How is Your Yacht Brokerage Adapting to the Digital Age?

You may have noticed that we have a lot more catamarans for sale in the last six months than we had in the previous two years. While we still sell a fair amount of this inventory every month, new catamarans come to market almost daily. The reason being that more people are selling their catamarans because they have either come to the end of their “Covid” hiatus or their circumstances changed, and the boat does not fit into that plan anymore. Consequently, the market has shifted from a seller’s market to a very strong buyer’s market. Sellers do not see the very inflated prices from even a year ago anymore and many must adjust to accommodate this influx of catamarans onto the market. 

It also puts the burden on the listing broker to go the extra mile to market the boat in the best possible way to the most likely buyers possible. Unfortunately many brokers still rely on mostly the MLS listing sites to do the work for them and the results are not great. The landscape has change and brokers have to adjust their marketing strategy to reach a wider audience.

The Winds of Change Are Blowing for Yacht Sales

This highlights a hot topic in the marine industry currently; how brokers market boats for sale and what role if any, the MLS-sites play in this process. Traditionally, yacht brokers relied heavily on MLS platforms like Yachtworld to sell boats, but as the digital landscape shifts, they are increasingly turning to social media and alternative methods and marketplaces to cast a wider net and connect with a more diverse audience. Video in particular connects with people on a level that the traditional methods cannot and, if the content is sincere and believable, creates a powerful emotional connection between consumer and broker that will outlast any printed ads and will cultivate a loyal following. 

Alternative Yacht Sales MLS-sites

MLS sites are still important and should be used to showcase listings. But while Yachtworld was once the go-to platform for yacht listings, we have lately seen dissatisfaction among consumers. In response, the industry is witnessing a shift away from these traditional platforms towards newer, more consumer-friendly alternatives. We also embraced these platforms, and expanded the use of association driven MLS-sites. 

One such alternative gaining traction is The International Yacht Brokers Association (IYBA) has partnered with other marine industry associations to offer an alternative solution. This not-for-profit, association-owned marine marketplace and others alike, are growing in leaps and bounds and promises the user an improved experience like

  • a modern seamless online user experience
  • no clutter of third-party advertising
  • no hidden software tracking your searches
  • your personal information is not sold to 3rd parties
  • allows sellers and brokers to maintain intellectual property.
  • provides access to a vast network of yacht listings worldwide with more companies joining every da

Brokers Harness Social Media to Engage with a Wider Audience

We invested in technology early on and persued social outlets to market listings and attract buyers. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest have emerged as powerful tools for yacht brokers. By leveraging visually compelling content, providing valuable and useful information and engaging storytelling, we have captured the attention of a broader audience and have tapped into the aspirational desires of potential buyers. We reached individuals who may not have been exposed to traditional marketing channels like an MLS site or yachting magazines and we have seen our audience grow exponentially.

Creative Outreach Efforts Leads to Improved Customer Experience

Beyond social media, we’re actively exploring alternative marketplaces to broaden our sales channels. Platforms such as YouTube, specialized social groups, forums, and online marketplaces present fresh opportunities for showcasing listings and forging connections with potential buyers. We leverage these platforms extensively to actively engage with our audience and expand our reach.

In addition to our online efforts, we’ve extended our outreach by organizing mini boat shows, local open house events, and virtual educational seminars to ignite interest and draw in potential buyers. These gatherings consistently draw enthusiastic attendance and garner positive feedback from both buyers and sellers. Attendees relish the opportunity to leisurely explore and board boats in a laid-back setting, fostering one-on-one interactions with brokers and seasoned boat owners, delving into every facet of boat ownership.

Tracking results of our different sales channels brought to light that our ROI with Yachtworld (most popular MLS-site) was extremely low considering that less than 0.2% of our leads came from this site and we knew that we had to pursue alternative outlets even harder. We therefor decided to collaborate with two other companies in the catamaran niche (and more to come) to create a portal that will feed all three websites with all our listings and each of our websites. This expanded our reach even further.

This portal also feeds, The Yacht Market, Rightboat, Yacht Trader, among others, in the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. Collectively we have around 120 listings and this cross-domain marketing is turning out to be hugely successful. Apart from having our listings fed to all these various MLS-sites, the listings are also getting three times more exposure, not only from our websites traffic but also our three respective newsletters and social media platforms. It was a huge effort to put it together, but the results speak for itself and this collaboration is a win-win for our sellers!

Setting Sail Towards Success and Improved Customer Service

In the dynamic realm of yacht brokerage, amidst choppy seas, one truth shines through: adaptation spells the difference between thriving and foundering. Brokers must embrace digital marketing, craft compelling content and engaging videos, while keeping an eye on emerging trends. Innovation and technology is the best way to stay ahead in this perpetually evolving landscape.

But make no mistake, adapting to these changes requires more than just a presence on social media or alternative marketplaces. It also requires a concerted effort and commitment form the brokers themselves. Merrill Charette from MarineBiz Insider points out that success in yacht sales come from hard work and volume. Says he; “From what I’ve seen, many people in yacht sales sit in front of their computers waiting for leads, and older yacht brokers rely on a steady stream of referrals. However, I believe there is a ton of opportunity in this space for someone who hits outreach hard.”

We firmly agree with this statement. Brokers must give value for money. We cannot wait for the phone to ring and we cannot expect to have an MLS-site do the work for us. We must do the outreach directly to the consumer and we must pursue new and innovative ways to help our sellers get their boats in front of prospective buyers.

From the seller’s perspective, monitoring brokers on social media provides valuable insight into their marketing strategies and professional conduct. By assessing how brokers promote listings and engage with their audience, sellers can make informed decisions about who to entrust with selling their yacht.


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