Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Update on SeaDream Yacht Club - Smooth Seas and Stability Promised

According to industry publications, such as Seatrade, Atle Brynestad, CEO...again...has stated that SeaDream's bookings are strong and that while he expects some changes in titles and duties since Larry Pimental's departure, there will be no corporate shake up and that he considers SeaDream to be a "family".

Mr. Brynestad, former CEO of Seabourn, former chairman of Cunard and former board member of Carnival Corp., has stated that operations will stay in Miami, but that he will work primarily from Oslo, Norway (his home).  Personally, I am all in favor of the internet, telecommuting, emails and the like, but concepts like  "hands on", "putting face to it", "having your ear to the ground (water)", etc. are very important concepts in business.  We shall see how this plays out.

He also claims that SeaDream's 2009 bookings are slightly behind 2008's bookings (claimed to be a record year), but are still considered "normal".  He asserts this is, in large part, due to loyal past passengers rebooking.  Considering SeaDream's fine reputation, I have every reason to believe this to be true.

That said, I have no knowledge of SeaDream's measure of "bookings", but bookings based on passenger counts is far different from dollar volume or net revenues; especially in this time of significant discounts and cancel for any reason offers.  (As an example, while I was out in Lake Tahoe, claims of lift ticket sales being down "only" 10% was clearly an optimistic view, as I know the price per ticket was also down from $83 to $50 if you took one of the multi-day deals...a 40% discount.  So with actual tickets down 10%, but ticket revenues down 20-40%, the real picture is far more bleak.)  Personally, I think the departure of LP has to be related to such issues in some fashion, but I really don't know.

One thing that remains a mystery is why Larry Pimental left, if he still is an investor and where he goes from here.  Apparently both people are being very tight-lipped.  This suggests to me (putting my lawyer hat on) that they are negotiating something at the moment and have been instructed to say nothing.  A wise move.  I am sure it will all come out shortly.