Smaller Yachts, Shorter Terms, Instant Gratification: On-demand, short-term charters on yachts up to 115 feet is coming your way soon.
By Kim Kavin
Using nothing more than my smartphone, I can book an airline flight, a hotel room, a train seat, a private villa—even a luxury jet. And I can do it right this minute, whenever the mood strikes, sometimes scoring a high-roller Vegas suite within 30 seconds of wanting to bet a $1,000 “yo” at the craps table.
Nowadays, impatience isn’t a fault. It’s a right.
That’s the thinking behind Yachtster, a Monaco-based company that promises a charter yacht within a day of users hitting the “send” button on a computer, tablet or smartphone. You read that correctly. Yachtster says it can get you a charter yacht not with one week’s or one month’s notice, but inside of one day—and sometimes on the same day, depending on what time you click to book.
The concept is unheard of in the world of luxury yachts, and it has caught the attention of Camper & Nicholsons International, which acquired Yachtster in July as a complement to its existing business. Yachtster will offer one-day and short-term charters on boats about 115 feet and smaller with captains (and sometimes crew and chefs, depending on the boat size and the client’s needs). The Camper & Nicholsons brand, meanwhile, will continue to focus on full-week and longer charters aboard bigger, traditionally crewed yachts.
Today, Yachtster has about 40 boats available along the French Riviera, primarily in Monaco, St. Tropez and Cannes. Users can scroll through them online, seeing each boat’s per-day rate and even planning itineraries and menus in a click-to-book way. Yachtster is now adding boats in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and across the Greek Isles, and during the Miami International Boat Show in February, an expansion is expected to be announced into Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
The goal is to have at least as many boats available for book-it-now charters on the North American side of the pond as there are at any given time in the Med.
“We wanted to enlarge our experience in charter and test this new formula,” says Paolo Casani, who was named president of Camper & Nicholsons International in August and will be responsible for Yachtster’s rollout worldwide. “With Yachtster, you can book a boat today with your iPhone—in very few seconds. It’s very interesting. The industry has to be renovated a little bit. This is something that goes in that direction.”
One of the benefits of smaller-boat, short-term charters is that clients can enjoy them year-round, Casani says. This past September, for instance, when the superyacht charter business in the Med was fading to its usual, end-of-season denouement, Yachtster was still receiving the same volume of inquiries as it did in mid-summer. People sitting at their desks on Friday morning simply decided they wanted to charter for a day or two over the weekend, and they paid no heed to the charter industry’s traditional ebbs and flows.
To reach these types of clients—who may never have considered weeklong charters on larger yachts—Casani says Yachtster will rely heavily on social media. Price point alone makes the audience far wider for smaller-yacht, shorter-term charters, and Casani believes mass marketing through channels like Facebook and Twitter will bring new clients into the charter mix.
“The number of customers has been reduced over the last six or seven years. We have to understand how to look for new leads,” he says. “A company like Yachtster has to be a kind of trendsetter, not a follower. We want to be an innovator.”
For more information: yachtster.co