As Founder and President of South Florida-based yacht crewing agency, Lauren Cotton has spent years successfully recruiting for charter yachts and has also heard some true crewing horror stories. We caught up with her to find out why getting the right crew can really make or break a charter trip. If you’re wondering how you can make chartering your yacht a much smoother process, read on…
Let’s start off with one question everyone might be wondering – what is the ‘right crew’ when chartering your yacht?
People who are new-ish to the industry sometimes assume that the most important thing is skillset. Obviously, you need to have competent people onboard, and it is always a bonus if they have exclusive training or Michelin-star experience, but I always say that half skill and half personality is what makes a great crew member.
The most important traits to have are a willingness to learn and work hard, alongside a commitment to making guests smile. Other than that, the ‘right personality’ really depends on the boat. All yachts are different and there is not one personality type that works best for successful luxury yacht crew – some Captains pride themselves on offering guests quiet and refined interactions where others prefer a warm, informal service. The most important thing is making sure that the crew is the perfect match for that particular yacht.
Why does the right crew make such a big difference to the guests’ happiness on a charter – even more than on a private yacht?
Because there is such a short time to impress the guests! When you’re chartering your yacht, it is often only for a week or ten days, which is a really short time to build up a connection with whoever comes on board. You have a very limited opportunity to make it the guest’s best-ever vacation and to make them want to come back or recommend you.
A charter crew will have to switch on that charming personality pretty quick and keep their efforts at maximum energy the entire time. It’s different to a private vessel, where you might have a few weeks with the Owner to show them your best self. Hence why it’s so important to place the right crew on the right boat, as someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their surroundings is never going to be able to focus on making guests happy. There are so many yacht crew agencies around Fort Lauderdale – mine included! – that there is no excuse not to explore options to find your perfect crew.
How does a good yacht crew ensure they meet the guest’s requirements for charter every time?
A big part of this is communication with the charter broker, via the Captain, as the guests will have discussed their expectations at length with them. A good crew will make sure they really pay attention to any briefings, for example with regards to food preference or charter atmosphere, whereas a bad crew will ignore these and just do whatever they think is right!
Charter crew need to be very flexible, as guests – and therefore expectations – change from week to week. They also need to be able to all work together in harmony to make the charter a success, putting aside any personal differences. That’s another reason that the right crew makes such a difference – because by placing a bunch of likeminded people together, you are much less likely to have onboard drama.
Why does the right crew make the charter run smoother as a business?
Most Owners run boats as companies; they want to build up their yacht as a brand, a big part of which is getting repeat customers who will sing their praises and make them a lot of money. Getting the right crew on board is the only way to get those repeat customers, so spending a bit of money on crewing has a massive ROI when chartering your yacht. When you have a great crew who are all working well together they also make a lot of money on tips, so it is in everyone’s best interest.
What typically happens when you have an ill-fitting crew on a charter yacht?
You end up with a really bad vacation. And in the long run, people don’t book again and may recommend against you to friends. If the yacht crew are not qualified and the boat breaks down, then guests are stuck somewhere and don’t get the vacation they had dreamed of – not to mention spent a lot of money on. If the crew are all arguing, it’s going to be a weird vibe onboard. If the chef’s not living up to expectations then the guests will complain, creating even more tension onboard. And if the deckhands don’t know how to work some of the toys then guests will not be able to enjoy the promised amenities, which may have been a big factor in why they booked. So having an amiable, professional crew that knows the vessel inside out and is excited to interact with the guests, that makes all the difference.
And when you have a good one?
Those charter requests never stop coming, and you’ve got yourself a financially lucrative business that takes care of itself! Chartering your yacht becomes a pleasure rather than a slog when you know you have a dedicated onboard team you can rely on. And ultimately that’s what crewing agencies are all about – making life easier for Owners and Captains.
Thank you, Lauren – we wish you a great summer charter season!