The march of the world-wide web over the past years has transformed the way that yachts are presented to potential owners. During a long career in yacht brokerage the writer has seen delivery of information change from black and white photocopies of details with colour photographs stuck onto it, winding its way painfully to a buyer by the lovely Royal Mail, to instant delivery of information world-wide, available to the buyer 24/7.
However in the past few years, moving imagery in the form of video has hit the scene and we predict that in the next 2 years the majority of yacht information will rely on the use of moving imagery of some description. Of course the technical specification and still photographs will continue to have an important place, but these will assist as part of the research process, as buyers drill down into information to decide if they want to take their interest further.
The way that prospective buyers search for yachts has changed hugely and whereas in the past many miles were travelled and boatyards tramped through in search of the right yacht, most yacht search is now accomplished wearing slippers rather than deck shoes, and the viewing of a yacht only occurs when she is close to the top of the list. We are surprised how far many buyers travel on their journey towards yacht ownership, without ever stepping aboard the yachts that they are considering, or the classes of yachts that they have shortlisted.
On paper it is very difficult to get an idea of a yacht spatially and how she really works for you. Of course whilst no substitute for stepping onto the deck, video can really help with this. The technology is improving all the time and it is now starting to gain prominence as front line sales material.
Recognising this, here at Berthon we now have our own resident professional photographer, Harry, with a lot of experience with film, and he has been able to fill the gaps in our knowledge as far as this important new medium is concerned. He is increasingly found on RIBs videoing yachts under way or upside down in engine rooms having been asked to record this area in detail – and in focus! And when not working for the brokers, he is busy documenting a myriad of yacht refits in Berthon’s big blue sheds.
He is also the master of 360 degree walk throughs which involves a camera and time for it to whirr around and do its work. By capturing each cabin aboard a yacht, it is possible to create a 360 degree walk through which enables the viewer to see the yacht and to examine all the features aboard at their own time – looking in detail at areas of the yacht that are particularly important to them. This is a useful tool for prospective purchasers who want a detailed overview before making an inspection. Of course it does not give the detailed pin sharp imagery of a high resolution photograph and it is not as good as viewing a yacht live – but it tells a lot about layout and the positioning of equipment. It gives a good spatial awareness, but again, it is not as good as the real thing.
Of course obviously though it sounds, yachts are bought for their abilities at sea. Conventional information can give polar diagrams, performance curves, fuel consumptions, speeds and so on. Also available are sailing shots in most cases but there is little to show how she looks on the water.
Again, Harry is able to help in this regard. Yachts that are joining us at our Lymington HQ arrive almost always by sea. This gives us the opportunity to film them as they do so. We are also able to film on deck and see the yacht’s operation at sea. This is massively helpful in seeing how the yacht looks in her natural environment and also how she is managed by her crew.
All of this clever technology makes what is euphemistically known as the `user journey’ more comprehensive than ever before and enables hours of yacht shopping without leaving the comfort of your study.
Today everyone has a camera on their trusty iPhone with video and as the technology makes it possible we see more and more yachts with amateur video and yacht details with imagery taken using mobiles and the like. This of course gives an idea of the product but we do not feel that it is good enough to present high value assets to a client base who is used to better when they are looking for their next car, plane or house.
Of course the car industry were early adopters with the funding and the foresight to utilise the march of technology. Estate agents are also at it although this is patchy. The yachting industry is coming a poor third and we need to raise our game. To be fair, the new yacht yards are now very skilful in the material that they are disseminating but the brokerage market is lagging behind.
What we have discovered is that to do a good job, there are a few vital ingredients to present yachts properly for the 21st century. To do this the essential tools are –
Professional cameraman and film maker, with the ability to take great shots and importantly to edit the film taken, which is not a process that is picked up quickly.
These resources enable us to make the most of the yachts that we are trusted to sell. Because we have Harry on hand, the brokers are given free hand equipment, like the Osmo (always a challenge to get through airport security!) knowing that once back at our HQ in Lymington, that he can turn our efforts into professional footage.
Another important aspect of making the most of this technology, to get the results that are possible, is to prepare the yacht herself. If there is loose gear, a dubious looking cooker or unmade berths – this is seriously uncool. We also use props to dress yachts so that we add scale to interior shots, as providing an idea of the space below is key to getting the most out of these films.
We always include a set of still photographs in high resolution, so that it is possible to see in detail the general condition of the yacht and to identify areas of particular interest.
We have also discovered another great thing now that we have our trusty film maker… brokerage yachts have a narrative
– we sell yachts that do amazing things and visit extraordinary places. We are now doing a number of interviews with owners about adventures that they have had, the joy of ownership and also the refit schedules of some of the Berthon fleet.
Apart from being great fun and teaching us more about the yachts that pass through our hands, it provides valuable information to prospective purchasers and brings the yacht to life and delivers more than the old fashioned yacht particulars ever could.
However, it is also our job to be accurate and informative with the yacht particulars that we provide for the yachts that we have for sale. Whilst they have better imagery which is easy on the eye, their primary function remains to inform and to build a technical picture of the yacht, her equipment and capabilities. Funky film does not do this and cannot be a substitute for this important part of the marketing process. We are therefore also working to increase the granularity of the information that we provide.
Prospective yacht owners continue to be time poor and this new way of yacht search provides them with a huge amount of information to sift and assimilate between meetings and whilst doing other things. It also enables them to rule out those yachts that are not suitable.
However, a word of caution about this……however funky the technology or super clever your broker’s camera touting equivalent of Harry, there is absolutely no substitute for stepping aboard the yacht that you are considering. If you have the opportunity to look at similar yachts even if you have discounted them on paper, film, photograph or google…. please always do so. We see a number of prospective clients who have extremely fixed ideas about their requirements based on their research. However, a thorough assessment of their needs by us has subsequently ruled in some discarded yacht types as being the most suitable for their needs.
In addition, it should always be remembered that buying a yacht is an indulgence. She is your magic carpet to get out on the water in your leisure time. You don’t need a yacht, you would like one. A yacht is an emotional purchase and as with many major purchases in life, you can only decide if the yacht is the right one for you, if you step aboard and experience her.
So, all of this wonderful technology together with the skills to use it to its potential, is our answer to the needs of presentation and making our yachts visible and attractive in today’s market place. With this goes SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and constant updates and improvements behind the scenes. Our brokerage search facility was also rebuilt and relaunched at the end of last year and a new Windy website joined it in January 2018.
We recognise that this particular voyage of information and pictorial information is ongoing, but we feel that the good ship Berthon has now completed trials with this new equipment and is headed on the right course to make the most of the opportunities that it will bring. We will continue to uprate our offering over 2018 and beyond and we hope that you enjoy our new look yacht search, videos and all the rest.