Broker of the Month: Nicolas Fry, Denison Yachting
A keen sailor with an eye for the finer things in life, Nicolas Fry got his first taste of the yachting industry when his father asked him to promote his 25m sailing yacht for charter. Having always been drawn to beautiful boats, he went on to work as a charter broker and yacht manager for several companies in the south of France, and also worked a season as steward/deckhand on a sailing yacht in the Med.
Fast forward to today and Nicolas recently joined Denison Yachting as charter management director in Europe, overseeing the charter fleet and growing charter management operations in the Med. In anticipation of the upcoming MYBA Charter Show, where Nicolas will be on hand to meet with clients and promote the company’s expansion into Europe, we chat to him about current and future charter market trends, the most popular superyacht hotspots, and how the brokerage house is setting industry records with its Bitcoin transactions for yacht sales and yacht charter.
Where did you grow up and how did you first discover yachting?
I was born in Lille and grew up in the north of France until I finished my studies. I moved to Paris in 2000 to work, travelled around the world for a year and then relocated in Nice. In 2005, my father bought a 25m sailing yacht called Django Too and asked me to promote her on the charter market. That was my first step in yachting.
What was your first job in the yachting industry and how did it come about?
In 2008, I joined Wilmar Yachts in Antibes as a charter broker and then Magellan Yacht Management as a yacht manager. I was in charge of crew placement, shipyard visits, class and flag surveys. It was a great way to learn the ropes of this business.
You recently joined Denison Yachting as Charter Management Director in Europe, based in Monaco – what are your ambitions in this new post?
I joined Denison Yachting in January 2023 as the charter management director for Europe. My mission is to build a charter fleet here in the Med and manage the yachts travelling around the world. My ambition is to offer a quality service of charter management to our clients and to share my experience with my own team. My goal is to manage a large fleet of classic and modern yachts over 30 metres with talented charter managers and to make my clients and captains happy.
What sets Denison Yachting apart, what do they do really well?
Denison Yachting is an American based company created in 1948 and probably the only large brokerage house which is not yet well known in Europe. We are considered the global leader in digital marketing on the US market with a focus on videos, social media and advanced IT tools. Bob Denison is at the forefront of our company’s communications, presenting a family friendly image and promoting a cool company culture. We have a strong presence at every yacht show and offer a sales-driven approach to our clients.
What trends are you seeing in the way charter yachts are marketed and how is this different compared to even five years ago?
The use of video is now more important than photography. We don’t have printed brochures anymore, everything is now digital, and we promote the yachts through social media and communicate with brokers via WhatsApp.
What are some of the buzzwords you hear – what types of charter experience are clients looking for?
It’s all about exploration and sustainability. Guests want to get a unique experience, discover a new destination where they will be away from the crowds, enjoy a healthy time and the yacht must respect the ocean.
What are the current yachting hotspots – where is popular right now?
The destination is key. Yachts are now promoted in a specific destination and the number of destinations is growing every year. The new trend is towards the poles, Arctic/Svalbard or Patagonia/Antarctica. Yachts are travelling further afield as they become explorer yachts. Even in the Med, yachts are moving around and cruise around the Greek Islands or the Kornati Islands in Croatia.
Have you noticed a growing concern for the environment among clients in terms of their choice of vessel or the operations on board?
Yes, clients are now concerned about fuel consumption, their carbon footprint and not polluting the environment. The crews are very active and create charter programs with less plastic on board, education programs for the guests about the protection of the sea and useful activities like beach clean-ups.
Do you participate in any industry initiatives to reduce environmental impact?
Yes, I am very active on that front. Admiration and respect for the ocean have been part of my life since I learned sailing. I took part in the London to Monaco cycle ride organised by the Blue Marine Foundation three times, raising more than €1,000,000 for ocean conservation projects, and I’m involved with different associations and am a member of the environment committee of MYBA. I also created a special charter management program for owners who wish to finance projects of ocean conservation with charter revenues.
We hear of a looming downturn in light of world events – are you seeing any signs of a slow-down in the demand for charters?
No, the charter market is going very well and is growing every year. There are 50 per cent more yachts available for charter compared to 10 years ago, and they are getting booked by younger clients from various countries around the world.
Does Denison Yachting accept crypto payments for charters or sales and do you see this becoming a standard option across the industry?
Yes, Denison Yachting was the first to accept cryptocurrency for a yacht sale in 2016. Then in June 2018, Denison’s first Bitcoin-booked charter was made. Fast forward seven years and the firm has completed more Bitcoin transactions for yacht sales and yacht charter than any other brokerage house.
What changes do you foresee in the charter market over the next 10 years?
I think the market will be twice as big, and the offer will be very different with more destinations, more sailing yachts and better service.
What’s your favourite yacht and what do you love about it?
Django Too, a 25m sloop built by Tréhard in 1991. She will always be close to my heart as she was our family yacht. I have been a charter guest, the owner’s rep, the charter manager, the yacht manager and even the sales broker!
If you were booking a charter this summer, where would you go and why?
I’d take a sailing yacht from Naples to visit my friend Marcello at his boutique hotel, Casa Mariantonia, in Capri, before cruising down to the Aeolian Islands to see the Stromboli spitting fire at night. I’d have dinner in Panarea, climb on top of the volcano on Salina, swim around the beautiful waters of Alicudi, have a drink at the yacht club of Filicudi and disembark in Palermo, Sicily.
What’s next on your personal bucket list?
Sailing around the world with my family for a few years.
If you weren’t working in the superyacht industry, what would you be doing?
I would welcome guests in my boutique hotel or B&B in a beautiful region of France or Italy, offering the greatest hospitality to my clients.
What’s a lesser-known fact about yourself that would surprise your colleagues?
I love music and I used to be a DJ when I was 20 years old to pay for my studies…
What are you plans for the MYBA Charter Show later this month?
I’ll be there to support the event, meet with brokers, visit yachts and enjoy the special vibe of a charter show. I'm also organising a cocktail party with brokers and captains to let everyone know that Denison Yachting is now in Europe!
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