Building Customer Relationships in a Super Luxury Industry

In a super-luxury market, like the yacht industry, the pool of potential clients is small. Each existing client is considered precious and your company probably already goes to every possible length to make them happy. Maintaining a strong relationship with clients means strengthening the brand's reputation, increasing sales to return customers and expanding reach to new potential clients.

Keep Your Clients Close...

Happy clients are likely to return to the shipyard when they are ready to refit their current yacht or upgrade to a larger one. At Maserati, for example, return customers represent an important sales factor; the company builds relationships over time through after-sales care, events and communications activities, explains Umberto Cini, Managing Director. Ensuring satisfaction, in this way, simultaneously strengthens brand reputation and lays the foundation for strong relationships with clients.  

Client base is the best marketing asset in luxury industries;   fostering these relationships helps build reputation, increase retention and reach new customers.  Artwork:  "Abstract Koi"  by  ContemporaryEarthArt .

Client base is the best marketing asset in luxury industries; fostering these relationships helps build reputation, increase retention and reach new customers. Artwork: "Abstract Koi" by ContemporaryEarthArt.

Keep your clients close by maintaining multiple channels of communication. An appropriate communications mix might include a monthly e-mail newsletter, quarterly brand magazine delivered exclusively to owners and an annual event. These touch points will give you the opportunity to collect feedback from your current clients and update them on your company's latest developments.

If your company is ready to take customer relations to the next level, consider implementing a customer rewards program. Imagine your supermarket loyalty scheme on steroids; clients could earn points towards their next charter or purchase of a tender. Just as an average family occasionally needs to rent two cars on a vacation, a UHNW group may find themselves chartering or purchasing two yachts in the same period. For this reason, rewards programs have had success in similar industries - including luxury hotel chains and private jet charter companies - where members earn credits for expenditures and referrals.

...and Your Clients' Friends Even Closer

Clients who have had a positive experience are also inclined to recommend you to others in their inner circle of UHNWI friends and colleagues or invite them to check out your company at the next boat show or event.

Special events designed to express appreciation for current clients can be very successful, especially when they are leveraged as an opportunity for new prospects to get to know the brand. In an ultra-lux version of 'bring a friend', relationship-building events with an open invitation for key clients help your company contact more of these otherwise virtually unreachable prospects. 

“It’s really a chance for us to extend those relationships and those relationships beget relationships, so the more that we get those relationships extended out into the community, and the deeper we can forge those relationships, we’ll continue the cycle of repurchases,” said Evan Davis, head of marketing at OneWater Marine Holdings.

Client recommendations are invaluable for a luxury brand, including referrals from other sectors. If your company is ready to reach beyond the industry partnerships it has already built, consider investing in strategic non-industry partnerships. Collaborating with a fashion brand, jewelry designer or luxury hotel could prove to be a source of fresh marketing content and potential leads. Mutually fruitful activities could include e-mail marketing exchange, shared social media content, guest blogs, features in a brand magazine or album and event sponsorship where communications emphasize the partnership.

Bottom Line

In the yacht industry, your existing customer base is the biggest marketing asset. Not only will happy customers return, but word-of-mouth driven by client satisfaction and strategic partnerships also brings interested new potential clients in the door.