Would a cross-industry superyacht trading app do the Job(s)?


Image courtesy of Creative Commons

NOTE: The below originally appeared as the editorial in our April 7 Superyacht Investor Insight newsletter. To find out more, and sign up for free, please fill out the form to the right.


It’s extremely difficult to comprehend now, but when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world, he was especially proud of the fact that it didn’t really support apps. Jobs instructed developers back in 2007 that they were welcome to build software for the iPhone if they wanted, but they should do it inside the web browser.

Jobs may have almost crushed the way we trade through online platforms.

So why is Superyacht Investor hung up on the app conundrum this week? We’ll give you a quick explanation.

Our sister publication Corporate Jet Investor recently wrote a piece on the private jet app JetSmarter, and it got us thinking why a cross industry app doesn’t exist for the superyacht sector? If the business jet industry can spawn an industry-wide trading app, then why is there not one for the superyacht industry – if not sales, why not charter?

Like many industries the superyacht sector suffers from competition stifling connectivity. Why would you join an online mobile app or platform that would also recognise your competitors?

It’s a question we posed to Geoff Moore, managing director of West Nautical. Although Moore thought there was “scope” for such an app, in the cold light of day he thought it was “not impossible” but probably “improbable in the current market”.

Moore was of the opinion that it would only work on a certain price range of yachts and that it “would never be considered for the middle to top tier of yachts” due to the amount of money that would change hands and the involvement of added companies and third parties.

“Selling an empty leg for jets is usual, it is a tried and proven business and there are companies that specify in only this. But it is last minute, and generally for business use and not leisure,” Moore said.

“The vast majority of yacht charters are for leisure, and not business, and so bookings are earlier and in advance. You wouldn’t expect someone to book a hotel or villa holiday and then wait till a week beforehand to book the flights, and the same goes with last minute yacht charters.”

He may have a point.

When it comes to the lower end of the market, Moore says this is much more likely. “There may be some good opportunities on lower priced yachts for last minute charters, or an ’empty leg’ charter if the yacht is relocating for another booking, but the practicality of booking such an expensive leisure activity via an app or a client understanding fully the ins, outs and costs of a charter and the taxes all reduce the likelihood of a customer actually making a booking using this medium.”

“The only way to really tell if it would work would be for someone to invest the time and money into developing a suitable platform, and then for charter managers and yacht owners to agree to let their yachts be represented in such a way. Only then would we know if there are customers for such a service,” Moore said.

The complexity of the superyacht market and the amount of money that changes hands for your average trade may create a barrier for entry for such an app, or cross-industry trading platform, but are we sure that such a system is that improbable? We’d love to hear your views.

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