Insight: Time for change

Written by Merijn de Waard

Back in 2007 we launched SuperYachtTimes.com because we believed that we could make the business more transparent to professionals and owners by providing up to date and live superyacht news, information and photographs. We consciously chose to exclude advertisements in these early days: making a difference was the primary goal. We knew that if we were successful, the business model would follow. I truly believe that if you want to make a change in this industry it is imperative to consider how we can contribute to improvement before looking at how much money can be made. Of course making money is very important - we have to pay our bills as well! - but I am convinced that if you change something for the good of the business, financial reward will naturally follow.

Almost two years ago we started the SuperYacht iQ project in the same way as we started SYT, with asking ourselves how we can help superyacht owners, professionals and investors make better decisions. We could follow the same model as our competitors; a market report filled with advertisements, a top list of shipyards, an inaccurate order book and an analysis that ultimately holds no value because the completely wrong information model and inaccurate data has been used. We decided we needed to change something.

Our data on superyachts is without a doubt the best in the industry, but we realised that it is not only the scope of data which is important, but also the categorisation of this data. Having spent a substantial amount of time with major yacht brokers, builders and owners over the last two years, we have created a unique new information architecture model, which in turn allows us to analyse the industry in a completely different and altogether more accurate way.

In order to provide decision making intelligence on the superyacht industry, it is essential to get three things right; the information architecture, total accuracy of data, and a meaningful analysis.

Information Architecture

The information architecture is the biggest change. Right now the information model is very simple; you collect the length, shipyard, designer and a few other details of each yacht, you count them and hope that you have more yachts in the list than the previous year, so you can report it has been an extremely good year. You can go a step further by analysing yachts in different length classes and sailing yachts separately, but your abilities of coherent analysis are still very limited.

We started back in 2014 with a clean sheet. The first things we wrote down were the two main categories on which our new information architecture is based: production information and sales information. It is extremely important to understand that the number of new additions to the order book is not the same as the number of new yachts sold in a year!

We spoke to several of the most influential yacht builders about what information they would need in order to run their business. Once we understood these needs we started to examine the information we needed per yacht and what categories we should create within the two main sections of production and sales. I will not reveal our full information model yet, but it includes build status, build stage, build time, sales listing type, sales type and more.

Data Collection

It sounds simple to collect the data needed to form an accurate order book, but the opposite is, in fact, true. With our unprecedented information model, we have to collect a vast amount of data - not just whether or not a yacht is in build and it’s length. Secondly, it is essential to record all orders per shipyard, including the confidential projects, and you have to know all the shipyards that are building one or more yachts.

With the data presented to the market right now there are two important elements that make it incredibly inaccurate. The model whereby you contact every shipyard for their order book is a good first step, but only if you already know every single shipyard who is building a yacht over 30 metres. I know for a fact that we have at least five shipyards which are building one or more yachts over 30 metres in our list who simply do not appear on any of the other lists.

Furthermore, the data collected is often not actually verified. Even though publications probably claim it has been, I still wonder how non-existent yachts end up in their data if this is the case. I will not reveal our data collection model, but I can assure you that we have five different ways of verifying the data hailing from hundreds of carefully researched and unrivalled sources.

Analysis

Analysing the order book by shipyard and country and then looking at the numbers, length and gross tonnage is the current standard. In order to present numbers on which investors, business owners and CEO’s can make actual decisions with, however, it is mandatory to delve into more detail. In the SuperYacht iQ 2016 Report we will analyse the order book per 31 December 2015 and the production and sales number over the year of 2015.

An example of how to analyse the order book is to look at the construction stage of all the projects at a certain moment in time. For example, if you have an order book of 700 yachts - which sounds great - and 400 of these yachts have been launched, then it is not a very strong order book. In the same case, you can look at how long projects have been in the order book. If there are 300 out of the 700 yachts that have been in the order book for more than 5 years, while the average construction time is 3 to 4 years, then this is also not a positive indication.

An example of analysing the yearly production is to look at the number of yachts delivered and the number of new yachts added to the order book, separated between projects started with an owner and on speculation. For sales we can analyse the number of yachts sold and all the different sales types.

Another important difference between the SuperYacht iQ Report and others is that we will not analyse the performance of individual shipyards. We will not do this because we respect the confidential projects of the shipyards. To analyse the new-build sector in-depth, it is much more interesting and beneficial to look at the production and sales as a whole instead of giving competitor-sensitive information.

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