We sat down with Selina Schwarzenbacher, founder of Euro Yachting, to talk about the journey to date and plans for the future of the business.
How did you come up with the idea for the business?
I've been surrounded by entrepreneurship throughout my childhood and there are many business owners in my family. However, when I started my tourism Bachelors degree, I honestly didn't think I'd launch a startup.
But my uncle, who has been a charter agent for 14 years, retired recently and wanted to pass on his business to me. I was thrilled, however, I had a new idea in mind. The idea disrupts the regular yacht charter market by connecting high-end hospitality with the yacht charter market, creating "floating hotel rooms". To dive deeper into sailing tourism, I also devoted my Bachelor Thesis to this topic.
Whilst studying, I also participated in a Mentoring program that my university offered. A few months into the exchange with my mentor, the idea began to get more concrete and I pitched the concept of the floating hotel rooms to my first client: The Familux group (https://www.familux.com/en/).
We created an extraordinary sailing experience for their customer segment - families with high standards. They not only became our first client but also investors in the company.
Why does the industry need the solution you're providing?
The highly competitive tourism market always needs innovations to surprise, impress and ultimately retain existing and potential guests. With the "floating hotel rooms" hotel guests experience unforgettable days at sea with all the benefits they are used to from a vacation in the respective hotel.
We want to create a different mindset and change the way people book yachts as there is still a large proportion of people who have not thought about chartering a yacht until they saw that the Familux Group offers it. It is a new way to generate bookings, and it creates an elevated customer journey throughout the whole experience.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
That I get to travel and get to be creative when it comes to product development. Also, I love the exchange with the guests, the staff and the combination of my two passions - the hospitality industry, and yachting.
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
Staying organised and managing all the different responsibilities of being a CEO. Also, it was hard staying focused on the most important topics - for example, reminding myself that I just needed to pick up the phone and call potential (hotel) clients directly.
Any bits of advice for entrepreneurs getting started in this space?
Think hard about your WHY (I know, what an all-time classic) and your vision. This will help you to stay focused in uncertain times and push through the hard times. Also, I would recommend talking to a whole lot of different stakeholders that might be interested in your product/service as this will give you many valuable insights from the beginning.
Surround yourself with people who share your spirit and get a good team. Decide early on which parts you want to keep doing yourself because you're good at them, but also outsource tasks where you don't have expertise.
What's the plan for the future of the business? Where do you see the company in 3-5 years?
Right now, we're trying to expand the concept to new hotel brands, see how different marinas/yachts work for various target groups and in general, learn more about our market position.
Also, we want to offer our collected knowledge to fleet operators who want to tap into the Luxury charter market, and become a travel design company for the Mediterranean Sea (with a focus on sailing of course!).