By Lucy Chabot Reed
Expect the yachting industry to bounce back quickly when the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted, according to a panel discussion hosted online Wednesday by the International Yacht Brokers Association.
“Our clients want to get back out on their boats,” said Cromwell Littlejohn, commercial director with Fort Lauderdale-based Northrop & Johnson. “The overall mood is positive. A couple boats in the sales pipeline, negotiations are ongoing after sea trials and we expect to close on them in the coming weeks. And brokers are still showing boats, and doing it properly.”
IYBA hosted the 30-minute webinar, “Responding to Challenging Market Conditions”, to discuss what brokers were hearing from their clients and how this downtime might impact the sales process moving forward. The webinar attracted more than 500 industry professionals listened in on the 30-minute webinar, many streaming comments that they appreciated the discussion and looked forward to more.
“People are home and they are doing their research,” said Abbey Heimensen, director of marketing with MarineMax. “When those calls come in, follow up. Those people are very, very serious. … These people are standing there, waiting, so we have to call them. They are ready.”
Littlejohn expects that if the restrictions are lifted early enough in the summer, that the charter season should rebound “nicely”. Many charters have been rescheduled instead of cancelled, and contract addendums will allow further reschedulings if ports don’t open. Northrop & Johnson will waive the cancellation fee for trips cancelled because of COVID, and it will include trip cancellation insurance for charters booked this month.
In terms of sales, the brokerages said this downtime in the economy is the perfect time to get back to basics.
“I told them [NJ brokers] to mind your darned business,” Littlejohn said. “That’s mind, with a D. Reach back out to your clients, respectfully right now. This is a great opportunity to get back to what we should be doing all the time.”
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.