Coronavirus | Opinions: Interview with one of the major yachting business influencers David Seal

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith the goal of collecting as many opinions as possibile from the yachting world, we have interviewed David Seal in order to help us have a clearer vision of what is going on globally and what we should expect in the following weeks, months and year.

With a history in yachting that spans more than two decades, Northrop & Johnson Sales Broker David Seal is today a real influencer in the sector. David was one of the first yacht brokers to recognize and act upon the potential of digital marketing. In 2012, he developed his first unique yacht presentation video, distributed through a dedicated YouTube channel called Yachts For Sale. He is now considered one of the leading experts in video marketing in the yachting industry; his productions have been watched by millions of people in over two hundred different countries.

SYD: David, you interact with yacht owners and potential clients every day, you are their first reference for the creation of their dreams’ boat. How is this emergency changing the meaning of ‘dreaming’?

DS: “For some potential buyers the current crisis may mean that their dream has just become a little more distant, and they will have to work harder and longer in order to achieve it. The dream of yachting depends of course very much on one’s financial capacity, and there can no longer be any doubt that the virus has impacted the world economy. It would take a lot more than the coronavirus to make people stop dreaming of owning a yacht though, so I have no doubt that people will continue to do what they have to do to make their dreams come true”.

SYD: What kind of messages are you receiving from your clients in these days? Are they showing any distance from the interest in buying a yacht? Are they asking to postpone meetings and negotiations or not?

DS: “Very few clients are walking away from negotiations on yachts at the moment, but most of them are asking for more time before they “pull the trigger” on a purchase. Everything seems to have been put on hold for a moment, while we take stock of the situation and see how quickly the crisis can be resolved”.

SYD: What do you expect from the Chinese market, do you think this emergency may have led to a closer distance between our cultures? Maybe, having shared a global drama may have brought to a a greater closeness of peoples’ lifestyles? Exactly, what can we forecast for this second quarter in terms of sales?

DS: “I have never had much experience if any with the Chinese market. I doubt that this crisis will change international relations between China and other countries, and it is impossible for me to forecast second quarter sales I’m afraid”.

SYD: The nautical sector is made up of small numbers, it is not difficult to make estimates. In the same way, you will have been able to get an idea of ​​the economic impact of this current situation simply by looking at your agenda. What kind of consequences is this emergency having on your specific and personal business as a broker?

DS: “Like many others I learned some life-changing lessons from the financial crisis of 2008. In my case I built up a stronger on-line presence that eventually led to my YouTube channel becoming a small business in itself. This has put me in  strong position to survive the current situation and come out the other side unaffected from a business perspective. I can still produce videos from my home office during the lockdown, and I am using the opportunity of having more time available to put a small team together that will allow me to face the rest of the year in a more organised and effective manner once the dust settles. With regards to the more direct business of selling yachts it is really too early to tell. I am hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. That is the best approach as a broker anyway, irrespective of coronavirus or other world events!”

SYD: “How the rich react to this challenge that the entire world is facing? Tom Hanks and wife tested positive for coronavirus. Is there a perception that this emergency can affect everyone, beyond social classes, power and purchasing power?

DS: “It certainly is affecting everyone, but there is no doubt that people who were already in a precarious financial position will be affected more severely. There is so much talk about treating people with the virus and potentially having to bail out industries such as airlines, I sincerely hope that at least as much attention is given to the large amount of people who’s mental health will be seriously aggravated by all of this as a result of the financial hardship it is creating”.

SYD: “The world does not wait. But if we all have to stop for a couple of months – and we hope it is for such a short period – what should we expect at the next Cannes and Monaco boat shows? Certainly after the cancellation/postponement of Dubai and Palm Beach Boat Shows, the first two yachting events in September will debut in great style surrounded by a global enthusiasm, also because they will have passed this period, let’s say, unscathed. Perhaps they will record a huge number of views as a consequence of the paralysis of these months opposed to a rediscovered freedom. What do you think about it?”

DS:” Great Question! Clients will go to whichever Boat Show suits them from a geographical perspective, but I am curious to see how yacht builders will respond to having to attend one years worth of Boat Shows possibly in a six month period. I also believe that the Cannes and Monaco Shows will be hugely successful. They always are under normal circumstances, but this year promises to be exceptional for them”.