COVID and Yachting – how the industry is increasingly shifting online and how the health and travel crisis has set the ground for a digital contest

Our industry is facing an un-precedent crisis that questioned the way we do business and the necessary change to the industry going forward

The future of yacht marketing

From a physical-only business to a virtual one

While most of our industry marketing effort has always been on boat shows and print advertising, we now need to move the concept to a new support, accessible from anywhere by anyone in the safety of their home.

Yachts customers have already changed their habits:

During the pick of confinement, our brokerage clients observed +80 % traffic coming from social media, and overall +18% increase in time spent on websites and roughly 20% more traffic to websites compared to previous months. More tangibly it translated into an increase in conversion for management and yacht for sale but surprisingly enough also for charter.

In fact, for several actors of the industry, in April all inquiries were driven almost exclusively through the website rather than the traditional way through brokers.

What does that mean?

Firstly it means that driving business is no longer purely dependent on a broker network but increasingly on the capacity of the brokerage house to offer the digital awareness and experience necessary to the CA, meaning the ATTRACTIVITY and REPRESENTATION online of the products and services.

Secondly, it reveals that the industry needs to adapt much faster its selling force and offer to the digital world, what was before a nice to have is now a must-have for survival. Imagine how much bigger the market share becomes with virtually no location and language barrier, leading the path to be found directly by a lead that wants the boat you are offering and has already spent hours online doing virtual visits and going through every information.

Digital marketing yachting covid

It becomes a completely different business does not it?

Owners demand for digital

Way before the start of the COVID we observed a growing and growing demand from Owners of how yacht to market their yachts online.

Brokerage houses will be increasingly asked to justify how they will market the yacht not only in the traditional way but also online and how do they compete in those terms in the industry.

We can only expect this trend to become a new standard in the industry with the new challenges we are now facing in the health and transport crisis.

Could it lead to a shift in the industry’s leading actors?

Actors with superior digital marketing investment like Denison might be able to eventually dominate the market with a clear advance on 3D tour and digital solutions. We can expect the old leading brokerage houses which are currently dominating online through well-developed organic SEO strategy and benefiting from their long term establishment and name to lose their spot, if they don’t adapt fast. Facing the competition represented by a growing understanding of all actors of the necessity to invest in PPC, referencing and digital consultancy

Most websites are yet to be improved to follow the market trend and best practice to make the non-physical window shopping much more comfortable. This leaves plenty of opportunities for smaller brokerage houses to invest wisely in digital and take market share from the slower, bigger ones.

Indeed it is not sufficient to hire digital expert (knowing how hard it is to find good ones, considering the number of competencies required) budget also need to be invested in digital advertising with proven HNWI targeting in social, PPC, and adequate content production.

How to bring a brokerage house/business up to speed on the digital conquest

1. See digital marketing as an investment, not a cost.

Everything happening online can be tracked, every successful post made on social media lead to a considerable increase in traffic to the yacht pages, whether it is directly from social or not. Even when it is hard to prove a direct correlation between marketing and a sale, believe that most leads will compare online and will have seen your digital marketing before and after they come to you. Finally, digital marketing is seen as a competitive advantage for Owners when comparing brokerage houses to sell or charter their yacht, and the trend is growing.

2. Invest wisely

There is no way to cut on that point, brokerages would need to either hire a digital expert in HNWI products or to hire a digital consultancy business (preferably specialized in the yachting industry).

But the expert is not enough, while he/she will be able to lead the marketing team to implement organically all optimization required to lead the business to the next level, budget is required to hire a consultant and grant them budget for PPC and paid to advertise (this can hardly be done in house as the accuracy of targeting is issued of lots of testing within the same industry and as the tools to monitor the activities have a consequent cost. Also, it is unlikely to hire an expert that can do and web improvement, and social media strategy (paid and organic are completely different strategies) and PPC, and SEO. For those reasons working with a digital consultancy agency offer many advantages.

3. Be ready to make your brand evolve

Our industry is long-established, and we have designed all our brand guidelines on print advertising. The support has changed, the segmentation is changing, the tone needs to be more dynamic, minimalist, and follow the digital visual trend.

4. Define guidelines and requirement for visuals

The digital environment is ruled by visual, the aim is to create emotion in the shortest amount of time possible to lead to an inquiry. Therefore the required tone and even format need to be communicated to photographers and videographers. We still see way too much content online that is not adapted to the support. Indeed there is clear underuse of the story format which is taking over in all platforms (youtube and even google are developing the story format – the reason why is because it enables full display on a phone, which makes 50%+ of most website’s traffic.

In a world where Owners compare digital force, one of the easiest KPI for them to monitor is social media. How much engagement and follower, and how much care and quality are given to CAs. Additionally, it enables Owners to follow closely how well their yacht is being marketed. Social media is as much the brand DNA if not more than the website and can not be overlooked.

5. Social Media is at the nerve of the battle

In a world where Owners compare digital force, one of the easiest KPI for them to monitor is your social media. How much engagement and follower, and how much care and quality are given to CAs. Additionally, it enables Owners to follow closely how well their yacht is being marketed once the CA is won. Social media is as much the brand DNA if not more than the website and can not be overlooked.

Those are merely the tip of the iceberg but gives quality insight into what needs to be addressed.

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