At this year’s Monaco Yacht Show, we caught up with Geoff Moore from West Nautical.
Geoff Moore is the Managing Director of West Nautical based in the United Kingdom. West Nautical are a global specialist in sales, charter and management of luxury yachts and superyachts.
We found out how the past year has been for West Nautical and the charter market, what he predicts for the 2022 Caribbean and Mediterranean season and found out Geoff’s opinion on charter tips for superyacht crew.
What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the charter market?
The initial impact was mass panic and mass hysteria. Owners would do anything they could to keep charters. They offered to postpone to the following year and returned all money except the initial deposit. Customers were happy with this as they usually still wanted something to look forward to. They offered discounts across the board until around July, as the owners were pretty keen to keep their superyacht chartered.
Once July came, and people could travel again, a very odd flip occurred. Suddenly, everyone wanted to charter a yacht! From an owners point of view, they saw this as an opportunity to raise their prices. There were also a lot of previous luxury cruise customers now looking at the yachting industry and chartering a private yacht. Superyachts offered a concept of safety during the pandemic, meaning we have gained new customers. With the company spending much less on travel, we have saved a lot this year!
What do you forecast the charter market doing in the up-and-coming Caribbean and next Mediterranean season?
The Caribbean charter market was dying down, but this year, it started to pick up again. However, in general, there are fewer and fewer yachts going there. There are various reasons for this, cost, dockage, fuel, crew cost, and difficulty getting visas for the US Virgin Islands. However, due to supply and demand, there is more interest in the yachts that are going. The Antigua show will still be jam-packed, it seems, especially with attendees from America. But, with European attendees, it seems less so. Hopefully, the Mediterranean charter market will be back to normal next year, though, due to the likes of vaccine passports.
What type of superyacht is most in demand? e.g. explorer yachts, new builds, classics, above 50m, above 80m etc. and why?
Lower ranked yachts are more in demand. This is because an expensive cruise costs between £20K to £40k for one cabin. This can get you a whole yacht. New yachts are always in demand, too, but they are currently facing a knock-on effect from previous charters that were rolled over. Therefore, the most booming sector in the market is currently small yachts with roughly five cabins.
From a captain and ownership perspective, what makes a charter yacht stand out?
Things that will always stand out are water toys. This is because they look good in the imagery. Photos of families enjoying themselves with activities and toys such as inflatables and slides make the customer want to go on that yacht even more. A picture of a yacht full of toys, fun and laughter is better than a beautiful but blank canvas. Food is important too, but it is also very subjective.
What are the most common facility requests by charter guests? e.g. Spa, gym, toys etc.
It comes down to their budget and preference. If clients have £200,000 to spend, you can get a spa and gym, but it depends on their perspective. To fit this stuff in, you may have to go older and bigger as opposed to newer and smaller. But, some clients may prefer newer over bigger. The most in-demand things, however, are probably the chef’s ability and water toys. You can do a lot of workouts without having a set gym now, so they aren’t in demand as much. Spa requests are also not as common anymore with shore-side companies that can come on board.
Have you had any extravagant requests from prospective charters that stick in your mind?
It is just the demand for impossible. And, because somehow we manage to pull it off, guests think it’s normal. So they ask again, and it gets more complicated. But, it’s like water off a duck’s back, and you get used to it!
What is West Nautical’s opinion when it comes to charter tips? Should they be written into the contract, or should it be down to guest discretion?
A lot of the time, the crew deserve more than they get. But, because it’s subjective, it’s hard to put it in the contract with a fixed fee. On some central agencies, a discretionary tip has been put in place, expected to be between 10 and 15 per cent. But, it, unfortunately, can’t be contracted.
There have been a lot of changes around the world for businesses because of the pandemic. Are there any significant changes West Nautical has had to make?
I would say that digital marketing is vital, and social media has a significant impact. Health and safety and quality time are also massive things. In particular, West Nautical has hired more people over the pandemic and did not need to furlough anyone. We have been very fortunate.
What’s the most exciting New Build you have seen here at Monaco this year?
Personally, it’s the Artifact, it’s so out there, and that’s what grabs the attention. It’s a perfect size, and its modern architecture and interior really stand out from other yachts. Other than that, I would say the more eco-friendly yachts built with greener technology are fantastic.
Do you have a personal favourite Superyacht currently available for charter?
Other than our Lady M, of course, I would say it is all about the crew. Knowing the difference the crew can make is vital. Due to the crew and their service, it would have to be Arience. From an actual yacht perspective, something like the Sanlorenzo 52 Lady Lena or Seven Sins due to the layout with the beach club and the swimming pool. Everything is in one place, so you don’t need to split your group up if you don’t want to.
We hope you all enjoyed this interview with Geoff Moore from West Nautical as much as we did!
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