Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

MB in his article on the Boat Show noticed this little bit of snobbery:
At the Sea Isle Marina in Bayshore, all of the boats were new and all you had to do to go aboard was take off your shoes. Over on Miami Beach, the boats were all "brokeraged," which is a fancy way of saying "used," and you had to go through the process of making an appointment to go aboard. That meant giving your name and address to the lady at the front desk. This was to accomplish two things; keep the riff-raff off the yachts (for the record, I was Riff and Boatboy was Raff), and to get us on their mailing list so they can send us glossy catalogues of boats that are being sold off by the folks who lost their ass to Bernie Madoff.

Boat shopping is as much about how the marque treats you as how they actually build and support their product. For the (however remotely) prospective buyer, the brokerage's approach has as much to do with the impression as the boat inspected.

MB and I got treated to two vastly different experiences on virtually adjacent docks.

At the Azimut exhibit, the front desk was friendly and, despite technical difficulties, found us appointments to board our choice of yachts and a friendly broker to walk us through. Sodas, beer and espresso were on the house, and we were encouraged to take our time and explore as much as we wanted. We cut the visit short more from concerns about timing than anything else - I would have loved to see their larger craft but we had dinner plans - but the three models we boarded were a joy to see, and our broker, rather than follow our immediate thought of smallest-to-largest progression (which would have been a useful sales tactic) managed to arrange our viewing so that we were the only ones on each vessel at a time. I was impressed not only by the yachts themselves (Azimut is one of the most respected marques), but by the genuine concern for us and our viewing experience.

In contrast, the Lazzara exhibit was a madhouse, and the staff were less than helpful. It started poorly: I don't expect on asking for an appointment to board, to be asked in turn whether I already have an appointment. Traffic control was almost non-existent, and it took five of the staff to pin down a single broker to escort us aboard. Misspelling my name (and hence my email address for future contacts) didn't help matters either: perhaps I should have left well enough alone, as after that experience I'm unlikely to consider Lazzara in the future.

There are also also practical limitations to boatbuilding, which some firms attend to and some don't. Again, the difference between the two was striking. Azimut made much of advanced stabilising equipment, stain-resistant upholstery, stainless steel backsplashes for the galley stove (attractive accent and safety feature all in one), and many other features intended to improve cruising and preserve the investment. The Lazzara we reviewed was entirely the product of the buyer's wishes. She was straight out of a remake of Mujeres al Bord de un Ataque de Nervios set in Buenos Aires or Santiago instead of Madrid: glass surfaces and white furnishings sure to suffer from contact with salt water (from wet boaters), residential appliances ill-suited to the motion of any vessel, and a host of other items that were either inappropriate for life at sea or a guarantee of maintenance and support issues later on. Azimut seems to ensure that buyers will have guidance on what's best for a marine environment while fitting out a new buyer's vessel: Lazzara seems too happy to get the cheque to say no to anything a buyer wants.

Final score: Azimut 10, Lazzara 0.

No comments:

Post a Comment