The crew are always integral to the luxury yacht charter success!
Some yachts are harder than others to sell to potential charter guests. This is particularly true of explorer style yachts but an enthusiastic owner can make all the difference. The rugged appearance of the yacht can be off-putting to some but once guests have been on board they cannot believe the space available and often return for a repeat charter.
Jacqui Lockhart, with Select Charter Services, is central agent for the 36m explorer yacht Private Lives. She says, “Over the years, the crew have done an excellent job but for me, the reason for the yacht’s continued success in an ever difficult market is due to the owner’s accessibility, commerciality and gentlemanly approach to charter. I recall several occasions when I contacted him to undertake a charter at short notice because I had been let down by another owner. He always made his yacht available at short notice and dealt with the situation very smoothly. I believe this attitude is quite rare and it makes this yacht and her owner stand out from so many others.”
Oh Captain, my Captain
The crew are always integral to a yacht’s success, especially the Captain. No matter how large or small a vessel, the Captain and his or her leadership style will significantly impact the atmosphere on board so it is important that he plays his part in making the yacht stand out from the crowd.
Crew move around and when captains change it is common for crew to change, too. Younger crew such as deckhands and junior stewardesses may stay on a yacht for just one season and it is not unusual for changes to take place during a season. Michelle Blore does not see this as a problem. She says, “We have regular clients who often charter the same yacht with different crew and they have just as good a time as on previous occasions, so there’s nothing magical about ‘the crew’. That’s not to say that crew aren’t an important part of the mix, but if they have the right basic qualities and are properly trained and supported, they’ll do a good job.”
Most crew want guests to enjoy themselves and, given the right training and tools, will apply themselves to achieving this. The advantage of a really good crew is that when the yacht is not on charter, they work hard to maintain the bits you cannot see. They do not just rely on the superficial niceties such as clean decks and polished stainless steel, but equally service the toilets and ensure the water drains properly out of a shower. If the air conditioning is not working or the guests cannot be picked up in the tender because it has broken down, those guests are not going to be happy.
Sometimes it takes a special crew to overcome a potentially disastrous charter and June Montagne, of Yachtzoo, described one charter that began with an enquiry from a tough business-like lawyer. She said, “Nothing seemed to be what he was looking for, he was negative about the whole process. Then we got to the paperwork stage. As a lawyer he wanted the standard Yacht Charter Agreement amended to include many clauses that weren’t even negotiable. Eventually he signed the contract and inevitably the funds took forever to arrive.
"If that wasn’t enough, the short-range weather forecast put the islands he was visiting in the track of an approaching tropical storm packing hurricane force winds. Thankfully the storm settled, the guests boarded on schedule and then spent a few days limited to sheltered anchorages close to the yacht’s base. All attempts to contact my client failed until I got hold of him after the charter. It turned out he could not have had a better time, the boat was excellent, the crew were fantastic, the food was out of this world and they’d enjoyed one of their best vacations ever!”