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- 3 Jun 2010
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Roy van Zoggel, Managing Director, YachtsXL.com

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Persuading the superyacht industry to do business online

THE NETHERLANDS- A brother studying naval architecture set Roy van Zoggel on his path to yachting. He remembers a fascination with his brother’s yacht design textbooks with images of fabulous craftsmanship set within the context of far-flung destinations. But Van Zoggel’s interest didn’t lead him to the sea. It lead him to his computer instead. Van Zoggel’s concept Yachtsxl.com is conceived to create an online boat show portal and the web channel has been developed to meet the evolving requirements of the industry.

The concept is simple: an online community that gives Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and superyacht professionals access to find charters, brokerage and other services within the industry by creating a highly specialised network. Van Zoggel believes that in order for the if the site is to offer a real genuine alternative to the boat show formatformat it must incorporate, its success hinges on high quality visuals and video content and this has been a big area for of investment – and integrating Augmented Reality is being considered as the next step. The community element is core to the offer, with networking and discussion an essential part of the ‘virtual boat show’ experience. Users can create online profiles and share news and media content.

Launched in mid-2009, Van Zoggel’s timing was far from ideal. The project came to fruition as the markets took an almighty tumble. Even now, big names in the industry are only just beginning to recover after a period of cancelled orders, abandoned projects and layoffs. Does he have any regrets about the timing? While Van Zoggel admits that the yachting industry has had to do some serious soul-searching in recent months he also says that being an online portal means he has picked up business where travel budgets have been cut. Van Zoggel believes that the impact of the economic crisis on superyacht chartering means that internet marketing plays a huge role in restoring the fortunes of the chartering sector. So much of the industry is based on face-to-face contact but the industry must learn to embrace online networks for the sake of efficiency. He adds that although the market will correct itself, fewer players now find themselves in a position to take risks. One of the biggest changes being that numbers of headline-grabbing supersize yachts commissions will dwindle – for the foreseeable future at least.

As for his own enterprise, Van Zoggel’schallenge is to ensure that the site keeps ahead of online technology so that it can rival a true ‘boat show’ experience, and persuade superyacht industry professionals that they do not need to look beyond their computers for business opportunities – even after their bank balances recover.