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  • Writer's pictureLaurence Lewis

It's no question that the COVID-19 outbreak has drastically affected the yacht industry, and YPI CREW has seen this first hand. The months of March, April and May have traditionally always been the busiest time for yacht recruitment. Looking at April 2020 compared to April 2019, yacht jobs and candidate placements have fallen by 80%. May is looking a lot more promising as jobs are coming in again, a sign that the market is starting to recover.

With so many candidates reaching out to us to find out the latest on this situation, we wanted to offer the most recent luxury yacht industry statistics from our Captains survey. We asked 346 Captains who had used our superyacht recruitment services over the past year to participate, 108 of whom responded, and we were pleased to see some optimistic results indicating that we can and will move forward from the coronavirus crisis. Read all the results below.

Changes To Employment

YPI CREW enquired whether our Captains or their crew had been asked to agree to modified terms on their SEA, of which a reassuring 71% said no. Despite this, 81 of those polled for our luxury yacht industry statistics had had to accept changes in their employment, showing the widespread impact of the coronavirus travel restrictions and health crisis across the industry.

The majority (25%) had endured a salary reduction, 22% had paid leave agreed, 20% had their employment terminated, 17% faced unpaid leave, and 16% saw reduced or removed rotation. Some of these will have been quick, immediate reactions to the initial outbreak, while others will have been implemented with a longer-term view on the crisis.

Salary Cuts & Advice

Of those 20 who had salary reductions, the majority reported a 26%-50% salary cut in our luxury yacht industry statistics, with 55% selecting this option. Clearly, this is an enormous and crushing pay cut to face. Some 40% of Captains said that they had seen or experienced pay deductions of 25% and below - still a significant income loss.

Crew contacted us with news of salary cuts as early as mid March, as soon as the lockdown took place. Were some of these reductions the result of a knee-jerk reaction fuelled by uncertainty and the unknown? Hard to tell. In any case, management companies and captains worked hard towards finding compromises through negotiations. It's fair to say that communications skills are being tested to the max! The key is indeed to find a good compromise allowing yacht operations to carry on whilst keeping the crew engaged in their jobs.

Also, brand image and yacht reputation are points to bear in mind if one wants to attract the best crew in post covid-19 times. What is the yacht legacy going to look like? How crew are treated in times of crisis may have an impact on the attractiveness of the yacht in the future.

When Will Recruitment Resume?

The majority of our Captains (36%) did not give an answer to this question, potentially indicating that for some, recruitment never stopped, while others are waiting to see and will be resuming as soon as restrictions are lifted. We take this as being very positive and in agreement with what we have seen, where 20% of our hirings have continued across all departments through the crisis.

The next largest group was comprised of Captains who would be resuming recruitment in June (23%), followed by 16% in May and 11% in July. This shows plenty of job optimism for the summer months of 2020. YPI CREW currently has 246 different jobs on hold, ready to pick up whenever the yachts are ready, and we are hopeful that as the French lockdown eases on May 11th, hiring will increase. Of course, one of the main criteria for yacht work recommencing is the lift of coronavirus travel restrictions across nations.

Protective Measures

The coronavirus outbreak has made cleanliness and safeness a high priority for any guest. We asked Captains if they would be implementing special protective measures onboard their yacht when lockdown measures are lifted, perhaps for visiting contractors or new crew. Of 98 responders, an overwhelming 76% said yes, with 21% undecided and just 3% saying they would not.

Our luxury yacht industry statistics indicate that the preferred protective measure is the face mask, with 67% saying they would implement it, followed by 66% who said they would quarantine joining crew, 50% choosing a COVID-19 test pre-hire or boarding, and 41% selecting protective clothing.

These measures will mostly be guided by governments, advisory bodies and management companies. It will then be up to each yacht to implement the recommendations in a way that keeps everyone safe, while ensuring that guests still enjoy a relaxing and luxurious experience.

Stay Informed & Get In Touch

We understand that it can be very draining for crew living in this constant state of unknown. The best thing to do is to realise that we have no control over the situation. Try to stay informed, as coronavirus travel restrictions and health advice can change very quickly, but also engage in some mood-boosting activities that take your mind off of the crisis. Remember, the yacht jobs we have on hold could be reactivated at any moment, so stay positive. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Watch Laurence on the SuperYacht Times Webinar for more insight

The 10th SuperYacht Times Webinar gave an educated view on how the drastically shortened seasons will affect yacht crew. Sharing their experiences and advice were Laurence Lewis, Director of YPI Crew, Captain David Pott of the 56.2-metre The Wellesley, Lawyer Tom Axton of Jaffa & Co and A. J. Anderson, Wright Maritime Group's CEO.

Photo by @juliaa. healey⁠ Thank you!

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