Working harmoniously with your yacht charter broker: Choosing a reputable charter company
Last updated: 13/07/2016
When booking your first yacht charter, the experience is much better when guided by the hand of a professional yacht charter broker who has the expertise required to make the process easier.
Yachting Pages spoke to yacht charter brokers to uncover the indicators of a reputatble brokerage company, and the steps to follow for a harmonious working relationship with your broker ending in a memorable charter experience.
Choosing the right yacht charter broker
If you have already selected a superyacht to charter through online research or recommendation, it may be that the vessel is only represented by a particular broker, so there is little choice to make in choosing a broker. Alternatively, it may be that one broker dominates the charter fleet in your chosen destination, and therefore offers the greatest choice. Either way, to ensure a harmonious working relationship (and a successful trip), it is important to follow your instincts about the service offered.
Dave Stanley and Dina Street, owners of Southern Cross Blue Cruising explained, “Finding the right broker for your yacht charter is paramount to ensuring that your cruising holiday is a memorable vacation for your group. But how do you select a broker who understands your needs well enough to suggest the right match of boat to client?
"A good charter broker will specialise in his or her niche market, whether that market be motor yachts, sailing yachts, mini-cruisers, riverboats or cruise ships. If a broker claims to be an expert in more than two of these categories, they might not have the expertise required to find the right fit for you.”
But how do find and recognise a reputable charter broker? Carlo Pettorosso, CEO of Flying Charter explained, “As you can imagine, most charter clients search for charter brokers and companies online. Of course a company that has a well finished website and a good social media presence means that the team behind it cares for its image and they’ll probably use the same accuracy in arranging the charter.
“In terms of service, it is definitely preferable to choose a company/broker with a well-established reputation and an older presence on the market. In this field experience matters! Younger brokers may look more flexible and open-minded but an experienced broker won’t be scared to take position against an unreasonable request in order to protect the client’s interest and guide him along realistic lines. An experienced broker will discourage unrealistic ideas, even at the cost of losing the charter, because he has a spotless reputation to protect and his specific role is to safeguard the client.
“If all else fails, choosing a company/broker that is member of an international yachting association will be a further guarantee, as these have strict behavioral guidelines; they monitor their members and yachts constantly and they don’t hesitate to expel anyone who doesn’t behave professionally or doesn’t meet the required industry standards. Moreover, they generally provide safe and effective contracts that will further protect the charterer’s interest. We strongly suggest the MYBA, the Worldwide Yachting Association.”
What makes a reputable charter broker?
Besides offering great customer reviews, the process of finding a reputable yacht charter broker is much like that of finding a reputable travel or estate agent. Dave and Dina of Southern Cross Blue Cruising explained, “A reputable broker will always be honest about any issues that a client should be aware of on their chosen yacht; for example, a motor-sailor might not be willing to put the sails up except under certain conditions; the chef may not be able to cater to the latest diet craze; or the crew might, by nature, be overly laid-back or quite distant.
“A charter broker should closely follow the yachts that they work with – this not only allows them to stay on top of the refits and repairs that have been recently undertaken, but to keep an eye on crew changes on board.”
They suggested that charter guests should always:
- Be wary of brokers who repeatedly try and talk them into a particular yacht that doesn’t actually fit their initially stated requirements.
- Be aware of those brokers that exude a particular virtue of any boat to try and create a fit – it could be that the broker has a vested interest in that boat and is trying his or her utmost to push it for as many clients as possible.
- Be aware of charter brokers who are not familiar with the cruising grounds their guests will be exploring – they should be aware of any visas which may be required for the ports, additional port and harbour fees, taxes and weather conditions that may be subject to fluctuation – or be easily able to find out. They should usually be able to advise on cultural/dress code considerations and limitations on availability of certain medications, food and drinks in some areas.
Dina said, “Ultimately, a reliable charter broker should not withhold any information that the client asks for that is relevant to a successful charter, including a copy of the yacht charter contract, crew profile, testimonials from past clients, a detailed, suggested itinerary and recent, up-to-date photographs of the yacht and crew.
“He or she should also be forthcoming about any language and cultural barriers that can arise by sharing the level of languages that are spoken by each crew member, the abilities of the chef, and what the smoking policy is.”
Valentina Guarino of Sea & Sea S.r.l. explained, “I believe the most important part of my job as a charter broker is that I am clear and explain everything that is important to know about the yacht, its crew and the suggested itinerary. This is especially true in destinations such as Southern Italy where ports are particularly expensive, and it is normally expected that guests tip workers here.
Working harmoniously with your yacht charter broker
It is true that an experienced charter broker should have the expertise and determination to ensure that the majority of wishes of each charter guest is met when chartering a luxury yacht or superyachts, but guests should understand that there are sometimes limitations that simply cannot be overcome.
Carlo Pettorosso, CEO of Flying Charter explained, “The main limitation that many charter guests should consider is that the maximum number of cruising guests for most charter yachts is 12 guests. They should also consider cruising times, as they often don’t realise how long it will take to sail from one port to another. It happens that they often ask for unrealistic itineraries, and as such, we always suggest to limit cruising hours to a maximum of four per day so that everything can be achieved.”