TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Switzerland-based group sailing booking and tour service Seven Sails.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
SevenSails organises individual weeklong sailing holidays for non-sailors and sailors alike. SevenSails makes yachting holidays, normally reserved for the jet set, affordable and accessible.
We currently have tours in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, but SevenSails is looking to offer sailing holidays to some of the world’s most stunning sailing destinations.
Philipp Gaschütz is the founder of SevenSails. After heading his own data centre company for more than eight years and consulting for various IT related projects, Philipp decided he felt more at home at sea as opposed to being surrounded by a sea of data and numbers.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
None, SevenSails is 100% self-financed
What problem are you trying to solve?
In general, sailing, yachting, whatever you call it, is primarily aimed at three groups: 1) the über-wealthy yacht owners who spend most of the year voyaging from one port to another. 2) the professional yachter or the adrenalin-seeking sportsman 3) those who prefer the leisurely evening sail around the harbour, dinner cruises, or the ever popular mammoth cruise ships.
SevenSails is combining the best of all these worlds to make sailing 1) accessible and affordable, 2) fun for the non-diehard sailor, 3) equal parts adventure, relaxation and fun.
We are bringing sailing and all that goes with it to a younger generation.
In our core segment, we saw that many friends like to holiday together as well. Up until now, where could five, six, seven, or eight friends go together? You could rent out a few rooms at a hotel. You could rent out a finca. But every morning, you’d still be in the same place with the same surroundings.
A SevenSails holiday gives you access to a floating finca where each day brings new scenery, new destinations and new possibilities of how to spend your day.
Describe the business, core products and services?
SevenSails offers weeklong sailing holidays. We have 30 yachts (at most) on option for our different sailing holidays.
Customers must rent out an entire boat as opposed to a spot, yachts hold between four and 12 people. SevenSails creates a weeklong itinerary mapping out where the majority of yachts will go: uninhabited islands, quaint harbour towns, local restaurants, rented-out nightclubs, etc.
This itinerary serves as a guide of where the SevenSails planned activities will take place, but each yacht can choose where to go, when to go and with whom to go.
So SevenSails uses the term "tour" quite loosely, it’s not a yachting convoy, it’s more like: "Here’s where we’re going to be, stop by if you’d like to take part in the action."
In terms of services, we take care of the booking, logistics and the overall planning of the route and activities.
We also take care of transfers to and from the marina, hotel bookings if required and most importantly we match up skippers to those people who have either no sailing experience or would prefer to have someone else do the navigating.
Furthermore we offer the SevenSails Water Taxi, enabling holidaymakers to get a lift to wherever they wish to go.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We started out as a couple of friends renting sailing yachts for our own personal sailing holiday.
Word got out within our inner circle, our friends told their friends who told their friends and so on.
When SevenSails was launched, our customer base typically reflected the demographics of the original circle of friends: 25 – 45 years old, who enjoy holidaying with their friends, are looking for the right mixture of adventure, relaxation and fun and gravitate towards uncomplicated, but memorable holidays.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
The idea to create a company called SevenSails grew organically. It was the so-called validation and enthusiasm of friends and customers that led to more sailing holidays and ultimately the launch of SevenSails.
The interest shown in our sailing holidays was all the encouragement I needed to personally invest in this venture.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
SevenSails weeklong holidays are being sold via our homepage, exclusively online. Currently, our revenue model focuses on renting out the yachts.
If we rent out all of the yachts per week, an average of 30 yachts, then we have done well from a monetary standpoint.
Our profitability derives from the commission we receive on the yacht bookings. Furthermore we are planning our first B2B events, which deem as an end-to-end incentive event package.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Easy and affordable access to sailing holidays.
- Easy booking and information platform.
- Information and promotion that is focused on non-sailors.
- Unique possibilities for where and how to holiday with your friends.
- The people that book SevenSails holidays normally have the same demographic, so you have a very good chance of meeting like-minded people and making new friends.
- The freedom of SevenSailors to follow your own course when sailing. SevenSails is not a tour guide at sea, but we provide advice and tips for those who ask.
- There are limited dates per year when SevenSails holidays take place and we do get many enquiries from people requesting different dates, which we simply cannot accommodate.
- The notion that people have to book an entire boat, forces them to coordinate their holidays well in advance, i.e. gather their friends.
- Last-minute bookings are therefore highly unlikely.
- SevenSails needs to provide a pre-determined route for the costumers’ orientation, BUT they do not need to follow it. Explaining this often proves to be difficult.
- SevenSails current range of destinations only includes Greece and Italy.
- There is a general trend towards holidays that are different to the norm.
- Travellers want more experiential travel, holidays that are more than just a nice hotel room in a new destination.
- There are plenty of destinations around the world that are attractive for sailing holidays
- The B2B segment offers an attractive market for incentive and group travel experiences.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Other companies jumping on the bandwagon.
- Lack of on-the-ground knowledge when we expand our holidays to other countries.
Actually, as mentioned earlier, the very idea of SevenSails grew organically. SevenSails, before it even had a proper name, was a group of friends sailing together.
Friends of friends began to join us more and more. Right from the start, everyone was extremely supportive and encouraging.
So there really wasn’t anyone to dissuade us from what we were planning to do and even if they had, we would have tended to amend the course only slightly, since we know from experience that the overall idea works!
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We would be looking at 10 fully booked events, with our first three B2B events successfully completed in addition to introducing SevenSails holidays in and around Thailand and the Caribbean.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.