The 2012 MYBA Charter Show in Genoa, Italy, closes today after a week filled with a great deal of rain and a great number of terrific yachts.
For me, the most notable thing about this year's show is the indication that business seems to be getting better after several years of downturn with the recession. I've spoken with charter yacht managers, retail brokers, captains, and everybody else I could find on the docks, and the consensus is that things are finally improving. It's been several years since I've heard captains at this show say they already have several weeks of summer charters booked well in advance, and I heard that several times a day as I toured yachts all week long. It is an unmistakable glimmer of market recovery.
At the same time, though, I also heard plenty of insiders talking about how constant negotiating is still the norm, with clients pushing harder than ever in the continuing buyer's market. European clients, in particular, seem to be waiting until the last minute to book this summer, which means even more negotiations and discounts are likely in store. I also heard plenty of griping about the Caribbean season that just ended. It was pretty dismal in terms of bookings for most yachts.
So I believe the upshot is that the 2012 summer season in the Mediterranean may mark the solid beginning of the charter industry's recovery from the recession. Business has been slowly getting better in some segments, but this week was the first time I've seen green shoots in all segments since the recession began. It's still a buyer's market, to be sure, and some market segments remain stronger than others, but at least with the more popular yachts it's not going to be the same buyer's market as in the past few years. Some owners are not going to be as desperate to get more bookings because they already have a few. Things may start to shift back, at least aboard the most popular yachts, to a more level negotiating ground for both sides. That is good news for the value of yacht charter, and it bodes well for the industry's success in the future.
The Mediterranean has always been a far stronger charter market than the Caribbean, so it makes sense that when recovery starts, it starts here. I'll of course keep an eye on things as the summer season progresses, but for the first time in a long time, I feel a real sense of cautious optimism on the docks.
Kudos to MYBA for putting on another great show this year. Without the association's hard work, I wouldn't be able to bring you such comprehensive market intelligence.
Until next year, arrivederce from Italy!