The Human Experience
The focus of innovation at Ocean Independence is timeless: to share our passion for yachting and provide the very best experiences, says CEO Peter Hürzeler.
What makes an experience exceptional? At Ocean Independence, we believe it all comes down to fantastic levels of service, developed and refined through years of first-hand experience and knowledge. “In today’s world where so much is automated, we want to continue focusing on the human element – it’s a sort of reverse innovation,” says Peter Hürzeler, CEO of Ocean Independence.
Whether assisting our Clients with chartering or buying a yacht, or expertly managing their investment for them, Ocean Independence’s core ambition is to provide the very best Client experience when it comes to yachting. This is the driving force behind every decision Ocean Independence makes as a Company.
Our Client-first approach puts experience and knowledge at the fore, and one cannot exist without the other. “Our focus is on empowering our Consultants on both the charter and sales sides to have as much knowledge and technology as possible at their disposal to enable them to give the best advice to our Clients,” says Stuart Isaacs, Marketing Director at Ocean Independence.
On the charter side, this means sending our Consultants on FAM (familiarisation) trips so they can experience the yachts, crews and destinations for themselves. From Belize and the Bahamas to Cuba and Costa Rica, Ocean Independence’s Consultants have visited every charter destination we operate in. One even joined a trip in Antarctica on the iconic 77m expedition yacht Legend.
“They can step into our Clients’ shoes and see how it feels to be on board and be objective about the experience,” says Isaacs. “There are very few people in the world other than the Client themselves who will have experienced what it’s like on board one of these yachts, so that knowledge is hugely valuable and is shared among the Team.”
Hürzeler agrees. “You can find a lot of information on a website but the real difference between an internet search and what you get from an Ocean Independence Charter Consultant is that our people have first-hand experience in the areas where the charters are taking place, with the yachts the charters are booked on, and with the crews that are manning these yachts,” he says. “This extra personal experience balanced with understanding the needs and expectations of our Clients means they can make informed, very specific recommendations to match the Client to their ideal charter. That’s the added value we deliver.”
As well as FAM trips, Consultants also benefit from visiting charter yacht shows across Europe, America and the Caribbean, enabling them to get to know the yachts available for charter. Having invested in our CRM system and intelligence platforms, the Ocean Independence Consultants are able to easily share their findings and observations with the wider global team, placing information at their fingertips which in turn can be passed on to their Clients.
This spirit of collaboration is also applied to the sales division of the company, where the information gleaned from their regular visits to yacht shows and shipyards helps the wider company to stay informed. “These in-person visits are essential for our Consultants to learn what is available, the latest designs, the quality of the finishes in real life, as well as developing their networks,” says Hürzeler. “It’s crucial that our Consultants can speak about a product from experience.”
To further develop our Consultants’ knowledge, Ocean Independence has started a series of keynote speaker sessions with industry partners, held online and open for the entire company to attend. So far this year we have had the privilege of hosting five exceptional speakers showcasing a breadth of expertise.
Perry van Oossanen and Niels Moerke from Van Oossanen Navel Architects shared insights on yacht performance and hull innovations. Captain Matt Callaway from MY ANYA discussed the crucial relationship between Captains and Consultants. Nick Westwood, Executive Director and Villa Specialist at Red Savannah highlighted the top luxury travel hotspots for exclusive villa rentals in 2023, and most recently, Federico Rossi, the COO of Rossinavi, provided invaluable insights into innovative yacht concepts, new developments, and trends in buyer behaviour. At the end of every talk there is a question-and-answer session which is open to all. “Being presented with the opportunity to ask industry leaders direct questions and have a proper conversation is a unique chance,” says Isaacs. “It means our Team can gain a deeper understanding which they wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise, which in turn will benefit our Clients.”
Our Company-wide innovations to develop our collective knowledge has resulted in us creating some spectacular Client experiences throughout the world. From arranging a heli skiing excursion from a yacht in Greenland to supervising the construction of a new build yacht in Taiwan, our Consultants are ideally positioned to cater to every requirement.
So, what does the future hold for Client innovation at Ocean Independence? “Our aspiration is always to make the yachting experience as much fun and as enjoyable as it can be,” says Hürzeler. “I believe we already do that very successfully today, but there is always more to do to polish and develop that experience.”
“We aim to leave the Client with as little to do as possible,” he adds. “They are time poor and by making the experience more technical, via an app for example, it would pass the work and responsibility back to them. Airlines have done this and it’s not really what we want to do; we want our Clients to simply have enjoyment. The human experience is at the heart of everything we do.”