For many charter operators, a uniform fleet creates efficiency. Even if you don’t participate in many regattas, it can be easier to maintain multiple boats when they’re all the same model or make. Not to mention turnover is easier, and it can be less stressful for your crew.
For your guests, a uniform fleet means they know exactly what they’re getting when they rent with you. But as charter guests change, could a diverse fleet help improve your bookings and your bottom line? We’ve compiled some pros and cons to help you assess whether a diverse fleet could benefit your business.
Pros of a diverse fleet
For years, most charter guests were trained sailors looking to crew their own bareboat rentals. However, as the charter business expands, more “nautical newbies”—guests who have never sailed before—are seeking out charter rentals.
For these guests, the experience is a bigger selling point than the boat, so the pictures and size of a boat likely matter more than the make and model. If you’re targeting these customers, variety could be key to attracting new guests.
“Because we have different types of boats, we can offer a much wider choice for different clientele,” says Jelena Jakus, Sales Manager at Sail Croatia. Sail Croatia started with an owned fleet of Jeanneaus, she explains, before switching to a diverse fleet of privately-owned boats under their management. Having more choices has helped them attract new clients, in addition to their regulars, she says.
It can also be a selling point for investors, who appreciate that a company can be flexible if trends or preferences change. Using yacht charter management, instead of purchasing yachts outright, helps them adjust more easily. For instance, the current trend seems to be more toward onboard activities and entertainment. “What they really prefer is not the boat itself, it’s all the equipment on the boat,” says Jakus.
Cons to a diverse fleet
Of course, there are cons to a diverse fleet as well. When it comes time to purchase a yacht, buying a large number of boats from one manufacturer can lead to substantial savings. Not only do manufacturers tend to offer deals, but the parts and repairs are often more predictable. A streamlined fleet can save you money long-term on maintenance.
Additionally, if you have guests who charter with you year after year, they may have a particular preference or be used to a certain model. Changing your fleet could jeopardize those long-standing bookings.
One workaround for the cost issue might be a charter management system, where you manage boats owned by individuals, instead of purchasing boats outright.
Finding the right diversity for your area
Of course, it’s important to understand what sort of diversity your guests are looking for. For example, even if you have a wide variety of monohauls, a client who doesn’t know boats and is looking for a motor yacht might still feel like your fleet lacks diversity.
The key to figuring out the right mix of boats is often to assess what your current guests prefer while also evaluating what types of boats might attract new customers.
If you ask your guests to fill out a review after sailing with you, consider adding some questions about boat make and model, such as if they’re looking for additional variety.
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the boats in your area. Are certain types of boats consistently selling out? Or perhaps there’s a gap you might be able to fill—if no one in your areas is offering catamaran rentals, you might be able to win guests simply by giving them the option.
Every charter company is different, based on its location and the needs of its guests. Whether or not you diversify your fleet, consistently evaluating whether you have the right mix of boats for your clientele can help you stay ahead of the curve.