Benetti CCO Sebastiano Fanizza on stage at benetti yachtmasters in budapest

Benetti Yachtmaster 2024: Crew satisfaction will be the next big focus in yacht design

29 February 2024 • by Katia Damborsky

Retaining and developing the right crew is a "fundamental" component of a client's long-term satisfaction, according to Benetti CCO Sebastiano Fanizza. Speaking during Benetti's annual Yachtmaster Europe event in Budapest, Fanizza highlighted the role that yacht design should play in facilitating happy and satisfied crew, pointing to crew gyms, larger crew messes, and more premium space for crew as potential solutions. "The crew life is essential for a good time on board," he explained. "If the crew feels dissatisfied, it's not going to work."

However, Fanizza acknowledged that owners can be resistant to the idea of sacrificing space for crew. During a roundtable discussion at the end of the conference, Simon Cox, marine surveyor, consultant and superyacht captain, said that a balance between spaces was sorely needed. "Everyone's recognising crew retention is key," he noted. "There's a balance to be had between crew areas, technical spaces, storage... I see a lot of sacrifices being made at an engineering level to offer better living spaces."

Sebastiano Vida touched on Benetti's pioneering work into HVO, saying that all Benetti boats will be HVO-ready in the future

Gilberto Francesini, of the shipyard's research and development department, added that crew retention begins from the very first stages of a client's journey into yachting. He said it was critical to "make the client aware of the importance of having the captain and chief engineer [in place] at least a month before the launching of the vessel".

Lifestyle and design changes were the focal point of many other of the day's panels. "Ten years ago were putting people inside yachts," said Fanizza, using examples of Benetti's older designs which he described as private, formal and enclosed. "Carpentry, marble and rich furnishings" were all defining features of their look and "there was a disconnect between the yachts and the sea". Fast forward to 2024, Fanizza argued that clients were increasingly embracing the idea of being outdoors and adopting a more laid-back and informal approach to superyachting. The discussions echoed similar themes discussed at last year's Superyacht Design Festival, which pointed to post-pandemic lifestyles as a driving factor behind changing client demands. 

Read More/Superyacht Design Festival 2023: Post-pandemic lifestyle has sparked significant changes to superyacht GA
The leadership workshop was designed to be interactive, with break-out rooms for focus groups

The Benetti Yachtmaster event also saw Fraser CEO Anders Kurtén take to the stage to discuss the state of the superyacht market. He touched on yacht charter, noting that the sum of days of an average Fraser charter reached record highs in 2022, and has dipped down slightly in 2023 - but still remains higher than average. The number of bookings followed a similar trend, with 2020 and 2016 recording the lowest figures for both days and bookings.

Acquera Yachting commercial director Caterina Oliviero echoed Kurtén's focus on charter, giving attendees an insight into Acquera's premium concierge service and showing captains how the platform can be used to enhance charter and private experiences alike. 

After the conference, attendees were able to participate in an insightful leadership workshop and a team-building exercise that saw the 300 attendees explore the sights of Budapest and get exclusive access to Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts.

The event was held in the captivating city of Budapest

The Benetti Yachtmaster will be repeated between 28 - 29 February in Key West, Florida.