Airbnb for Superyachts… These new Apps want to revolutionize how you charter your boat. A digital wave is sweeping across the marine world.
It first began with taxis. Then it happened with hotels. And now it’s the turn of superyachts. A smartphone charter app that offers speed and convenience at the best possible price. Sounds good, right?
Philippe Bacou, founder of digital yacht charter platform YOTHA certainly thinks so. And believes that by making chartering easier, YOTHA “opens the way for the digital transformation of the luxury yachting industry.”
The aim is to make yacht chartering faster, simpler and more straightforward. Visitors start by taking 360-degree virtual tours and browsing pictures. They then pre-select a yacht, negotiate the charter price directly with the owner or their agent; and complete the reservation with an online transaction. Guests even benefit from YOTHA’s luxury concierge partner, Quintessentially. It all sounds simple enough.
But, the reason why yacht charter platforms can’t compete with traditional superyacht brokerage houses comes down to “simple economics,” says Jim Evans, managing director of boutique firm SuperYachtsMonaco. “If a company is offering the handle of yacht charters at a vastly reduced commission rate; then they are operating on the slimmest of profit margins and cannot offer the kind of comprehensive customer service that is required,” he says.
Face-to-face client service is king in the world of superyachts, not to mention brokers’ in-depth knowledge of the yacht, its crew and their reputation. A facility to negotiate the charter price online, supervised 24/7 customer care service. It’s this fully bespoke tailoring of a yacht to a client’s exacting requirements that has justified the standard industry commissions of 15 percent to the broker and an additional 5 percent to the central agent; compared to YOTHA’s reduced commission of 8 percent if a yacht booked directly through the platform; or 4 percent if the booking is made through a broker.
However, while it’s easy to understand that hailing a $10 taxi ride with Uber is not comparable to a booking a $500,000 yacht charter on your iPhone. There is certainly an argument to be made for revolutionizing the methods of traditional superyacht brokerage houses.
Dubbed the “Airbnb for boats,” new charter platform Borrow A Boat teamed up with central agency Ocean Independence in June 2019 to launch its sub-brand Borrow A Boat Plus. The move means that Ocean Independence’s 100-strong fleet of luxury superyachts is now available for charter through Borrow A Boat Plus around the world, alongside the platform’s existing portfolio of 17,000 vessels.