Digital companies disrupt the superyacht industry


The number of digital companies or “apps” entering the superyacht chartering market is increasing, but how concerned should the more established, traditional brokers be?

With the atomic rise of online companies such as Uber and Airbnb the superyacht world in comparison has been relatively untouched, but slowly more are arising to disrupt the norm.

In May at the Monaco Yacht Club digital yacht booking service “Yotha” launched. Using an innovative, mobile platform which the company claims is the “first global online interactive marketplace that offers a direct connection between yacht owners and charterers.”

The platform allows for customers to book superyachts through their mobile phone or online and for owners to post their yachts for chartering. However, what is unique about the service is that rather than competing with brokers the system allows for them to also advertise their fleets.

“Professionals at the beginning were a little bit surprised but they rapidly realised we opened the door for facilitating chartering,” said founder and CEO, Phillippe Bacou. “More and more brokers are realising the tool is very efficient for them and they are now joining the first individual owners that came to us because they liked the concept.”

“When you are bringing a digital tool into a traditional market history shows you will meet resistance from the market because this is a new way of proceeding, but this is often the first reaction. The second reaction is that there are some good things in digital process and we better use it rather than fight against it.”

M. Bacou has worked in the yacht chartering business for 15 years so has an excellent understanding of the industry. He knows the difficulties brokers face so wants to ensure that Yotha is seen as a partner rather than as a competitor.

By creating several commission structures Yotha ensures the customer gets a favourable price and the broker’s commission is left unaffected when they make a sale through the platform. Everyone walks away happy.

Fiona Maureso, charter director at Northrop & Johnson said: “I’m standing on the sideline, it’s a very clever idea. Whether it work or not I don’t know.

“My feeling is if you are going to spend quarter of a million euros on your holiday to spend time with your children, I don’t think you would pay by credit card to an online company without speaking or meeting first.

They are very expensive holidays and there’s a lot more to it than just booking a yacht. But I do think there’s room for everyone.”

Yotha have been granted the highest level of international compliance that guarantees a 100% secured reservation process.