The impact of the pandemic on the charter industry
SuperYacht Times asked seven charter companies the most important questions about their experiences with the Covid-19 pandemic; how this impacted their business; what challenges they had to face; and what the future holds.
From remote work to endless Zoom calls, it’s fair to say that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we do business. But what has this meant for charter companies and the way they operate not only now, but in the future?
Of course, the most prevalent concern for most of these companies is turnover, with results directly achieved from March 2020. Charter manager James Graham-Cloete at TWW Yachts explains: “ The first Reservations for the Med season were down due to the pandemic, with May and June charters canceled or postponed. TWW’s charter fleet also saw fewer larger ships returning from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, which had a direct impact on year-over-year summer revenue. For the yachts in the TWW fleet, we have seen a 25% reduction in charter revenue for 2020, mainly due to the late start of the season and larger vessels not returning from the Caribbean. However, Graham-Cloete reveals that all was not lost: “ From the end of June of last year inquiries and bookings resumed as we saw travel restrictions relaxed, with many last minute bookings and an increase in bookings for Croatia and Turkey, accessible to non-European customers. This trend continued very late in the season – much longer than in previous years â. Photo: SuperYacht TimesSacha Williams, Director of Charter Marketing at Camper & Nicholsons echoed the challenges TWW faced: “ We had a lot of bookings in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Southeast Asia at the start of the pandemic that must have be postponed, so we were immediately impacted. We acted quickly by launching the global Jet-to-Yacht program in November 2020, allowing our customers to move from door to gangway in the safest and most exclusive way possible. If this was successful – and the market recovered during the summer months – it only partially offset the loss of activity throughout the year. We generally have an almost equal distribution of American and European customers, for example, but this year the markets have remained local.Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesWhile charters were understandably on hold for much of 2020, where did guests go when travel was finally possible?
Raphael Sauleau, CEO of Fraser, said that a specific group of destinations has sparked interest: âWe have seen an influx of customers in Croatia, as it was one of the first countries to open charter to citizens. After that, as more and more countries started to lift restrictions, we saw a return to traditional regions: the southern and western Mediterranean in summer, with a sharp increase in Greece and Turkey, and for winter, the Caribbean, where the 2020- 2021 season has been relatively active. ” Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesCompanies like Fraser have had to be responsive to ever-changing travel restrictions, says Sauleau: âWe ran a very successful campaign called ‘Take a New Look atâ¦’ in which we invited charterers to rediscover places. and destinations in their own country. countries. New England has shown strong demand for our US customers, as have Corsica and Croatia for our European customers during the summer. Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesSo, looking at the year ahead: how does 2021 look for the industry?
Imperial Charter Central Agent Ekaterina Pavlova says the pandemic has provided new insight into charter regions: âMany customers are now thinking of new remote regions. We are seeing increased demand for regions such as French Polynesia, the Middle East, Madagascar, Mauritius, Indonesia, Central America and Northern Europe – even Russia. As customers broaden their horizons, will this trend hold true after the pandemic?
SuperYachtsMonaco Charter Broker, Christopher Craven predicts: “ I think Croatia will have another good year, and with Greece’s 9.6-12% lower VAT, I see the Aegean to be another popular destination in 2021. J Would love to see an increase in business in 2021. more adventurous places like the Norwegian fjords, Alaska, Greenland and Svalbard this summer, but the old ways are dead. The same old favorites will bring the charterers – Sardinia, Corsica, SoF, Balearics and Amalfi Coast. All beautiful destinations, of course. Photo: TWW YachtsBut what about the guests? Apart from luxury and a once in a lifetime experience, what other priority is top priority when chartering their next ship?
IYC Director of Charter Management Heather Hatcher said, âCustomers are looking for a safe place to connect with their families. As always, our customers are very demanding and prefer privacy. I think you’ll see the trend lean more towards nautical and yacht tours rather than land-based activities. A chartered vessel offers several amenities such as a spa experience, restaurant, gym and entertainment facilities and full time staff to meet the individual desires of each guest. There is little reason to leave the ship! Photo: Â© Imperial – Jeff Brown / Breed MediaSo chartering a superyacht could be an ideal solution for those who care about the safety of other vacations, perhaps. Yachting Partners International (YPI) Director of Charter Retail, Nickie Tannock-Vincent agrees: âOur customers want exclusivity and security. Once the trip gets easier, I predict yacht charter will become very popular with many new customers who are trying this great way to have a safe and private vacation. In fact, Tannock-Vincent is optimistic: âI have no doubts that this season is going to be a very good one. At YPI, we have a number of canceled bookings from 2020 that have been moved to 2021, meaning many yachts will be full this summer ahead of the season by repeat or new customers. ”Photo: Nico CartallaSo could 2021 be the year of the superyacht after all?
Ekaterina Pavlova, Central Agent of the Imperial Charter has high hopes, but predicts that customers will raise the stakes with what they desire on board: âCustomers will be looking for superyachts with impressive spa facilities and fantastic food. . Expectations are going to be even higher. But surely, does it amount to having a memorable ocean adventure? Pavlova concludes: âThe more toys you can take on board, the more fun and memories you can create. After such a frustrating year, customers want to reconnect with family and friends and harness happiness in these troubled times. They are looking for a charter experience that will allow them to escape the madness and rediscover the whole world. Here is 2021.Photo: Â© Imperial – Jeff Brown / Breed MediaThe article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of The SuperYacht Times newspaper To receive all future issues straight to your door, subscribe to the journal here.