In September 2013, Todd Beechey opened the doors to OceanScape Yachts. Borrowing a successful business model from the private-aviation industry, he set up a tiered membership program for chartering yachts. The company launched a new website in April and recently announced it has 30 yachts available to charter through its partners as well as two through exclusive owner agreements. Most of the yachts are 100 to 150 feet in length and include models from American builders Hargrave Custom Yachts, Broward, and Viking Yachts; the UK’s Sunseeker; Italian brands Azimut and Benetti; and Dutch builder Mulder, among others. These superyachts are capable of accommodating from six to 12 guests for charter, depending on the vessel. Robb Report interviewed CEO Beechey to explore this new approach to yacht charters.
What is the concept behind OceanScape Yachts?
OceanScape Yachts is the world’s first vacation club dedicated to bringing the unparalleled experience of yachting to more travelers worldwide. Think of us as the Airbnb of yacht charters. We’re a platform that unites brokers and owners with a whole new list of potential clients.
We are focused on getting the word out that these amazing vacations are available to families or groups of friends for a price that is comparable to other luxury travel options. And we make it easy for new people attempting to charter a yacht for the first time, getting them the information they need and helping those who don’t have time or energy to properly research and plan a trip. Someone can come to us, tell us a bit about their needs—how many guests, location, and time of year—then we go out, get all the info (whether that is through one of our trusted yacht partners, or a further referral from them), then present them the options. We lay out plainly all hidden costs and fees, the charter agreement, how to get to and from their meeting location to get on board, etcetera. We are trying to make the entire charter process as seamless and painless as possible—especially for those who are completely new to this industry.
What motivated you to start this company?
My wife and I were on a luxury cruise one year, and happened to walk around a marina, looking at all the superyachts. We started daydreaming about what it must be like to vacation on one of those yachts instead of a big cruise ship. Fast forward to our next vacation planning, we decided to see if it was possible. Having no idea how to even enter into this new world and industry, I started researching yacht brokers and sending emails. Of the 12 “reputable” brokers we contacted, only three responded to our emails. We eventually booked our first yacht vacation with one broker who we were quite happy with. But I found it really frustrating to break into this industry. Here I was, a paying customer, and struggling to get someone to take my money! I know I wasn’t booking a 150 foot-plus yacht, but it was still a big investment for us, so why couldn’t we get someone to help us book the charter?
What sets OceanScape apart from other yacht-charter companies?
Judging from my own experience (having chartered a number of further times following the first one), I knew where the gaps in service were. A paying client shouldn’t need to wait days (or even weeks) to get replies to email or the right amount of attention and feedback from someone who is supposed to be preparing a trip for them. We aim to deliver exceptional service from beginning to end. Not only are we breaking down barriers to entry for a new pool of clients—those who can afford a luxury yacht charter, but may not realize it—we’re always raising the standards of services. We see it like this: You book into a Four Seasons anywhere in the world, you know exactly what kind of service you will receive and have your expectations met. The yacht industry seems to still be in a cowboy state where you receive different levels of service depending on who you speak to, which broker you go through, which crew was on board, and so on. By thoroughly vetting our yacht partners, we aim to ensure you, as the guest, will always get top-quality service.
What is the pricing structure?
We have a tiered system for entry. The first is an OceanScape Club Member, which is free to join and offers access to the OceanScape Club. Club Members enjoy travel tips, vacation ideas, and community interaction on our private Facebook group. They also have access to the OceanScape membership ambassadors for free concierge trip planning.
The second level is an Inner Circle Member ($97 one-time fee), which offers the same benefits as the above, however you will get a dedicated Member Ambassador who you are always able to speak to and work with. We offer Inner Circle members a $1,000 one-time food and beverage credit applied to the cost of your first yacht vacation booked with us. Paying members have online access to details of trips planned and taken, as well as digital storybooks that can be personalized to create digital memory books. Finally, and perhaps most exciting, Inner Circle Members have access to our OceanScape Charter Yacht Report (OSCYR), which offers highly detailed valuation verification for thousands of yachts available for charter, as well as access to the mobile app (coming soon).
And the final membership is for the client who plans to book one to two charters each year. The Captain’s Club ($297 monthly fee) offers the same benefits as an Inner Circle member but the main difference is the provisioning credit offered. We remove the commission that we would otherwise earn and apply it to your provisioning costs (food, fuel, and marina fees), saving you thousands of dollars. In addition to your annual fee is a $500 per trip booking fee.
Where is OceanScape headed?
We are continually growing and evolving in our market. We have a number of yacht partners already established and are thrilled to have trusted working relationships with Denison Yachting and Hargrave Custom Yachts covering the USA and Caribbean, Northrop & Johnson Australia for the South Pacific region, and West Nautical covering all yacht needs across the Med, as well as Indo Yachts in Indonesia. We also have privately listed yachts with trusted partnerships with the owners.
We have been approached by wider online luxury concierge services, companies that value one-of-a-kind experiential vacations just like us. By partnering up with similar travel companies, we’re creating a much wider net to effectively “catch” potential new charterers.
As briefly touched on earlier, we created a unique pricing tool called OSCYR. This allows users to search and compare different charter prices based on a number of criteria. Compiling industry data from thousands of yachts on the market today, OSCYR aims to ensure you are paying a fair price for your yacht vacation, regardless of who you book your vacation through.
Chartering a yacht is, in my opinion, the most unique and indulgent vacation you can take. You can see parts of the world inaccessible by any other means of transportation. You are catered to by a highly competent crew and your own personal chef. It’s truly an opportunity to escape from everyday stress and enjoy the finer things in life.