Blowing the socks off Millennial buyers


The Monaco Yacht Show is always a fun place to visit. Not only are there some truly beautiful yachts, but the outfits of some of the attendees are worth going for alone.

The past 10 years have been tough for the superyacht market. So tough that few male attendees can afford socks and many appear to have also pawned their top shirt buttons to survive. But things are definitely improving.

Even if you discount the Trade Show Effect – where attendees talk their own business up at champagne receptions and convince themselves that everything is great (as seen at the majority of yacht and business jet shows since 2008) – they are still correct.

Brokers and shipyards are seeing more enquiries and there is a lot of optimism that 2019 will be a good year. There were a significant number of owners at the show and a few banks involved in superyacht finance (at least compared to business jets) have seen a significant increase in enquiries in the past six months – after a couple of quiet years. Potential buyers are fed-up of holding off and are now ready to commit.

As with business jets, the vast majority of people actually buying yachts are experienced owners.

Stella Di Mare, a 39.67-metre beautiful explorer yacht built by Italian yard CBI Navi and designed by Umberto Fossati is a great example. The owner – an Italian businessman – started with a seven-metre yacht,  moved up to a 20-metre yacht and then a 30-metre boat before buying this one.

While this shows how addictive yachting can be – as with jets – there are concerns that younger buyers may not want to own a yacht. Several yacht managers and yards are experimenting with fractional ownership and owned yachts that are chartered as a way of serving the so-called sharing economy. Past attempts to sell shares in yachts have not been as successful as with aircraft.

One solution is to make sure that future customers are hooked as young as possible – by building yachts they want.

Although it is a serious yacht, capable of exploring any ocean, Stella Di Mare is designed to be used by the owner’s family. As well as an office and outdoor gym for adults it is kitted out with a cinema, bespoke Bellerby & Co globe to track the yacht’s progress and a family breakfast room attached to the kitchen (which is usually hidden on yachts).

“It is very much a family boat,” says Fossati, “we were designing for seven-year olds to over 75-year olds.”

There is obviously a lot less space in a jet, but this could be an idea OEMs might want to copy. Bombardier is already doing this with the kitchen– not galley – in its just certificated Bombardier 7500. But business aviation could go further.
Business jets do offer more privacy than airlines, but only until you get onboard. Anecdotally, rising corporate stars say that they often prefer the privacy of flying in first class on airline to the risk of drooling in front of their snoring boss on the company jet.

Rather than worrying about ownership, we need something to blow the socks-off millennials at business jet shows.