Coronavirus vs the US market: Identifying threats and opportunities

The state of the market has been a hot topic within the superyacht industry, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. There has been plenty of talk surrounding the superyacht market as a whole and so, for the 12th episode of the SuperYacht Times Webinar series, the topic was narrowed down to focus on the USA and what has been occurring in the region’s sizable part of the industry. Forming the discussion panel alongside co-host IYBA’s Executive Director, Paul Flannery, was Michael T. Moore, Founding Partner of Moore & Co, President of Westport Yachts Daryl Wakefield, Chuck Cashman, Chief Revenue Officer of MarineMax and Thom Conboy speaking as both Director of Sales for Heesen Yachts in North America and Managing Director USA, Ocean Independence.

Despite around 30% of the webinar attendees being situated in the USA and the remaining majority in Europe, the webinar found that 83% agreed that the US market will recover faster than the European market following the COVID-19 pandemic. This optimistic result led to a positive discussion amongst the panel, where many opportunities and only a few threats for the US superyacht market were identified. Here, is a short conclusion:2018 Palm Beach International Boat ShowPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesWhat are the potential threats to the US market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic? 

  • As identified by the IYBA, there has been a spike in cybersecurity and cyber threats - particularly as the digital working environment has been relied on more during the corona-crisis. 
  • Despite the US Government taking action to support companies in the superyacht industry that have suffered financially, there are some firms who “weren't prepared with reserves for a downturn.” However, as a result, this could lead to some consolidation - with independent companies starting to work with other “more resourceful” companies. 
  • The lack of travel and the logistics in order to do so has been a detriment to the industry's business, and not only for those in the US. The panel questioned ‘how soon will clients feel comfortable enough to travel?’

2018 Palm Beach International Boat ShowPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesWhat are the opportunities that the US market is experiencing at the moment? 

  • Where distractions and entertainment have been limited, many companies have taken advantage to find ways to work smarter, including USA boat shows, whose organisers are being questioned as to how to make their platforms work better for the industry.
  • MarineMax shared that sales amounting to under $1,000,000 have been “unbelievable” and better than expected. It is predicted that this is due to boating having remained a source of sanctuary for superyacht owners and their families. The panel consolidated in the fact that sales and market activity has remained good where possible. 
  • For charter clients in the US, there are many options to go yachting and a surge in travel is predicted once restrictions are lifted. For those foreign flag vessels that are currently not able to charter to US residents while in US waters, a collection of industry organisations are lobbying for a new legislation to “put some temporary measures in place to alleviate some of the restrictions.”

This article was extracted from the 12th SuperYacht Times Webinar. All past and future SuperYacht Times Webinars can be found in the programme here.