Digital Yacht Shopping – How Shopping For A Yacht Has Changed

Digital Yacht Shopping – How Shopping For A Yacht Has Changed

By HMY Contributor   June 16, 2021

Advances in yacht technology have greatly accelerated in recent years, from engines to hulls to building materials to gyros, resulting in mind-blowing designs and innovation.

The way customers shop for yachts, though, hasn’t changed all that much. Boat shows, MLS, online marketplaces, dealer and broker visits, and sea trials. It was essentially the same formula.

Over the last several years, creative marketing tactics started creeping in with things like video highlight reels on social, interactive 360-tours, and more creative ways to show a walkthrough, better photography, better websites, etc. The pandemic forced those of us in the yacht business to adapt to survive as in-person meetings and viewings became challenging.

The situation challenged brokerage firms to innovate and create even more advanced digital strategies, ultimately leading to a seismic shift in how customers can shop for yachts. Now, much of the shopping process that used to happen in person is being done at least partly — and sometimes entirely — online, and online research that used to supplement in-person shopping is now the primary tool that consumers are using to decide which boat they want. In many cases, physically stepping on the yacht you’re going to buy is now the last step, not the first.

The good news? The results show customers love this new digital-first approach.

In 2021 HMY is selling a yacht every 12 hours on average - that's fast.

It’s not a surprise this is happening (after all, it’s already popular in the automotive world with brands like Carvana), it’s a surprise that it happened so quickly. And now that it’s here, it’s not going anywhere.

Of course, YachtWorld, Yatco, and other digital marketplaces have existed for years and likely aren’t going anywhere. But how brokers and dealers use them and what customers demand (more video content, more 3D virtual tours) has forever changed.

Four ways to shop for your next yacht:

1.Virtual Boat Shows

Boat shows are a blast and a great place to see tons of different yachts, connect with builders, dealers, and brokers, and enjoy a day around gorgeous luxury motor yachts and sportfishing yachts. They can also be crowded, hot, and exhausting.

One big pivot during the pandemic that’s been a hit and is likely here to stay in some form was the shift to virtual boat shows. And really, why not? We’re already attending virtual meetings and virtual conferences (with virtual breakout rooms, even). Now you can actually attend a virtual event that’s for you.

The positives are many: you can cover much more ground since you never leave your chair, and because it’s all consolidated, you save hours of time researching boats and accessories versus searching for these things individually across the internet.

Don’t worry, the deals — one of the biggest draws of boat shows — will still be there. And of course, you can still sea trial the boat at your convenience with your broker after the show.

Don’t fret, though. The big shows are coming back in person and the future will likely include a hybrid of in-person and virtual.

2.Virtual Tours

Virtual tours have come a long way and offer incredibly detailed 3D renderings of yachts that customers can meticulously explore.

Princess Yachts has one of the best 3D walkthroughs in the industry right now. Take a tour and imagine yourself in every nook and cranny.

3.Video Walkthroughs

With the increase in quality of camera phones and lower entry pricing to high-end DSLR video cameras, creating a professional walkthrough of a vessel is easier than ever.

A broker can walk through a boat, showing off its features and their expertise, just as if a customer were right there with them. The best brokers will answer common questions in the video and address any possible concerns before they’re even asked down the road. Potential customers surfing YouTube or Instagram are now one step closer to making a decision on which yacht to come see in person.

4.Video Calls With a Broker

It’s safe to say that most people are now much more familiar and comfortable with video calls than they were in early 2020. It’s a logical extension to then apply this same concept to yacht shopping.

As a customer moves down the funnel and gets closer to deciding on a yacht to purchase, a personal Facetime, Zoom, or Skype tour with a broker can help seal the deal. There, you can get answers to any questions or concerns you may have.

While the pendulum swung hard to the virtual side in 2020, it’s swinging back to center and the new normal. This will no doubt continue to include advanced digital shopping opportunities and will likely grow to include more sophisticated measures like VR and AR. This new digital shopping approach will only help customers, providing more opportunities to view more boats and ultimately find that dream yacht.

Want to learn more? Contact HMY today and let’s get started.

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