As the managing partner of Ocean Independence, Peter Hürzeler (center) keeps a careful eye on yacht sales and charter trends. Two years ago, he was a guest on Megayacht News Radio, shortly after the pandemic began. Much has changed since then, of course. Interestingly, some of the changes currently in yachting have been underway for a while, Hürzeler shared with us when our editor, Diane M. Byrne, caught up with him at the recent Palm Beach International Boat Show. One particular change involves what a superyacht sales broker does.
MegayachtNews.com: In some of the information we receive from companies like yours, customers’ attitudes and ages are changing. There’s a more youthful movement in the industry. Do you think this was starting before COVID, or did it accelerate the movement?
Peter Hürzeler: We don’t have the demographics for it yet, but my gut feeling and observation would be that COVID has accelerated it. We are probably looking at five to eight years age difference on average. Which is good news, because this means there’s interest among the future generations.
MegayachtNews.com: I had an interesting conversation with a yacht builder recently who said attitudes have changed among buyers, where the yacht is no longer considered just a vehicle. It was something you got onboard to go somewhere. Now it’s much more of a seamless connection to home—they don’t see it as being any different than their houses.
Peter Hürzeler: I would not say this is a general trend. But I would say that it is something that started much longer ago. There are people interested in what you call the vehicle specification, what it can do, whatever. And there are people only interested in the experience. And this is no different among charterers or buyers. There are charterers who have no interest in any of that. It’s more like, ‘Where can we be,’ and ‘what can we do,’ and all of that. It’s not something that in my observation has been triggered by COVID. I expect that the group of people who think the vehicle is important is going to get smaller. There are so many other things, other than ‘she does 30 knots’ or whatever—it’s more what you want to do. We can see that happening over time. That is already a very clear market.
MegayachtNews.com: Are charter clients still heavily relying on your team to give them ideas of what they can do? We find buyers have become more educated by looking things up online and reading as much as possible. Do charterers also do that?
Peter Hürzeler: I would say that the charterer, the clever charterer, does listen more to his charter broker because there is so much to organize around the charter that gives an extra benefit. I’m not saying the sales broker doesn’t add benefit, but you can find a lot online on the ‘vehicle.’ By the way, the role of the sales broker has changed a lot. We don’t need sales brokers anymore to describe to the client what’s available, or the technical specifications, because most of it you’ll find online. So, it is more how to position a yacht in the market against another yacht that’s also an opportunity. What is the value of this versus that? So all the things that are not one dimensional, and need a bit more knowledge, that’s where the sales broker can add value.
Ocean Independence oceanindependence.com