The inaugural Experiential Yachting Forum, held at the Yacht Club de Monaco last week (April 21), invited participants to focus on the idea that “yachting is more than just the yacht”.
Talks were centred around the experience economy and included a detailed analysis by brand strategist and co-moderator Peter Economides on how millennials are influencing the superyacht sector and will continue to do so in the future.
With the future in mind there was discussion around the role virtual reality experiences, NFTs and the metaverse will play in the superyacht sector. Andrew Grant Super, from Berkeley Rand, explained how the brand’s immersive experiences utilising interactive technologies – which range from Broadway shows at sea to recreating historic marine battles – are already being demanded up superyacht clients.
Later in the day the youngest speaker at the forum, 21-year-old Manila Di Giovanni, spoke about her work creating DWorld – the first VR platform for the Principality of Monaco within the metaverse. She also spoke about future uses of the metaverse, including the idea of virtual charters and other yachting experiences.
Back in reality, other talks looked at how owners are now seeking to use yachts for a greater diversity of activities – including exploration and health and well-being. Sessions included insight form Cookson Adventure’s Nick Davies, founder of Luxury Treasure Hunts Charlie Moretti and Maria Alekseenko Magan, the founder of Experiental Yachting.
Yacht owners Matty Zadnikar, Raffaele Costa and Anastasios Economou also shared their thoughts on the changing demands of yacht ownership. “After 28 years of owning a yacht, you have pretty much seen everything. So, we changed to thinking about how we could use the unique environment,” said Economou. “Ultimately the yacht is just an asset that is used to create an experience.”
The idea of the multiple uses of a yacht also fed into further discussions about yacht design.
“Today we are building boats that allow you to spend time for leisure and pleasure in St Barths or St Tropez but at the same time also have the ability to explore wrecks with RVs [remote vehicles],” said Vasco Buonpensiere, co-founder of Cantiere delle Marche. “It is no more just about eating, dancing, and sunbathing. It is that, but it is also more than that.”
Oceanco’s Paris Baloumis also spoke about the importance of generating an experience around the build process. “We heavily invested in clients coming to the shipyard to have the experience,” he said. “We have the family be part of major milestone moments such as the welding.”
The 2015 Young Designer of the Year award-winner Timur Bozca also shared his insights on modern design, including his recent work with the 146 metre semi-submersible expedition yacht OK. He was joined on stage by Sarah Colbon and Marie Soliman from Njord by Bergman Design House who shared their experiences of working on the refit of 56m Galaxy with her forward-thinking owners.
“The most important take away is that change is inevitable,” said Economides. “If you don’t change then somebody else will. We must start with the insight to really uncover what the next generation demand, we need to allow ourselves to have the ignorance to see what is needed and then have the courage to present new ideas.”