In an industry that exudes luxury, it’s no surprise that yacht owners and charter guests alike expect elite levels of service on board, but with service levels a matter of personal perception, it can often be difficult for yacht crew to meet the ever-changing expectations of the guests boarding their yachts.
A large part of any crew member’s job is to quickly determine and meet the expectations of their guests, but the addition of a yacht concierge service can help to ease the pressure of entertaining and provisioning demands, adding invaluable local knowledge and contacts to the crew’s suite of cards towards elite client service.
Yachting Pages spoke to Heather Grant of Erika’s Marine Services, an established yacht agent and concierge in the Grenadines, about the exclusive perks guests can enjoy by enlisting the help of a concierge, and the stresses and strains experienced by those working within the sector.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of enlisting the help of a yacht concierge such as Erika’s?
A concierge is a huge resource for any yacht – we have the connections, the local knowledge of markets and services, of local sights, of artists and musicians, that will make the yacht’s passage a delight for the guests and owners on board, providing a stress-free trip for those crew who serve them.
As the shore-based crew for any luxury yacht, whatever the captain, chef, purser and chief stewardess require for their guests, it is our mission to search the local markets to find the goods or arrange the services. Should the ship’s needs be more esoteric, a good concierge should also be able to source further afield. In our case, our remote location means we must use ferries, flights and private planes to get the job done.
What level of service can guests expect to receive from a concierge? What is, and is not, achievable?
With notice, most things are of course possible, but we ask crew and guests to be realistic about what is possible in this tiny country. We manage small miracles from time-to-time, but there are limits – even for Erika’s!
A principal service of a concierge however, has little to do with supply, advice, customs/immigration counsel or facilitation. That service is ‘discretion’ - your yacht, its plan, its guests and its needs are only shared with those who need to know to provide the service. We respect the privacy of our clients and shelter them from prying eyes.
We plan excursions, we arrange events and we can facilitate trips to exclusive destinations. We are a resource for the ship’s crew, adding excitement and ensuring that the charms of the destination are fully explored.
What would you say is Erika’s most popular service?
Restaurant and spa reservations and ground transportation arrangements are the services that are most frequently requested by our clients, but the most popular would be the hire of Jamesby, a private uninhabited island in the middle of the Tobago Cays Marine Park, which Erika’s rents exclusively.
Available for hire for a single day, or longer if needed, Jamesby is the ideal place to enjoy a barbecue, live music, deserted beaches, native wildlife and local cuisine. Swim with the turtles, snorkel, scuba dive, try kiteboarding and enjoy water toys in the privacy of your own azure waters. The best part for yacht crew is that Erika’s will organise everything. Just call and we will make all the arrangements – all guests have to do is turn up!
What trends do you currently see emerging in the concierge sector? How are client requests changing?
We find that more and more guests want complete privacy. Some are well-known people who do not want to be recognised or bothered by anyone when they are on vacation. This is understandable, and therefore we do everything we can to guarantee the solitude that they crave. Erika’s does not divulge the names of guests to anyone, except those who need to know.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job as a yacht concierge?
Short advance notice creates the most difficulties in our job. As we are located in a remote area, and traversing water is always involved due to the nature of our multi-islanded country, we usually need some lead time to source products and services.
Our remoteness can be a double-edged sword: It is the reason guests (and crew) love the Grenadines, but it can make our job difficult. As a yacht concierge, it is our job to overcome transportation issues in order to source the items that their guests request. We have developed relationships with many good suppliers and have set up transportation routes to get the job done.
And what do you most enjoy?
The best part of any yacht concierge’s job is knowing that the clients have enjoyed the results of their labours. We know that yacht crew bear the brunt if guests are unhappy, and we try very hard to make sure their lives are as easy as possible. Being perceived as the land-based crew for a yacht is our goal – trusted, reliable and responsible, and as committed to excellence as they are.
The best clients are those who give us the most comprehensive information about the guests, even down to food preferences, itinerary, length of time in the area, etc.
We had a complicated charter early last season with the charter broker having offered so many choices to the guests that there were several wildly divergent itineraries in place simultaneously. In spite of this confusion, the captain communicated beautifully, conferring with us several times each day and all went smoothly. We thrive on challenges and feel we have succeeded when all guests are happy.
For more information, visit Erika’s Marine Services.