comes to their guests’ privacy.
Food fuels a charter, both for the guests and the crew. A chef must be attuned to the regional specialties, creative with what is available and especially attentive to the guests’ preferences. From the moment they wake, guests will enjoy smelling the ‘home-made’ delicacies from the galley and, later on, they will visually feast on the impeccable presentation of freshly caught seafood and colourful dishes of a buffet lunch.
Your charter manager should translate the unique talents and strengths of the entire crew to capture the essence of what makes your yacht unique and enjoyable, including recent sample menus from the chef.
BE COMMERCIALLY MINDED
The success of a charter yacht will reflect the owner’s commitment to the commercial activity, including having an understanding of the operations under charter. An experienced charter manager will lead you through the typical expectations of guests from around the world, and is able to make valuable suggestions for how the yacht operates under charter that will pay dividends.
This is your yacht, and charter should not impede your enjoyment of it, either. It is important to define your realistic expectations for usage, both in terms of time you will spend on board, and where you would like to cruise. Setting out the calendar, including your personal use and cruising itinerary will provide opportunities for long-term bookings, while some flexibility may allow you to consider exploring new cruising areas. The key is to entrust your Charter Manager to act on your behalf for prompt answers in a 24/7 and competitive industry.
In a competitive charter market, in order to build the yacht’s reputation, it is also important to entrust your charter manager with your expectations: charter rates and negotiations, availability of the yacht, marketing opportunities and any restrictions.
A dedicated charter manager will build the yacht’s yearly marketing plan, exposing it to the right audience in order to maximise the booking conversion. Aside from the unquestioned need for high-quality and updated imagery of all areas on board, the modern-minded charter manager will be attuned with how to capitalise on your yacht’s best attributes.
In a world of digital communication, it is important to manage the yacht’s online profile diligently.
Besides being pictured floating on turquoise waters, a superyacht should represent a cocoon for deeply transforming, tailored experiences that no luxury land base can offer.
Lifestyle photo-shoots with models help potential charterers imagine themselves enjoying the yacht. Think guests enjoying the water sports, culinary delights, unique interior details and beach barbecue set-ups. Film and virtual tours, including from drones, provide the ultimate selling tool for yachts in remote areas that are inaccessible to overseas guests or brokers for an inspection prior to the charter.
Open days and short familiarisation trips showcase yachts that are new to the market or recently refitted. These help create a buzz at the yacht shows that are brimming with charter brokers and clients, where your charter manager will be your best representative, connecting face to face with influential brokers or media partners eager to profile your yacht.
Social media has become a powerful tool for marketing charter yachts, creating a word-of-mouth platform. The profile and feed will need managing to ensure your yacht’s social media presence reflects its unique profile. Disregarding this may present risks, such as poor quality and outdated information.
Sample itineraries built from the captain’s and owner’s experiences, supported by high-quality imagery, will plunge the reader right into the surroundings and activities created around the yacht and its cruising grounds.
Ultimately, an effective charter manager should enthusiastically represent you on both the local and international charter markets, where creativity and destination content marketing are key. Protecting a high-value asset represents a responsibility and requires mutual confidence from both sides for the central agent-owner relationship to result in a fruitful charter operation.