Jacqui Lockhart is a woman of many talents. In addition to running Select Charter Services, the Glasgow born businesswoman is Vice President of MYBA and also at the helm of the MYBA Charter Show in Genoa in her capacity as head of the organising MYBA Panel.
We caught up with Jacqui on a typically squally Genoa day at the Porto Antico as she outlined ambitious plans for the future of the show, which is managed by Pesto Sea Group. First off, it seems likely that it will switch location in 2017 from Genoa to another destination, possibly on the Côte d’Azur.
‘If you have anything to do with yacht charter, this is the place to be,’ says Jacqui. ‘The show has been here for 13 years and we have a two year cancellation period so we have handed in notice to review moving to another location. Lots of people are coming up with suggestions of where to go and we are open to proposals.
'The show was based in San Remo for many years but as the yachts got larger, and MYBA took on the Show, we moved it here. It will go out to tender but we are making a preliminary list of possibilities. My role is to find the best place for the members, the owners and the clients. Logistically, that could mean somewhere along the Cote d’Azur between here and Marseille. We may also make it shorter by a couple of days.’
The unique selling point of the Genoa show is the fact that it is not open to the public. It grows in stature year on year and Jacqui adds: ‘There is no other show like this. The central agents, the brokers and the captains all say this is a quality show. The brokers visiting the yachts will have or have already had enquiries for this sector of the industry.’
Despite a slow start to business this year, dictated by unpredictable weather and recently introduced VAT regulations, Jacqui is largely encouraged by the buzz around the show.
‘Some owners are pushing for their yachts to be sold and we are in a transitional period but there is good demand for new yachts and big yachts from a large Russian and Ukrainian clientele,’ she says. ‘This year we were inundated with exhibitor requests. We could do with more exhibitors’ space but the Molo Vecchio is only so long and this is where people want to be as it’s the main part of the show. With business being a little harder, it’s important to be here, particularly for the overseas brokers who come to see what’s changed on a yacht and how the crew are working.
‘We are seeing so many new companies here too. We used a new provisioner for the cocktail party this year and we had sponsors for the seminars. My priority is to make it interesting and the priority for brokers is to visit the yachts and meet companies that are providing services to charter.’
Jacqui is perfectly placed to understand the needs of the market. She graduated in Business Studies, French and German at Edinburgh Napier University and landed her first job at Camper & Nicholsons at the age of 21. ‘I married a captain, did deliveries and helped crew between charters,’ she recalls. ‘I sometimes feel I should have more experience on the yachting side but I don’t think it has hindered me.’
Following 13 years at Camper & Nicholsons, which culminated in Jacqui running the Charter Management Division, she set up Select Charter Services in Villefranche 10 years ago and describes her company as ‘a one man band’, adding: ‘I was managing the Mirabellas and Mirabella 5, the big 75 metre sloop. They’ve now sold and I have about six other yachts that I manage. I’m happy, I enjoy what I do and I have some nice repeat clients and enough time to look after them. You have to keep doing a good job and hope that people remember that. If you can be relied on and trusted, people will come back.’
Having just been elected as MYBA vice president and continuing chairwoman of the MYBA Charter Boat Show Panel for a further two years, Jacqui is hoping to increase membership and strengthen the association. ‘There are nine board members, seven of whom have just been re-elected, and we all feel strongly about continuity,’ she says. ‘It’s a voluntary position so people have to prioritise their day job but we have a healthy budget and very supportive staff in admin, including Cora Tracey, who has been here for 14 years and is the heart of the organisation. If you’re reasonably organised, you can juggle it. It’s so fulfilling.
‘Communication is one area we want to improve. Marta Iglesias, who is with Fraser Yachts in Palma, has just taken over the communication committee and she has some great ideas. We want to let people know it’s not difficult and that it’s helpful to have an input. We are keen to recruit the younger generation with fresh ideas and a new outlook on the industry. They want a quicker form of communication so we met recently with Young Professionals in Yachting and we’re trying to build links with them and get new members. They have groups in Monaco and Fort Lauderdale and I learnt a lot from them. We need regeneration.
‘There are yachting staff who are not MYBA members and it’s up to us to educate them and encourage them to become individual members of MYBA. The tools of our industry - the MYBA Charter Agreement, the Yachtfolio database and the Sales Memorandum of Agreement - were all created and administered by MYBA.’
Jacqui hopes she can encourage more collaboration between different aspects of the industry. ‘The association represents big and small companies. A lot of charter and sales brokers only look at their own thing but then you get other people who are able to divide their attention. We want to push quality and detail and work with brokers who take the time to do the job properly. When you book a yacht, you are at the mercy of how detailed the broker is and how much follow up they give. Some owners and clients like to work with big companies and others prefer a smaller, more personal service. There’s room for everyone.’
Reducing plastic wastage and becoming more ecologically friendly is one key area Jacqui would like to see more progress in as well as the tax arena and the general lack of berths around Europe. ‘I would like to do more to educate people ecologically,’ she says. ‘There should be more information for crew and perhaps some more talks at the different shows exploring these issues. It’s something we need to improve on.
‘We are also trying to improve the tax side of things. We invest a lot in assistance for lobbying in Brussels and we work with the European Committee for Professional Yachting. There was a recent MYBA sponsored Debate Panel during the ISS Seminars at the 2014 Antibes Show, and what came out of that was that we need to sit down with the ISS and other associations and try and find some common ground. We are hoping to work on that.
‘Berths have been a problem for a long time. Before, you would never go beyond San Remo, but now it’s Genoa and Imperia, and some boats winter in Montenegro or Port Vell in Barcelona. People will sail 600 miles to get a berth.’
With a long list of challenges ahead, Jacqui remains optimistic about the future and loves the fact that Genoa brings together so many familiar faces. ‘I look forward to coming here because there are so many people you don’t get to see often,’ she adds. ‘It’s so important for people to meet face to face at shows like this.’