Heather Hatcher is the Director of Charter Management at IYC, the International Yacht Company, with offices all over the world. She works with yacht charter brokers and clients who wish to charter an IYC yacht, and helps with creating itineraries for those who wish to take week or longer cruises worldwide. She is a young woman who knows the yacht world, and knows the UHNW and UUHNW client’s needs and wants quite well.
We were fortunate to converse with Ms. Hatcher about the effects of Covid on the industry, and new, emerging yachting trends for 2022 and beyond.
SherpaReport: How much of an influence do you think Covid has had on the IYC charter business this year?
Ms. Hatcher: Though we are consistently distressed about Covid and its effects on so many, this disease seems to have increased interest in our charter and in our yacht sales. Our business has increased dramatically since 2019-2020. We have seen a 50% booking increase since 2019, and with sales, we have recently sold eight yachts, whose average price is in the $10,000,000 range. In addition, right now, everything is booked, and have been so for several months. Nothing is available until January 2022.
SherpaReport: What are the general price point ranges that IYC charges for high end yachts that holds a family of, say, six or seven for a full week to go to the Caribbean?
Ms. Hatcher: For a 140-foot yacht, with crew, runs about $150,000 a week. Usually, new UHNW charter clients start out in the 20 (65 ft.) to 40 (131 ft) meter range, and then move forward into the larger mega yacht range. They receive a crew, a private chef creates a menu, or often, a menu that guests ask for. For eight people, paying $45-50,000 a week, the experience is a great one, comparable to, but in many ways, often better than the high-end resort or residence experience.
SherpaReport: Can you explain further?
Ms. Hatcher: I meant that on one of our yachts, the guests experience the amenities of a high-end resort, or residence, or hotel, but with much more personalized service from our crews. You can really have a true vacation – with the sea in front of you, with water toys to explore, with no worries about dinner or food, and you are with friends. You can gather or separate, be social or have solitude. The crew is nearby, always able to help.
SherpaReport: When you and your staff create charter itineraries, what is the most complex dimension you deal with in a consistent manner?
Ms. Hatcher: It is the weather! We always let our clients know that we are always vigilant about the weather. Often in the Caribbean, there are winds, and often going through the Panama Canal, there are winds and waves. But we are always looking at weather, and always have different routes or strategies if one is challenged by weather.
SherpaReport: In 2021, what have been the most popular locations, and have these locations changed due to COVID?
Ms. Hatcher: We have found some interesting things – in 2021, the Bahamas increased 92%, but this past Summer, our New England charter business increased 131%. We assume that due to Covid, many wanted to stay closer to home. That said though, many others wanted to go to the south of France, the western Mediterranean – starting out in Nice and cruising into Italy.
SherpaReport: Do you see location requests change or at least modify when looking ahead in 2022?
Ms. Hatcher: We have seen a few but one is very interesting: The Red Sea, in Saudi Arabia. Granted it is the warmest sea in the world, and beautiful, so we can understand why many want to travel to see and swim in it.
SherpaReport: Also, during this past year, have you seen change requests in the most popular or preferred sizes or types of yachts? For example, are bigger, more spacious ones popular or are people looking at ones with smaller numbers of berths, because they have smaller groups driven by COVID.
Ms. Hatcher: Usually, as was mentioned before, those who have not experienced a yachting vacation – whether or not Covid was a factor—try smaller yachts to begin with– then graduate in size to larger ones. The groups often (not always) start as two to four couples, then they experience the yacht vacation, and come back with more friends, and/or with more family. The multi-generational dimension has become very important this year.
SherpaReport: We know that eco sensitive and wellness aspects of the travel experience have become evolved aspects of the guest experience Do you see this also in charter yacht travel and if so, how?
Ms. Hatcher: Yes, owners have become more conscious of the eco-friendly aspects of their yacht asset. Now, we see more engine scrubbers, or the technical term, exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), that are used to remove harmful elements from exhaust gases, especially sulphur. In addition, there are carbon offset programs and many yachts have reusable water systems.
SherpaReport: Finally, what are IYC’s charter competitive differentiators and how do those differentiators help with IYC’s brand expansion in 2022-2023?
Ms. Hatcher: I can think of many differentiators, but the two I find most compelling, and helpful to all our charter guests are our international footprint: we have fourteen offices worldwide, allowing our agents to be on the ground where the yachts sail. We have offices, for example, in Monaco, Greece, Russia, Croatia, New England and multiple other places. Our newest one, not opened yet, will be in Southern California.
And on a more personal level, the second is our crews on the yachts. They are highly trained people, who will help with any want or need that the guest has. They are kind, and well-educated. They are the soul of our memorable yacht experience.