Cecil Wright Is Guiding Clients Through Its Boutique Yacht Collection With VR And AR

14 January 2021 - By Nargess Banks, Forbes

Cecil-Wright is a boutique yacht brokerage - Stuart Pearce

Chris Cecil-Wright runs a boutique yacht brokerage. With over 25 years’ experience buying, selling and building large vessels, he set up Cecil-Wright in 2013 as a specialist firm to look after a small and select group of customers. The business model is anchored on building personal relationships with each client - be it small charters or superyachts. I caught up with the company founder to see how the pandemic has impacted on his business and to get a feel for future trends within the yacht industry.

Nargess Banks: Yours is a business built on nurturing a close relationship with your clients. How would you describe your approach?

Chris Cecil-Wright: I like to take the time to really get to know a new client. When you have a good relationship with someone you absorb their idea of value, size, quality and any other important drivers they might have. Most importantly, you’re able to be frank. This is why we look after a small number of customers.

And does this also apply to the yachts in your portfolio?

This is much the same with the yachts we represent. In order to provide a serious level of deep knowledge we have to specialize. The market is now too big to know everything about every yacht, so we have chosen the northern European sector with a particular passion for the yacht builders Feadship.

How have technologies like 3D scanning and virtual reality helped navigate your customers around their commissioned vessels during the pandemic restrictions?

We started using 3D scans five years ago thinking at worst it might be a gimmick, but it became an invaluable business tool long before Covid-19. The level of detail is incredible. It is based on technology the FBI use in crime scenes, so it’s impossible to tamper with - meaning a crafty salesman can’t airbrush out imperfections - and you can zoom in on the finest details. A prospective buyer can see even the smallest dent in wood paneling. Crucially, all those vested in the purchase can be part of the decision-making process.

What other impact do advanced technologies, namely augmented reality, have on your work?

AR is extremely important for boats under construction. Using the tool in a new build or for refitting removes the level of uncertainly about what the client is paying for and what the finished product will look like. It means they can feel comfortable with what they have bought and it allows them to be part of every stage of the process. AR can help the client sign off at each stage and provide immediate feedback without the need to travel.

Can you bring an example...

Our next project is the creation of a virtual marina where clients can step aboard a yacht and compare boats alongside each other as they would if they were moored in a marina. That will be the next game-changer.

Is sustainability a priority with design and if so, what are the limitations when it comes to yachts?

Our partner, Feadship, is working towards a time when motor yachts, as a whole, are as clean as a sailboat while retaining all the practicalities of a powerboat. Between 2007 and 2013, the team created a selection of eco-friendly future designs to inspire the next-generation of owners. One of these concepts has since been brought to life on the 84-meter Savannah, launched in 2015 as the first luxury motor yacht with hybrid power. Feadship is also researching other paths for environmental innovation, such as methanol, hydrogen application and the scaling up of battery banks.

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