The next generation of yachting is up and coming, fresh, and has a lot to offer. Looking to the future of yachting, YATCO interviews several different faces of yachting to discover what they have to offer the industry and what they predict for the future of yachting. See below on what Julia Skop, founder of Smart Yachts, has to say.
Julia Skop, Founder of Smart Yachts
Tell us about how you got your start in yachting.
My story in yachting started ashore.
In September 2006, I was invited to the Moscow Yacht Show to work at the reception and to bring coffee to the guests. I had learned how to show boats, and started my tours when I was free from coffee cups. A day later the client returned to the Boat Show and told the Boss that the girl, I, sold him a boat, and he was here to sign the contract. It was a Canadian 33-foot Doral Intrigue boat for 254k USD, not a mega yacht yet. So I sold my first boat when I was at the second year of university.
Then I’ve started to work as the assistant of the sales manager, and step by step grew up to a Sales Director. Sold some boats, launched a new brand in Russia, and graduated my university at the same time. And in 2012 I founded my own company called SMART YACHTS.
As a professional in yachting, what trends have you seen and what do you predict for the coming years?
“In a matter of sales my idea is that the yacht market looks like waves, as I’ve started in 2006, when the demand was the same crazy as it is now and then we arrived to the crisis of 2008. So, I would say the Seller’s market will be switched to the Buyer’s market, and then we will have stagnation before the market will grow again.”
Another strong trend is sustainability, and some new technologies are coming. From my point of view the biggest driver for the new technologies is the commercial industry, so most of the inventions are adopted from shipping, from diesel electro to hydrogen research.
Another guess is the rise of the refit and conversion market. I’m a strong believer that we need to use and to re-use existing yachts and ships with the comfort for the owner. It might be smart solution in a matter of time and money and we are constantly looking for some smart options for our clients.
Also developing of the shipyards with different locations, the new 100m expedition yacht which was launched in Indonesia and 88m Illusion Plus from China are the first signs of the trend. Asia is really strong in commercial shipbuilding, and most of the luxurious yards started with commercial vessels. But that’s a long way, from function to luxurious quality.
What kinds of challenges have you been up against in yachting and how do you overcome them?
“That’s not something I’m pleased to talk about, but the yachting industry is a very male dominated industry. So I’ve got all the possible challenges connected with gender inequality. As a woman you always need to prove that you’re professional, it means to make a better homework and to be ready to answer all the technical questions.”
Another challenge is the people around the yacht owners. The industry with a huge average bill is very attractive. To deal with it you need to be very straight forward and always double check who is who.
Please tell us about some of your most memorable and successful moments, professionally.
In 2012 when I founded SMART YACHTS, our first office was in the kitchen in my apartment. And my best friend presented me the logo as a birthday present, and that logo is still with us. I felt that we are starting something what will change our lives.
This year our company Smart Yacht was mentioned at the list of the top 20 strongest brokerage houses all the world around according to Boat International, and I would like to believe that’s only beginning.
“Another moment I’m very proud about, in 2021 we sold the yacht of one of the most long-term clients of mine! We met when I was 20 years old in 2007 and are still working together. And it’s something I’m working for, to provide the service level to build up long time relations with my clients.”
In personal, for me the long-term relationships are the key point, I would even call it life-time relations as it’s my main target.
“You need to do your best for your clients, with the same attitude as you would do it for yourself, if would be at the client’s place.”
What do you aspire to for the future?
That’s the question which I’m asking myself every day. To be honest, I have 1-year targets, 5 year targets and 10 year targets in my notebook.
“And if we are discussing short plan, it’s mostly about numbers and efficiency of the company. But for the long-term period I’m dreaming to bring something new and useful to the industry. There are some projects we are working on from the digital applications for the owners and crew to the research for less toxic antifouling.”