A little more than a week ago, I was invited to speak at a Florida Yacht Brokers Association seminar for luxury yacht charter brokers. My topic was publishing law, requested by a good number of brokers who are now using blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the like to promote the message of yacht charter. I helped them understand things like copyright law and libel, so they can comment and Tweet without worry.
One of the brokers raised a point during another speaker's talk that day, a point that left me shaking my head in amazement. This broker had recently attended a meeting of the Luxury Marketing Council, where discussion included the possibility that using social media denigrates luxury brands.
That attitude continues to amaze me. In my opinion, it's like saying, "Why should we use e-mail to promote yacht charter? Isn't e-mail full of spam?" Social media---like e-mail, blogs, magazines, snail mail, the Pony Express, and town criers way back in the day---is simply a form of communication. It's a channel through which a message can be delivered. Yes, some people use it to spew nonsense into the world, but savvy businesspeople are now using social media to connect with serious clients, including those in upper financial demographics.
The most recent example from the world of luxury yacht charter is Shannon Webster, who owns Florida-based Shannon Webster Yacht Charters. (That's Webster in the photograph above.) On August 13, she uploaded this post to her company's Facebook page: "New England is booking very quickly as the summer is coming to a close. There are very few available larger motor yachts that have an open calendar. Many owners are using their boats at the end of August, causing further lack of inventory. Northern Lights, the 132' Westship, and Sovereign, the 120' Broward, still have open time on their charter books. Inquire today before they are gone!"
Less than a week later, Webster announced a 10-day booking as a direct result: "It pays to use Social Media. Just booked Northern Lights yesterday for 9 nights, only 4 days after posting her availability in New England on my FaceBook wall."
Northern Lights is a charter yacht with a top weekly base rate of $90,000. If securing a 10-day booking from a Facebook post equals "denigration" of its brand, then I'll eat my keyboard.
Kudos to Webster for her smart use of social media, and to the fruit it has borne for her company. I hope that charter brokers who fear and avoid social media (and the Web in general) will learn from the example that Webster is setting.
Editor's Note: Shannon Webster is a sponsor of CharterWave, where this blog originates.