The business of yacht-chartering is notably overdue for digital disruption. The latest attempt is Yotha, a website and yacht-charter app that debuted in Monaco in May following a soft launch in 2016. CEO and Founder Philippe Bacou has owned five yachts since 2003 and lists his current one, a 141-foot motorized vessel dubbed Philmi, among the 96 superyachts and gigayachts offered for charter through Yotha. (An additional 28 are in the process of registration.)
“We had the ambition to come out with really real innovations in the yacht world,” Bacou says. “The yacht world is known to be quite conservative. If you want to launch a new platform, it’s not a revolution, but an evolution on the market.”
The evolution represented by Yotha—which is pronounced “Yoh-tha” and has no specific meaning—covers refreshingly sensible things such as asking owners before listing their yachts on the platform and allowing people to book with a credit card instead of a wire transfer. “It makes the process much more fluent,” Bacou says. “Our goal is to come to the point where chartering is about as easy as booking a flight. We want to render the process as easy as possible without compromising the security of the transaction.”
Yotha has handled 10 contracts since May and recently accepted a Caribbean booking for a sailing yacht. Bacou’s plans for the company include filming virtual tours for every available yacht (Yotha has finished about 30 to date), increasing the number of destinations, and expanding the fleet to vessels smaller than 75 feet in length.
By offering these innovations, Yotha might accomplish something counterintuitive—it could democratize yacht charters. Bacou observes, “By making it easier for people [to charter yachts,] it will enlarge the market of yachting and allow a lot more people to enjoy the pleasure of renting a yacht.”