One of the most anticipated events at this month’s industry-only charter yacht show in Genoa, Italy, was an open forum to discuss what Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association President Neil Cheston called the “crisis” of competing winter charter yacht shows in the Caribbean. The audience was filled with brokers and captains who have been forced for several years to rush around the islands each December, paying twice as much in cash and time while interests on Antigua and Sint Maarten try to put each other’s boat shows out of business.
Surprisingly, and despite much encouragement for honest comment by Cheston, the forum ended up being a subdued rehash of the situation with little consensus on how to solve the problem of one too many charter yacht shows.
Even more surprising in the context of the existing “crisis,” though, were Cheston’s statements indicating that MYBA may soon play a leading role in creating two new boat shows to compete with the brokerage successes of Fort Lauderdale and Monaco.
One possible solution to the two-charter-show problem, Cheston said, is to turn the existing Sint Maarten show into a brokerage show. Sint Maarten show representative Jeff Boyd—whose efforts thus far on that island have enjoyed support not only from MYBA, but also from International Yacht Collection and, presumably, its parent company Trinity Yachts—told the audience that his Board of Directors is open to a shift from charter to brokerage, with the first show perhaps taking place as soon as late 2010. Cheston said the idea would be to allow yachts an option to head from the Mediterranean straight to the Caribbean to start their winter seasons, without missing a brokerage sales opportunity such as the one each October in Fort Lauderdale.
Cheston also said MYBA is working to create an alternative to each September’s Monaco show, which, he said, is rumored to have earned an 800-percent profit in some years on the backs of high fees charged to yacht owners and management companies. (Cheston, in addition to being MYBA’s current president, is a broker with Camper & Nicholsons International.) The idea would be to offer owners a more reasonably priced, at-anchor brokerage show in the immediate vicinity, running concurrently with the Monaco show, perhaps as early as this fall.
The irony of discussing the possibility of two new brokerage shows at a forum to address the “crisis” of two existing and highly competitive charter shows was not lost on anyone in attendance.
And the upshot for yacht owners, I’m afraid, is at least several more years of confusion about which shows will actually offer a return on investment in terms of brokerage sales and charter bookings. Here’s hoping that the current economic climate helps to sort things out in favor of those shows that produce good results for all participants involved.
Editor’s note: Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of five books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine www.CharterWave.com. Kim also edits www.BoatNameGame.com, which invites readers to submit and comment on funny, interesting, and bizarre boat names.