Ahoy Club set to streamline yacht chartering through tech - Yacht Harbour
Ahoy Club, the new, UK-based startup, brainchild of Australian entrepreneur, Ian Malouf is set to launch in May to offer a simpler way to book yacht charters. Focused on cutting out redundant fees, speeding up the process and offering a larger inventory, Ahoy will launch just in time for the 2018 summer season.
Once the charter trip has been confirmed, there is an instant messaging facility within the platform to communicate with the captain and crew. Details of the booking are accessible at any time, including the charter agreement. Malouf also highlights the comprehensive guest profile page that can be filled out and updated at any time. “If you go into the guests, you can add who is coming with you, what their name is, if they can swim, their dietary requirements, any disabilities… everything.” Further, the preferences sheet, which includes the choice of activities, cuisine, wine and more, can also be filled out directly on Ahoy Club. These forms can be completed in by all parties (and updated as many times as the guests wish) and negates the paper forms that would traditionally be written and scanned back by hand to the yacht or charter agent. The centralised automation of all the forms makes the entire process more efficient for the central agent, the yacht and the charter client.
Admitting that, at the beginning, there was some push back from the industry, Malouf has found that when the Ahoy Club team explains that the platform is designed to work with the charter agents, rather than instead of, the market has been much more receptive to the concept. “Initially, people thought we were cutting them out, but we’re not. Once we sat down and spoke to them, we have had really great feedback. We are working with brokers and we respect them. They have the knowledge, they know the owners and they know the crew, so we want to work with them.”
“Initially, people thought we were cutting them out, but we’re not. Once we sat down and spoke to them, we have had really great feedback. We are working with brokers and we respect them. They have the knowledge, they know the owners and they know the crew, so we want to work with them.”
The platform gives central agents a five per cent fee, and the Ahoy Club charges a four per cent commission and a three per cent software fee. “The industry is used to 20-25 per cent commissions,” says Malouf, “So the yachts you see on our platform are going to be for less, and that is a big thing to get used to.” Indeed, for those who have been interested in chartering a vessel, but are unsure of the best approach, Ahoy Club offers a method to explore the options out there in their own time. “There are so many clients out there who don’t know how to charter if they haven’t done it before. It’s hard to just call a broker out of the blue.”
Historically, online or app-based booking platforms for yachts have been discussed pejoratively, with traditional brokerage houses arguing that knowledge of the yachts and client relationships cannot be replicated online. Ahoy Club hopes to alleviate any of these concerns. “The management is unparalleled. It’s not an Airbnb where you just pick a room, book and everything is dropped. We support the client the whole way through, until the end of the charter with the follow-ups. We don’t stop at the booking side. We keep the clients and we make the job easy for the industry.”
In a time where almost all transactions are completed on a mobile device, and efficiency is the priority in all aspects of life, this platform will appeal to those who are interested in chartering, but are time-poor. Further, the fact that Ahoy Club is the brainchild of someone with intrinsic knowledge of the superyacht market, and a team who are dedicated to improving the charter market, Ahoy Club has the potential to be a game-changer.