Sauleau added that, since the outbreak of COVID-19, “the increase of bookings for the Caribbean is mainly from the US customer base because, clearly, they don’t necessarily fancy the idea of travelling to Europe for this summer.”
Sauleau discussed this trend while speaking to BOAT International for our new video series, At Home with BOAT. In episode six, BOAT International editor Stewart Campbell talked with Sauleau about how the leading brokerage firm, and the superyacht industry in general, is adjusting its approach in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the charter season looking “extremely strong” at the beginning of the year, Sauleau acknowledged that the market has largely come to a standstill as a result of coronavirus-related travel bans. “The more that countries were closing, the more requests to cancel or postpone charters came […] for the last two or three weeks our team members have been busy cancelling or postponing” said Sauleau.
To combat this issue, the firm has introduced a scheme that allows charters to be cancelled without penalty, for whatever reason, up to the end of May 2020.
“Over 40% of our fleet agreed to take part in this scheme” said Sauleau. “That clearly shows that a lot of owners are still willing to get people on board and they are still hoping for a charter season” he added.
As well as expecting a rise in Caribbean charters towards the end of 2020, Sauleau also anticipated that the majority of clients following lockdown would be families who are currently separated due to the pandemic. After lockdown is lifted, Sauleau suggested that a yacht charter “will be an opportunity for many of them to be together” again.
“As we know, [a yacht] is one ideal place today to be with your family” said Sauleau.
Turning the discussion to Fraser’s sales division, Sauleau echoed the opinion of Burgess chief executive Jonathan Beckett in episode one. “If [the pandemic] lasts for too long, we will probably see an increase of boats being put on the market” said Sauleau, though he stressed that for now this was “not a generality.”
Sauleau also acknowledged that “on our social media and on our website we have seen an increase in traffic”, suggesting that the quarantine has allowed potential buyers extra time to do their research.
Though the firm is now over 70 years old, Sauleau emphasised that Fraser employees had already adapted well to working from home. “If there is one thing which is positive about COVID-19, it is that communication has become so much better within the company” said Sauleau.
For more episodes from At Home with BOAT, click here.