Is it time for a growth in domestic yacht charter? Our survey results gives hopes for just that!
About a week and a half ago we launched a very short survey to gauge attitudes to heading abroad to charter a yacht, and indeed to doing so here in Ireland. We primarily surveyed our past customers, but were delighted to say a wider response was received.
The main aim was to generate some date to get a discussion going around the prevalence of yacht charter options in Ireland. We’ve a fantastic coastline, and a relatively well developed set of marinas and harbours, especially around the East and South Coast.
We were thrilled to say that we also had many people in the industry getting in touch, and are looking forward to working with these contacts together to develop a wider benefit to all in the marine industry.
We summarise the findings of the survey here, and outline what the next steps could be.
Dramatic Reduction in Plans to Charter Abroad
Firstly, we qualified if the respondents had either previously chartered a yacht or would be likely to do so in the future. Nearly all respondents could be categorised as such. Of those surveyed, over 40% indicated that they would be less likely to charter abroad on 2020 or 2021.
Growing Appetite for Domestic Charter
Over 50% of respondents said they were now more likely to charter a yacht in Ireland in 2020 or 2021. This presents the domestic industry with an opportunity to show off what we’ve all got to offer.
How can we make chartering easier?
We asked all respondents what would make chartering easier. We received a wide range of challenges that were coming up when chartering. We deal with them in order of prevalence.
Value for Money
Value for money came in as the number one concern. There was a mixture of general comments that this is the main factor they consider, as well as some criticism of pricing already on offer. For this concept to develop, pricing will be the first thing to get right. Saving on air travel are quickly eaten into when you consider the twin factors of generally low airline fares and domestic travel costs. The Irish Market will have to offer comparative prices to what one can avail of in the Mediterranean to pass the value test.
Access, Availability and Flexibility
The was a strong desire for a more a-typical charter experience, ranging from weekend hops to two week long experiences, and everything in between. The market demands flexibility on number of days, and indeed wants clear pricing displayed for all the options, not to mention clear indications of availability at point of enquiry online. Some respondents indicated they struggled to find options in Ireland online.
Quality of Yacht and Service
What’s on offer overseas is usually top of the range, brand new equipment. By contrast, there is not the scale of the market in Ireland, either in terms of charter bookings of second hand demand to be constantly cycling the fleet. The constant refrain from quality. Our personal view is that quality can be maintained, but requires effort and professional management. Spending a bit more time on handovers, and having a responsive troubleshooting service would alleviate a number of the concerns expressed. Limited choice in range of vessels also featured.
Skills Gap and Perception Challenges
As would be expected, skippering on your own can be daunting. There’s no better way to learn than by giving it a go, but general supports can be developed. We’ll be exploring how we can assist in bringing these gaps either with short targeted training or in broader schemes.
Shoreside Facilities and Marinas
We’re getting quite far down the list, and of course the old chestnut of lack of marina rears its head. We were amazed that we didn’t record higher instances of this being mentioned, given that its high up the list of issues mentioned when this sort of topic is broached. While our survey is a relatively small one, less than 10% of respondents felt this was a barrier to chartering in Ireland. While work on developing Ireland’s marina network would undoubtably be welcome, maybe we can focus on getting the rest of the ducks in a row, especially as they are the lower cost, higher benefit jobs.
You were waiting for this one, weren’t you! So, it’s not the Mediterranean or the Bahamas, but residents of Ireland know this. We won’t convince everyone but judging by the feedback we got we don’t need to convince the majority. Interestingly, a few weather sceptics suggested that this could be overcome with competitive pricing, or even some flexibility on start and return dates.
What else was said…
The industry generally (both in Ireland and internationally) would benefit for clear training/qualification requirements for the skipper. We hear this one regularly enough in the school office, companies have a policy, so publish it.
Finally, we several submissions raised the challenge of putting crew together. Is there an opportunity for co-ordination by providers on this?
What’s our next steps…
We’re reaching out to colleagues in the marine sector to see if actions can be developed on some of the points raised above. The whole Irish marine industry can benefit from a bounce in domestic marine tourism demand, so actions taken collaboratively can likely yield the best results. A
The south coast is already being served in this market, our friends in Sovereign Sailing are an excellent example. Our survey indicates demand exists on the East Coast, so to get the ball rolling we’re developing a charter scheme that would work with existing yacht owners and involving management and logistics inputs from the school team, and profit sharing between the parties.
The challenges of bringing perceived skills gaps is another we’re ready to rise to. New programmes are being developed, and may even be commenced online over the next month or so.
Ultimately, we’d love to see even a small number of domestic charters get underway this year, if safe to do so. The Irish Coast Line has so much to offer from a recreational as well as personal development perspective. While we’re sure foreign sun-holidays will be back in fashion, we’re more than confident that Ireland can compete (albeit on slightly different offerings). We’re willing to offer extensive support, interested trailblazers wanted!
Short Survey Results Presentation...
What we have on offer...
We already have a yacht charter offering, with several yachts and sailing boats of different shapes and sizes available. We'll be overhauling our offering over the next while based on the results of this survey, but in the meantime, check out what we have on offer. Yacht Charter Information...