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superyacht charter

For any yacht charter Captain, perfecting the guest meet and greet is paramount to maximise the success of the forthcoming cruise.

But if you’re a Captain who is used to working on private vessels for a long period, meeting strangers for the first time in a foreign environment will be unfamiliar territory.

When travelling to an airport to meet your owner, you might simply introduce yourself to any friends, exchange pleasantries, update them on the weather and itinerary, and most importantly, find out when they would like to eat.

Or, it presents the ideal opportunity to update them on the crew and yacht, the status of upgrades and improvements (being careful to save at least one pleasant surprise when they embark) and any personal matters they might need to be aware of.

When it comes to a yacht charter however, it’s likely you won’t know the guests, at least not as well as an owner, and first impressions are lasting, so you need to start off on the right foot.

Questions to ask before a superyacht charter

As you head to the meet and greet, you will already know the guests’ preferences, but you need to prepare for questions when they arrive.

You need to have done your research on the surrounding areas, the people, the culture, the history, the local attractions and, of course, the food.

You aren’t supposed to know everything so a simple ‘I’m not 100% sure, but I will certainly find out’ will suffice.

At the airport

I was once at the Execujet airport terminal in St Maarten waiting for yacht charter guests to arrive and witnessed a highly embarrassing situation involving a Captain and Chief Stew who had not done their homework. They allowed a party of guests to board their private transport vehicle before realising they weren’t actually their guests. I did feel for the guests at that moment, as they certainly deserved better.

To avoid such embarrassment, I strongly advise you to take a guest list with you to the airport, with pictures and a very brief description of who is who, so you can easily identify them on sight, and confidently reach out your hand to greet them.

Always remove sunglasses. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Captains greet their guests donning the latest designer model, mirrored sunglasses. I find it quite defensive and non-engaging. Direct eye contact with each individual guest exudes honesty and sincerity.

Some other tips:

As we set off, my first question will always be ‘how hungry are you/when would you like to eat next?’

Remember, the guests will most likely judge the Chef’s food on their first experience, so it’s vitally important they get it right, and it’s a Captain’s job to set them up for success.

The earlier you relay this information to the Chef, the better, and they will be incredibly grateful and stand a better chance of impressing the socks off the guests on day one.

Excite and engage

Giving a brief summary of the itinerary is sure to get the guests excited for their yacht charter.

On the journey to the yacht, I will update them on what we have planned based on their requests. Marina and restaurant reservations, excursions, trips and tours, and onboard activities such as spa treatment and watersports.

If there are children on the trips, I will run through the suitable activities and play equipment onboard, making sure to mention how well-trained and fun our crew are. This not only reassures the parents that their children are in safe hands, but also tells them we are a child-friendly yacht with an experienced crew who can entertain the children allowing the adult guests some free time.

I will then take the opportunity to ask whether any plans have changed since we last communicated, and whether there is anything additional the guests would like to do.

At the same time, I will update them on the weather forecast and advise them of Plan B should it impede any plans.

The weather and how we use it to our advantage is important. If the forecast is great, then we are off to the perfect start. If not, we have already relocated the yacht to a protected bay that has local cruising options so the guests can enjoy their first lunch in comfort, and explore the local area. This demonstrates how competent we are, how safety is a priority and how much we care about the guest’s comfort.

Monitoring weather and being proactive is good captaincy; letting the weather control the itinerary and expecting the guests to put up with it is unacceptable.

All aboard

On arrival at the yacht, I like to ensure that all crew are ready and waiting for the guests and introduce them by name – especially the Chief Stew who will essentially be responsible for their well-being for the duration of the charter.

I will then leave the guests in their capable hands to get settled in and freshened up before the Chief Officer takes them through the safety briefing while we prepare to depart for the first anchorage.

So, while the technical, operational and leadership skills of a Captain are important, the ability to host and manage a successful superyacht charter is also crucial, particularly in ensuring the profitability of a vessel.

The perfect start to a yacht charter

About the author

Simon Ladbrooke

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