Jeanette Tobin, company director and owner of Superyacht Support, talks to Gill South about how to market your seasonal tourism business.
Superyacht Support launched about two years ago as a high-end concierge service for superyachts visiting New Zealand catering to high net worth individuals. It is the only New Zealand provider to be voted into the "Top 50 Products or Services Worldwide" by the prestigious Superyacht Report. As much as 70-80 per cent of the company's income comes in at this time of year.
Interesting statistic: A guest on a cruise ship will spend on average $NZD200 per head while in the country. In comparison, a superyacht will come to Auckland for an average of four months, spend on average $1m on works, $150,000 on berthage and power, $100k on food. In addition there's spending on fuel, restaurants, bars, rental cars and crew housing.
What is happening at this time of year in your business?
September through to April/May is our busy season. This is when superyachts start arriving in the country from the Pacific and Asia. Owners and guests usually arrive in January and can spend between two to eight weeks cruising and holidaying in New Zealand.
What is your expertise and what are your clients wanting from their experience in New Zealand?
We are experts in creating fantastic itineraries for superyacht owners, guests and their crews that showcases the best New Zealand has to offer. Maori culture is fast becoming a high point of guest trips. You can get amazing scenery in many places but no one else has our cultural heritage.
How do you market the business so you have the optimum amount of work at
Eighty per cent of our clients come to us through word-of-mouth referrals and the rest is from the work we do at international boat shows. However, there is a huge opportunity for the marine industry and Tourism New Zealand to significantly grow the luxury tourism market by promoting New Zealand as a cruising and chartering destination. Of the 200 vessels that visit the Pacific, only 50 come to New Zealand. We have successfully marketed New Zealand as a refit destination but left cruising and chartering out of the equation, which doesn't make sense. The refit industry would benefit as every vessel needs some kind of work done.
How do you manage your staffing when so many Kiwis are going off on holiday at this time of year?
If you want a break over summer, this is wrong industry to be in! Our suppliers understand this also and it's their peak periods as well so they're all working.
How far out are you planning for the kind of demand which might happen around December January February?
We start planning in mid-winter for vessels arriving from September onwards. For owners and guests, we can pull together an itinerary within a week, however, they often change their minds at the last minute so flexibility is key.
What other concierge services are you offering?
We do more than provide a concierge service - we are a ship's agent. This means anything the vessel could possibly need, including crew, we supply along with any product or service. Maori culture, food and wine experiences are very popular and we have some fantastic operators who meet the high levels of service expected by our clients who are high net worth individuals.
We work with many tourist operators throughout the country to create itineraries based on what our clients want. For instance, we have organised horse riding in Golden Bay, sand dune surfing, gathering tuatua and then cooking them on a beach BBQ, vineyards. The new big thing is the Voyager Canoes showing the old way of celestial navigation which is of huge interest to owners and crew alike. Whatever they want, we make it happen.