Struggling to track down the right yacht on which to spend some (or all) of the fast-approaching summer? A new digital platform, which promises to bring prospective charter clients and boat owners together with the minimum of fuss, is one to keep on the radar.
Ahoy Club is the creation of Australian entrepreneur Ian Malouf, a long-time charter yacht owner and user. In 2015 Malouf bought a 54m Baglietto yacht named Mischief, since when he has been developing a way to streamline the charter booking system to make it as quick and efficient as possible.
After using the Ahoy Club website or app to select a suitable yacht from the site, prospective charter clients make an online request to hire it (the average superyacht charter is €100,000), which, if accepted by the owner, results in an instant digital contract and payment of a 25 per cent deposit by credit card (half the usual amount required when chartering by traditional methods). The company profits by charging owners four per cent commission plus a three per cent “software fee”, compared with the traditional broker rate of 20 per cent. Malouf says the system makes it possible to book a yacht in “less than three minutes” and leaves owners in control of both scheduling and pricing.
A 24-hour concierge service is also on hand to help clients choose yachts and itineraries, while a “YOTSWAP” feature enables owners to exchange boats – meaning someone with a yacht in the Caribbean could swap with one in the Mediterranean, thus saving on fuel and relocation costs. There is also an “empty voyage” feature, which enables owners to offer short, discounted charters when their yachts might otherwise be running between ports without guests.
If the site manages to make the charter booking system more efficient, it could feasibly extend the season by allowing clients a greater choice of booking dates and enabling owners to tailor prices according to demand – meaning the time when a yacht is laid-up and not earning could be significantly reduced.