SPRING-SUMMER 2012I sea&iI75chartermarketthe industry has had to adapt to shorter lead times. That said,the 2011 summer season saw clients booking a little earlier thanthe previous summer season, and 2012 looks to be no differentas the popular yachts already have full calendars. The biggestand newest superyachts still get booked up well in advance, andclients understand that if they want a particular yacht it's notworth the risk to delay booking. Demarchelier believes that although the charter industry isemerging from the slump of 2009/2010, it will be some timebefore people change the cautious booking habits they havedeveloped. "We are pleased that many clients have started toplan ahead again, especially those interested in the larger yachts,but we still expect a lot of last-minute enquiries," she admits. Dawson says that despite the large volume of interest andenquiries they have received in the US, charterers are still slowto sign on the dotted line, and many are looking for the kind ofdeals that they were able to secure over the last few years. Shesays, "Some clients are booking early but I would say the major-ity are still taking their time."LEVELS OF NEGOTIATION One reality of the last three years has been the need for mostyacht owners to lower their charter rates and adopt a more flex-ible attitude towards charterers' requests, acknowledging thatthis is the only way to survive in a struggling market. Ownerswho have listenedto the experts and adaptedaccordingly areseeing business coming in, albeit at a lower rate than before2008. Charter managers have also had to become far moreproactive in their marketing approach towards retail brokers,rather than the previous reactive approach they were used towhen demand greatly exceeded supply. Kiernan believes that the economic downturn meant ownerswere more willing to listen to expert advice and that this trendhas continued, even since the market has picked up. "Todayowners are keen to hear how other yachts are priced and to takeadvice on where their yacht should be placed in the market,"Kiernan says. "Most charterers want to be on board in the peakmonths of July and August, as well as Christmas and New Year.We are constantly reviewing levels of demand and keepingowners up to date, and when it comes to quieter periods werecommend that owners think about reducing rates or offeringdiscounts. Looking back over the recent winter season we foundthat this worked well for owners, as it meant the yachts weregiven extra promotion and clients who would not usually haveconsidering chartering a yacht found the offers too tempting toresist. Compared to 2011, we are seeing less negotiation as bothenquiries and bookings are up. However, many owners are find-ing that some negotiation in the quieter periods - both inwinter and summer - is necessary to get deals signed." ?Photography: Jérôme Kélagopian; Bruce ThomasTaking life easy on board Jo
76Isea&iISPRING-SUMMER 2012Although most owners are willing to negotiate to securebookings, Kiernan believes that the majority do not want todevalue their product any more than it already has been. "Yachtowners and managers have adjusted their rates to the newmarket and, having done so, they are holding firm to arespectable value."On the retail side of the charter business, Dawson believesthat the level of negotiation for 2012 appears to be less than2011, however Dawson says she still tries to negotiate a char-ter rate on behalf of the charterer. "It depends on various fac-tors, such as the dates and length of the charter, the number ofcurrent bookings, the popularity of the yacht, plus the owner'sdesire and need for charter time for themselves," she says. "Owners are definitely aware of the need to negotiate. Theyappreciate that although the market is recovering there are farmore yachts being offered for charter than ever before and theyacknowledge that competition is fierce at every level," Kiernansays. "However, we are not seeing the massive discounts wehave experienced in the past. It is now more a question of com-mercial gestures or special offers, and charterers seem to behappy with that." CRUISING GROUNDSFor the last few decades at least, yachting has focused on thetraditional cruising grounds of the Côte d'Azur, Corsica, Sardiniaand Italy's Amalfi Coast and it seems that 2012 will be no dif-ferent. Trying to encourage clients, both owners and charterers,away from these traditional yachting destinations is challeng-ing, but several brokerage houses continue to promote newcruising grounds. "Last winter we had a number of yachts cruising to lesser-established cruising territories, such as the Indian Ocean andAustralasia. We promoted these heavily and we did make head-way but it was hard work," says Kiernan. "The majority of clientswant the ultimate yachting experience at their destination, witheverything from beaches and secluded coves to top restaurants,bars and boutiques. The lesser-visited cruising grounds do offersomething different but only a handful of clients are willing totravel further for the experience." Kiernan goes on to explainthat many of the yachts that explored further afield for the lastwinter season have returned to the Mediterranean in anticipa-tion of a busy summer. Demarchelier says that they have seen a lot of enquiries forthe Eastern Mediterranean for summer 2012 charters. "We havereceived considerable interest for the Adriatic and Aegean; moreso than in previous years. But the Amalfi Coast is also as popularas ever." Dawson concurs, "From my experience so far this year,there are the normal enquiries for the South of France, but alsoquite a lot for Croatia and the Adriatic and southern Italy."