An executive member with a long experience in sales, chartering and yacht management.
Thanks to his versatile personality and deep knowledge of the yachting industry, Mr. Michael Skoulikidis has become an internationally acknowledged industry professional with a notable career course. Today he continues doing what he knows well: he manages one of the leading sales, management & chartering companies and stands at the helm of the Greek Yachting Association. In view of the 2nd Mediterranean Yacht Show, we met him first at his office and then at the environment which has become his second nature, the yacht.
Aspirations and objectives of the Mediterranean Yacht Show…
“All Charter Shows in Greece, starting with the International Yachting Symposium first held in 2002 at Marina Floisvos -whose organizing committee I presided over for the first five events-, are based on the idea of promoting Greece and Greek professional yachts abroad. Foreign charter brokers are invited to take a close look at the fleet so that they can choose and recommend the yachts to their clients. Moreover, the event hopes to both become a platform for the exchange of information and views and also to create an improved image of the fleet, the crews and the services.
I believe that through this vibrant procedure – from the days of Flisvos (2002) and then the events in Poros and all the way to last year’s Mediterranean Yacht Show in Nafplio – our main target of promoting sea tourism as a whole is being accomplished.”
The benefits arising from the event…
“The entire fleet improves and evolves. During the show, the primary focus falls on the direct contact of the charter brokers with the yachts and that is because, practically, they are the ones who will share their opinion with the clients about the charter. Charter brokers keep a detailed record and spend at least two hours on each boat, making rigorous checks. They discuss with the crew, check the chef’s prowess, and the crew’s readiness. They check the captain’s social skills and how the cabin crew waits on guests, etc. Having drawn an overall mental picture, they decide whether they will recommend the yacht or not. It is impossible for an acknowledged charter broker to add to his list a yacht whose crew and condition have not proved highly satisfying.”
“What we have achieved over the last 10 years – and this is no coincidence - is a significant increase in crewed charters. What is equally important is the fact that Greece has earned a place on the map of luxury chartering. In previous years, the only protagonist in the Mediterranean basin was southern France, from where charters started their trip to Greece. We now have big quality yachts based in Greece. We have exquisite crews that receive ongoing training and, of course, experienced captains specialized in specific classes and types. Even though we have traditionally had good crews in Greece, yachting is a completely different field: apart from yachtsmanship, a range of different skills is considered mandatory. A coastline ferry or cruiser captain has a different approach and different duties. The captains of our vessels need to be the “conductors of a philharmonic orchestra”; they need to seamlessly coordinate their crew, to be marketers, communicative and skilled in public relations, knowing that they will come into contact with the guests on a daily basis. Having said that, we have created a pool of crew members for all positions; people who can rise to the occasion and meet special demands.
The “yacht-crew” ensemble bears no resemblance to what we used to know. The yachts come from well known yards and their maintenance has been meticulous and pricey, whereas crew members are highly trained. I believe that Charter Shows can contribute to evolution and the benefits therein are reaped by the entire market.
The Mediterranean Yacht Show
“With a view to promoting progress in the fields already mentioned, as of last year we have created a new Show, a truly extroverted exhibition that addresses the foreign charter brokers directly. Our aim is to promote our yachts, exchange views, offer guests an opportunity to talk to the crews and express their views. I believe that this opportunity to communicate creates the yeast that produces evolution and evolution is what makes us more competitive.
Foreign charter brokers bring more than 95% of charters and, as I’ve already mentioned, they are who we focus on.”
The Greek Yachting Association is a new association with experienced executives….
“The spirit of our time, our view and approach, has led to the creation of the Greek Yachting Association. The companies dealing in chartering have decided on a more high-octane promotion of the Show and our yachts abroad. The Show’s promotion abroad is high-powered and comprises a set of actions, ranging from the participation of our members in all international boat shows and ample advertising on all international niche media, to the organization of events and receptions during leading International Shows like those of Monaco and Antigua.”
The Association’s financing....
“There is none. The Show is held thanks to the donations of GYA members and any possible revenue arising from the show, is reinvested in it. Our financial statements are announced in detail during the year-end board meeting and all documentation remains at the members’ disposal. Let me remind you that you were present during the last meeting and listened to our budgeting in every detail.”
Partners from abroad....
“We have a close cooperation with the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (ΜΥΒΑ) - the Worldwide Yachting Association. In 2014, MYBA supported the Show with the attendance of FYBA (Florida Yacht Brokers Association) and ECPY (European Committee for Professional Yachting). We have, therefore, forged alliances with the greatest International Associations of our industry aiming to promote Greece and sea tourism.”
Partners from within...
“As of last year, the Show is under the aegis of the Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean, yet this does not presuppose financial support. However, we have received substantial and vital support from the Municipality of Nafplion and the Administrative District of Peloponnese.
Promoting Greek Tourism...
“Since we promote tourism in Greece, we would appreciate the support of the Ministry of Tourism. At this point it is important to note that we promote tourism for high-income visitors from abroad and not just people in Greece, which would simply be an attempt to create a stir. Our clients set the trends of the market. The people who charter our yachts are VIPs, Hollywood stars, Formula 1 drivers, and, generally, truly affluent people. When they arrive at an island, it goes viral over various international media and this is how Greece is promoted through one more hard-to-get channel. We wish to make these people our “ambassadors”. They are the most efficient advertising and they are the ones who set the trends internationally. The benefits are numerous for sea tourism, the islands and the market. Every summer, many actors visit our country: the Kardashians came to Mykonos, Sebastian Vettel, Κobe Βryant and many more.
Another one of our activities for the support of tourism in Greece are the fam trips. Every year, using private funds, we organize a trip for renowned foreign publishers of niche magazines. They live the experience of the Greek archipelago with us and they get a taste of our hospitality as well as the chance to shape a personal opinion. Later on, they present that opinion in their magazines or the media they cooperate with. It is hard to pin down the impact of this initiative but the benefits are multiple. A story with a personal touch about Small Cyclades, for instance, bears immense added value and offers unique promotion for our country.
And this is how we promote Greece without encumbering the State budget.
Interviewed by Gerasimos Gerolimatos
Photos Christos Petropoulos
Styling/Concept Dimitra Chronopoulou
-*Mr Michael Skoulikidis is the CEO of Atalanta Golden Yachts