Carla Demaria, president of Monte Carlo Yachts, says yachting companies have upped the game to meet the changing needs of Chinese customers. STYLE caught up with her to find out more.
You’ve been in the trade for over two decades now. How have the demands of Chinese yacht owners and buyers evolved?
Over the past two decades, we have seen a strong evolution of Chinese customers, both in quantity, due to the impressive growth of millionaires, and in qualitative terms, due to greater knowledge of [yachts]. But the greatest evolution has [come from] manufacturers exporting to China. They have evolved their products to better meet the different needs of the Chinese clientele. The main players have moved from an “adapted yacht” to a “designed yacht” for the Chinese market, so that’s important in a company’s strategy. But this is a big effort. The iPhone in my hands is the same as the one in a Chinese lady’s hands, but not our yachts.
You were with Azimut for more than 20 years before joining Monte Carlo Yachts [MCY]. What motivated you to join MCY?
My 20 years with Azimut were a great period of my life and that allowed me to gain a wide experience. In 2008, I thought [about creating] a project from scratch. Beneteau Group has allowed me to do this. Of course, I was not alone and Fabrizio Iarrera,now managing director at MCY, has been with me from the very beginning.
What has been the best lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?
To continue to learn from one’s own experience and that of others and then dare [to dream].
You’ve been with Monte Carlo Yachts since the very beginning. What would you say has been the single most effective strategy you’ve implemented so far?
The fundamental one has been to blend cultures – the Italian leadership in luxury yacht design and the industrial know-how of the Beneteau Group. It’s a unique, powerful and dramatically effective combination. Also, I think it’s important to [be daring and come up with] an unprecedented and innovative architectural structure and construction process, which has obtained a world patent.
Monte Carlo Yachts offers a variety of customisation options. Why is that important for today’s customers?
It’s quite simple. Our customers build and decorate their homes according to their tastes and needs so they would never accept a cookie-cutter design. They look for the same uniqueness in their yacht and we offer them an almost unlimited customisation.
Compared to business jets, are there any specific challenges for the luxury yachting market in China?
Both jets and yachts talk to the same target but not exactly for the same purpose: for rich businessmen a jet is a means that increases their efficiency as it allows to maximise their timing. The faster the journey, the better. With a yacht the journey is a pleasure – they don’t want to just go from point A to point B, but discover nature and beautiful landscapes. Yachting needs a different [strategy in China] as yachts are also used for business meetings.
We’ve seen more Chinese investing in luxury yachting manufacturers. How does this change the yachting world?
We are in a global and open world and luxury yacht brands appeal to powerful Chinese [investors]. New capital can enhance a company’s development and I see [this as a positive thing if the company can] keep the DNA of the brand and its heritage, which at the end are the values it has acquired.
Y ou are a visionary for many people. Who inspires you?
I keep a great interest in everything going on around me, of course with a particular eye to yachting, where I think we still have great pages to write. If we talk about a personality, I answer without doubt Madame Beneteau-Roux, third generation of the yachting world leaders. She [made it possible for] the dream of MCY to come true, she is a source of inspiration for many.