On The Seas With Yacht Broker David Seal
Arguably, David Seal is the world’s most well-known yacht broker. A team member with Northrop and Johnson, David is a pioneer in the YouTube marketing of yachts that only an extremely minor fraction of YouTube viewers can afford.
But David’s vision and efforts have paid off handsomely. His channel, Yachts For Sale, has already exceeded 11 million views, while viewership continues to increase, by virtue of 100,000 typical views per day.
There has been some criticism that marketing yachts to deca-millionaires and billionaires on YouTube is more “infotainment” than shrewd sales strategy. However, David has proven naysayers wrong many sales over. In fact, it is yacht owner fantasists that drive viewership, which, in turn, puts David’s videos at the top of search engines, such as Google. When billionaires search for yachts to buy, it is David’s yachts that appear at the top of the search results. Moreover, because billionaires also enjoy the simple pleasures of life, so too do they also enjoy perusing YouTube. They may have many assets, but time is one of their most precious assets. YouTube shopping helps prospective time-poor yacht owners hone-in on the yachts that they want to tour in person, wherever the yachts may be in the world.
Given David’s decades of yacht brokerage experience and his more recent Internet fame, Jim Simon for Jetgala had a chance to go “on the seas with” David to ask him about his perception of current trends in the yacht industry as well as his predictions for the future.
When thinking about current trends in the yacht industry, it seems that the adoption of onboard technology is a key trend. Are there any specifics in tech that we can see now?
Environmentally friendly technology is hot right now. Diesel-electric propulsion is perceived to be environmentally friendly and as such, it is commercially successful.
People are increasingly cruising off the beaten track – Alaska, north of Norway, and the Galapagos, just to name a few. In some destinations, you must show that your yacht has limited emissions in order to pass through. Previously, emissions limited access to small yachts. However, we’re seeing larger displacement yachts like the 54M Mangusta “El Leon” calling on the Galapagos, which is now on its way to Alaska.
Are tastes in yachts changing?
Indeed. The market is thinning a bit on “go-fast” yachts. Instead, we are seeing greater demand for longer-range yachts.
We are also seeing more demand for “resort-style” yachts. For instance, Baglietto Yachts are finding that their customers want yachts where the sides open up to form a stylised beach club. The challenge with beach clubs, of course, is that they take the spaces that are traditionally used for tenders. In response, people are now towing smaller boats behind their yachts like a 108’ Mangusta that I filmed recently that tows a 27’ Goldfish RIB.
Here in Singapore, we have seen firsthand that some yacht owners who wished their current yachts to be larger commission yacht builders to build larger replicas. Is this a trend that you are seeing on a macro scale?
Yachts are definitely getting larger. In 1995, there was a trend for Ferretti Yachts, where there were seven to eight yachts, each 70–80ft long, in construction at the same time. Fast-forward to today and Lürrsen Yachts seem to have just as many 120–140m yachts in construction at the same time.
Bigger yachts mean more space, which often translates into a bigger pool and even a helicopter-landing pad.
What are yacht owners doing with their yachts when they’re not in use?
Most yacht owners will make their yachts available for charter, and many are turning charters into experiences with souvenir videos to take home. Take Arience, one of the most popular yachts available for charter at $750,000 per week. The service and décor are amazing, and the crew leverage on technology like GoPros to help capture customers’ entire experience, such as on WaveRunners, swimming in crystal clear waters, and more.
What are your predictions for the yacht industry?
We will definitely see electric yachts in the near future. Small electric boats exist already but they do not have the range that a yacht requires. Automotive is going that way; it may take a while but [electric yachts] will happen.
Another prediction is that the Chinese market will come on line. They’ve been buying yacht builders but not that many yachts. Soon, they will want their own.
Private jets are sometimes called “offices in the sky” because high-speed Wi-Fi allows executives to be productive while traveling. Do you believe that yachts will follow the same and be “offices on the seas” allowing executives to work and relax aboard their yachts?
It’s highly unlikely that this will happen. After all, yachts are for relaxing; not working, and they are a place to escape to.