The Singapore Yacht Show (SYS) is now widely hailed as Asia’s most important yachting and boating industry event. It also includes the Asia Pacific Superyacht & Boating Conference (APSBC), which brings together industry leaders to discuss the best ways to create a cohesive market that maintains its current momentum, and to identify and expand areas of growth within the Asian Pacific region.
In this interview Derani Yachts talks to Andy Treadwell, Managing Director of Singapore Yacht Events, the company responsible for staging the show.
Yes, the most important – and the most difficult – part of the marketing campaign is the visitor marketing. We are focused on HNWI only to the extent that the superyacht element of this show is very important – it started as a Superyacht show, because that’s the sector we were associated with through the Monaco Show, the Superyacht Cup, Abu Dhabi and so on – and it is really the main platform in the region for the larger yachts. However, we made a conscious effort to expand the scope this year to encompass the small boat industry as well, from entry level up.
So we do focus on the HNW folks at one end, but we equally focus on the rest of the market too. You don’t have to be a billionaire or even a millionaire to own a boat; in this part of the world it is really relatively inexpensive. Look at the cost of property, or cars! Even if you look at the cost of fine wine – boating is certainly not exclusively for the rich.
So we’re marketing to everyone potentially interested in the marine leisure sector. How do we do it? I’m obviously not going to give away all our trade secrets, but primarily through partnerships. You have to have a certain background, experience, and credibility to do this, but since taking the show independent from Informa, we’ve now got an extremely good team. We spend a lot of time and effort finding the right kind of partners who will have the right kind of contacts. It’s a bit like network marketing: we’re looking for people who know people who’ve got access to people, who will at the end of the day all benefit mutually from being able to invite people to the show.
The specialised media partners we have are not only yachting magazines; it’s all of the magazines that reach the right kind of people. And newspapers: in a region where yachting and boating is relatively unknown, it’s all about exposure, about “education”; so any medium that spreads the word and informs people about exciting new leisure interests that are available. I know it looks as though the boating scene is thriving here – all four marinas in Singapore seem full, and in Phuket it’s similar story, but it’s still a very small and undeveloped industry in Asia. I was informed recently that there are more boats in one marina in France than there are in the whole of Asia!
Where people have got wealth and love lifestyle, boating and yachting is a really fun element that you can easily add to that. So we have to do a lot of informing, and gain a lot of exposure. That might be through the Saturday newspapers, for example – not just yachting magazines, because the only people who are going to read those are existing boat owners!
We also approach clubs and associations – we look for high-level golf clubs, polo clubs, and so on in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and all over; there are all sorts of ways to develop partnerships. And this doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a financial implication; it’s about, what can we do for you that would please all the people that you know? And what can you do for us? It’s quite a simple equation to put together.
There are really three or four main objectives. Our aim is principally to introduce new buyers in a new market to the existing global industry, who need to find new avenues to grow their business – especially to compensate for the relative slowdown in the U.S and Europe.
Secondly, we’re trying to find people who have the disposable income, and would love the lifestyle if only they were introduced to it. We’re offering them a new pastime that is great fun, extremely healthy, and enables them to show off!
And thirdly – something that will help the previous two – let’s not forget the people in the large boat market, the existing superyacht owners. 70% of them are based in the Mediterranean in the European summer, and go West to the Caribbean for the winter season.
We are trying to persuade them to come East to Asia – it’s not too far, it’s perfectly safe if you take the necessary precautions, and there’s a whole new world to discover here. So we’re trying to get that across, because the more big boats coming this way, the more exposure there is for the local population, and for the whole industry here. And the more boats there are here for charter – and of course, at the big end of the market, chartering a yacht is the best way to start – the more education and exposure there is to people who’ve got a lot of money and are interested in this new lifestyle.
The other objective, of course – which is why we’re backed by the tourism board – is to bring the economic impact that yachting industry creates. Yachting tourists are by far the biggest spenders – I think the next biggest tourism tier is golfing, but the spend is way lower. Yachting makes a huge impact on the economy of any developing country.
Let’s look at an event we used to do in Palma de Mallorca, the Superyacht Cup. One year – 2006 or 2007 – the local government measured the economic impact by questioning the owners and captains of the group of superyachts that we brought to Palma for the regatta. Many of them came from Europe, but some came all the way from the US or the Caribbean – and if you take a big boat half around the world for an event, with all the cost – which is huge, probably a quarter of a million dollars at least – then you leave it there for a while. The owner enjoys it whilst he’s there, and then charters it out. All these people spend a lot of money. One captain told me recently that he spends over $100,000 per year on flowers alone, for all the times when the owner or charter guests are on board! Then captains need to organise all the refitting and repairs to be done locally, too. Obviously there have to be all the facilities and infrastructure, but assuming that this is in place, the economic impact going to the local economy of our event was measured as roughly a million dollars on average per yacht. This estimate has been borne out by many other surveys.
Continue to part II: Singapore Yacht Show Interview