Northrop & Johnson is considered one of the world’s foremost yachting authorities, with more than six decades of experience offering sale, purchase, charter, management, and new construction services for an elite clientele.
Daniel Ziriakus is the COO and President of Northrop & Johnson. SherpaReport recently spoke with Daniel and discussed how Northrop & Johnson is doing post-Covid and what he sees in the future for the yachting industry, both in terms of buying and chartering.
SherpaReport: Are there many more people chartering in the past quarter of 2021 than before?
Mr. Ziriakus: There is quite a lot of demand – We feel this has to do with pent up desire to travel in 2021. It was always there, but there were so many restrictions that clients chose to wait. Now, from an industry perspective, we are seeing a very strong 2022. As of January, our charter bookings for 2022 are already at 50% (revenue) of our entire 2021. Now we still have the entire year to book and get clients onboard yachts. 2022 will be massive year for the charter business.
We have even booked some into 2023. People generally book about a year out. And also, from our industry perspective, the increase in demand has made availability a little tighter than normal, especially with the under 60-meter yachts. With over sixty meters, well, the population for those is somewhat smaller.
SherpaReport: Have you seen clients taking longer travels than they have before? How long? Usually it is a week, but do many take longer?
Mr. Ziriakus: Our yachting clients have indeed changed: they are younger, both in charters and purchases. We also see a greater amount of intentionality than before – they come wanting to create memories, often with their children, and their families in multi-generations. And willing to spend more. In earlier times, they were more interested in how they looked, in having things: now, having great experiences is more important than having things. And as far as travel time, American charter clients usually like to travel for seven days. Those in Europe, often taken ten days or two weeks.
SherpaReport: We were told by one yacht client we interviewed last year, that the joy of chartering is that “you feel you have the high-end hotel with you at all times, on the water.” We never thought of it that way. Do you have similar feelings about the joy of chartering?
Mr. Ziriakus: Yes. With Northrop & Johnson chartering, I often say the experience is built around you. For a week or ten days, you can eat what you want, go where you want, even to distant places, to spas, anywhere, any time, the reservations are made for you. Once your itinerary is agreed on, you may have family and friends aboard, you can do activities with them, create lasting memories, and not worry about anything else.
SherpaReport: There must be challenges to both the dimensions of chartering and selling mega yachts. In both, you must know the habits, wants and needs of the UUHNW demographic. What is an awareness they must sense, when considering buying or chartering a yacht, that Northrop & Johnson knows well and can work with?
Mr. Ziriakus: They have to be engaged with us, and we with them. Part of this is the development of trust, and this is, in large part, our responsibility - matching the crew to those who charter. This is so important - personalities must relate well for engagement to happen.
We also attract more self-made men and women and families; whereas in Europe, in general, we attract more of the multigenerational wealthy.
One of the other challenges, and differences between a few years ago and now is the digitization of our industry. Our buyers and charterers know so much more about what they need and want. It is a help to us, but we have to know a lot more, because our clients know a lot more. At best, we learn from them, they learn from us. That really defines the process of engagement.
SherpaReport: Finally, we think that the whole concept of luxury and a luxury vacation has evolved - the customer often needs new head and body space, an opportunity for rejuvenation and deeper connection. As yachts are on the water, there is a natural provision for calm and peace. Do you think that this desire for this type of harmony is a motivation for 2022 yacht travel?
Mr. Ziriakus: Unlike in 2021 when the fear of Covid was all around us, it seems that in 2022, there are not as many fear curves as before. People now feel they can and need to go out and experience a charter and all it can provide: greater family time and bonding, a distance from all the clatter of modern life, and time away from worry. Time on a yacht, at sea, with the experience built around and for them, there is time to rebalance, re-engage, so the harmonics of life, often hidden in paperwork and phone calls, can again re-emerge and hopefully, remain.