August 28, 2013

Get the most out of your sailing holiday budget

By Robert Cross

Knowing something of the methodology behind price setting in the market, and the way world events shape people’s choices, especially when it comes to their holiday destinations, helps with decisions on your boat charter that ensure you get the best out of your dollar.
5 x crayfish = $40 (+ lifetime in therapy after seeing them cooked live)5 x crayfish = $40 (+ lifetime in therapy after seeing them cooked live)
Free live entertainment - French folk music in the parkFree live entertainment - French folk music in the park
Teenage birthday party. Homemade cake and a can of CokeTeenage birthday party. Homemade cake and a can of Coke
Endless water activities.Endless water activities.
Coke Zero and loving it.Coke Zero and loving it.
Fresh produce, tasty, healthy and cheap.Fresh produce, tasty, healthy and cheap.

A sailing holiday is a discretionary spend perceived to be at the luxury end of travel. For the most part, our clients are willing to pay for a high standard; price is usually not important, but value always is. Peak season charters cost more, holiday periods cause a spike in prices, and the bigger you go in boat selection, the more you pay,

I think I can safely assume we all understand this to be a normal pricing pattern for the industry. But what is normal? Demand influences price, but demand rarely coincides with the areas of greatest value or best return. This is true of any investment, including investing in enjoyment.

The evening news has an increasing effect on choice of travel destination

In 2010 Greece was in the news, with protests and unrest in Athens over the country's financial woes. Athens is a densely populated place with all the stresses of a big city, and when the people hit the streets they became evening news.

While the protests were going on in Athens, life in the Greek Islands carried on. Certainly, the people there were embarrassed by the situation their country had found itself in, but to them the sun cames up and they got on with their day. They believed they had nothing to do with what was going on in Athens, so why should it affect them? They were wrong. Their world was being undermined by the story of Greece promoted as a place full of desperate people who were angry at the world. My more informed view of Greece could never conceive of angry or unfriendly people in the way depicted in the media. This depiction was wrong, on so many levels. . 

As a result of the adverse publicity, the tourists stopped coming to Greece, and for a while there was room to tie up to the quay, the locals gave you their undivided attention and charter yachts were available at a discount. But still, it was a challenge to convince people to visit. Meanwhile, Turkey and Croatia charter holidays sold out, unable to meet the unanticipated demand. Early booking discounts disappeared and it became increasingly difficult to find good boats for our clients.

The following season, charter operators in the eastern Mediterranean moved boats to their Turkish bases in Turkey, ads that's where the demand was. Then Syria became news. Bookings for Turkey this year have been down, with 20%+ discounts being offered early in the seasony to attract people to the region.

I just don't get this. Visiting Turkey in my younger days, I ventured inland heading for the Syrian border. I can tell you that's an incredibly long way, both physically and culturally, from the boat charter regions of Turkey.

With all that is in the news, Turkey is a good pick for next year. There is slim to zero chance of the Syrian conflict affecting the coast of Turkey. When this sort of bad press is out there, the locals need your business more than ever. The Turkish coast is beautiful and the people are charming traders who will look after you.

People have now returned to Greece in their droves, and there we have been short of boats this season. Greece is rebounding and is better for the experience of fluctuating supply. Many good boats are now entering these fleets.

The World Economy 

Economic factors also distort demand in unlikley places. For Europeans, The Euro-zone crisis has increased demand for local holidays, as airfares to the more distant French charter territories of Tahiti, Seychelles and Martinique are less affordable. Normally we expect a shoulder-season discount in these places, but lately peak season has been on offer at unseasonably cheap rates. A 20% last-minute discount for July and August in Tahiti is previously unheard of. This situation is likely for some time to come. These beautiful Islands offer some of the best sailing in the world and right now it's quiet and waiting for you to enjoy within a reasonable budget.

Easier-to-get-to places

Asia is an interesting destination that may be underestimated. The charter regions there bar no resemblance to what may be perceived - crowded and noisy cities. Asia is a busy airline hub, making it easy and affordable to get to or stop off at on the way to somewhere else. The sailing grounds of Southeast Asia contain many sparsely-inhabited, pristine islands. The locals supply all the fresh produce you could ask for, cooked with intense flavour at less than the cost of eating in your own home.

Asia equals affordable flights and low costs of living on a boat that becomes your fixed-price transport and accommodation. There are few shops to buy travel rubbish in when sailing, and it's an amazingly beautiful region where Hollywood movies are made.

The cost of chartering a boat is just one component of your budget. Flights, local living, and how full you want your suitcase to be on the return trip are all factors in the total price of your holiday.The islands off the coast of Thailand and Malaysia offer a high-value charter experience that adds down when compared wirth the true cost of alternative holiday options. The accompanying photos demonstrate that on a sailing holiday, the best things are often those that cost the least.

In our Yacht Charter Price Guide, we detail the main influences on the price of a sialing holiday, as listed below.

  • Size, type and age of boat
  • Time of year you plan to sail
  • Your chosen sailing destination
  • Early booking discounts
  • Long term discounts
  • Last minute discounts
  • Promotional discounts in advance of season
  • Promotional discounts during season for fleets with surplus capacity
  • Cancellations
  • Exchange rate
  • Strategy of the charter operator in that destination
  • Volume of trade Sail Connections places with charter operator

On top of the charter boat cost, you also need to consider:

  • Cost of living while cruising
  • Cost of travel to your destination
  • Cost of mooring fees while cruising

In the Comments section below, we would love for you to share tips on how you made your charter budget go further. And if considering your first, or a repeat charter, we recommend you contact us early in the process, for an updated understanding of how to get the best value from your sailing holiday budget.

Your Comments

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