Interview with Vrit Yongsakul, Group MD, Boat Lagoon Yachting
Representing Princess in Southeast Asia since 1994, Boat Lagoon Yachting is also a distributor of Jeanneau and Sacs, and a Burgess representative. Vrit Yongsakul, Group Managing Director, explains why the dealership invests so much in bringing new models to Asia and how it’s able to offer clients a 360-degree service.
Vrit Yongsakul, Group Managing Director, Boat Lagoon Yachting
What are Boat Lagoon Yachting’s biggest strengths?
Our biggest strength is that we invest heavily not only in stock boats – which allows our clients to experience the latest models and see a range of possibilities available to suit their lifestyle and preferences – but also in our after-sales team and large-part inventory due to the scale of our operations and volume of boats.
We wholly own, run and operate our marinas and shipyards, and are active boaters ourselves, so our understanding of boaters’ needs is unique.
Boat Lagoon Yachting has its main headquarters at Phuket Boat Lagoon marina
In addition, Boat Lagoon Yachting offers luxury charter services for customers who would like to try boating and a dedicated yacht-management division, so we offer a unique turnkey service and full boating experience to our clients. We also have an active brokerage department and offer help with resale, allowing owners to upgrade easily as we provide part-exchange.
We continuously challenge ourselves to be the first to provide new experiences to our owners, be it rendezvous gatherings, events in unique places such as the Louis Vuitton event we did in Singapore’s Marina Bay, cruising along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, and even tailored cruises in the Mediterranean on our own yachts for our owners.
Phuket Boat Lagoon marina offers comprehensive service facilities
We also regularly organise Princess demos and dedicated training courses and workshops with both European and local OEM (original equipment manufacturers), shipyards and service suppliers at our own marina and shipyards.
Having operated in Southeast Asia since 1994, what do you think are the differences of the yachting market compared to other parts of Asia or more mature markets like Europe and the US?
The yachting industry in Southeast Asia has been increasing every year. It is still a developing yachting culture in the sense that people are traditionally day boaters compared to the Mediterranean, US or Australia, where boaters will go for longer trips, which could be for three days to a week or even a month.
The Thailand premiere of the Princess Y85 at the 2020 Thailand Yacht Show
I do see this culture changing and developing as our clients become more confident in boating and wish to explore more outside their home berth.
How many Princess yachts has Boat Lagoon Yachting sold and which have been the most popular ranges?
We have sold well over 250 new and pre-owned Princess yachts. We are the oldest and largest Princess Yachts dealer in Asia and are privileged to be part of the company’s special dealer council, along with the senior board and management of Princess Yachts.
The Y Class of large motor yachts is the most popular range in Southeast Asia, with over 40 new and used yachts sold in Asia within the last few years. These include 15 units of the 78 Motor Yacht, 12 of the Y75 Motor Yacht and 14 of the 72 Motor Yacht.
In 2019, Boat Lagoon Yachting showcased Princess models at ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove, where the company has its Singapore office
The F Class flybridge yachts are also popular with our owners and we have sold 12 units of the P60, 10 P64s and six P68s. We’ve even sold four M Class superyachts (starting from 30m) in the last few years.
Which are your biggest markets for Princess and why do you think the brand is so popular in Southeast Asia?
Boat Lagoon Yachting operates in five countries – Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Maldives – and our two biggest markets are Thailand and Singapore.
The reason why the brand is so popular is because Princess has a strong reputation of building yachts with good seakeeping and handling, and great volume. As well as offering a strong product that’s in demand, we’re able to complement this with first-class after-sales service and care, giving total peace of mind to the end user.
Boat Lagoon Yachting exhibits Princess models in Singapore’s Southern Islands
Can you talk about the efforts you’ve made in bringing new models to market and how important it is for clients in Asia to see these as soon as possible?
Our company’s vision is to provide the best service to clients and that includes convenience. We are always the first to personally invest in bringing the latest new yachts to the region.
In 2019, we invested GBP20 million (about US$26.7 million) in a brand-new fleet of Princess models including an R35, F45, F50, F55, F62, F70, Y75 and Y85. This provided buyers with the opportunity to choose their ideal yacht at their leisure and start their boat experience immediately.
We have also previously brought in ‘world premiere’ models, some of the first units in the world, like the popular 75MY, S60, 78MY, Y85, 88MY and many other previous models such as P56, P60, P64, P68 and 72MY.
The X95 is a ground-breaking new design by Princess
Furthermore, with the Singapore Yacht Show and the Thailand Yacht Show being two key boat shows in Asia, we feel it is important to have national and regional premieres at these events.
What are your thoughts on the new X95, which has been so popular that it has taken over production in Princess’s South Yard, previously dedicated to the M Class superyachts?
Consumer tastes are always changing. People want to go further afield and have the space to be able to enjoy such adventures. The X Class range offers this. It is uniquely designed and her concept has really captured the market. It is no surprise the shipyard has already sold 13 units of the X95 (by late November).
A Jeanneau NC33 cruises the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok
How important is customisation to your clients?
Customisation is important, but it is also important for us as distributors to make clients aware of what is possible. By knowing our clients, we have been able to offer features such as mahjong tables in place of coffee tables, list karaoke machines as an option, install a whisky cabinet and cigar drawer, and even customise the flybridge with starlights.
For Jeanneau, what are the most popular models with your clients?
The NC and Merry Fisher ranges are definitely the most popular here in Southeast Asia. They are good-quality boats, affordable and offer perfect day cruising, which is what many of our clients are after.
A Sacs Rebel 47 (right) on display at the 2020 Thailand Yacht Show
How does Sacs fit into your portfolio and which types of buyers do these luxury RIBs appeal to?
Sacs is the number one manufacturer for top-end luxury tenders. As we’re in partnership with Burgess, we now engage with clientele looking for yachts from 100ft upwards and when it comes to a tender, they often want something high-end, which is what Sacs offers. So far, we have sold several units to superyacht owners. Sacs is also a great island run-around boat for places like Phuket or for those who may not wish for a traditional flybridge yacht.
Now that you’re well into your second year representing Burgess in Thailand, how is your superyacht business developing?
We are very much enjoying our partnership with Burgess. I believe we complement each other fittingly. We have been fortunate enough to make a number of sales to Asia-based customers, who keep their superyachts both in Asia and elsewhere in the world.
Vrit with Jean-Marc Poullet, Burgess’ Chairman, Asia
Looking ahead, where are the biggest opportunities for Boat Lagoon Yachting?
The Covid pandemic has certainly increased sales in boating. While travel restrictions are in place, we see this trend continuing. What’s paramount for us is to ensure we can offer our customers great after-sales care and hope they will want to upgrade and stay within the Boat Lagoon Yachting family.
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