Superyacht concierge: Extreme requests and how to handle them
Last updated: 07/02/2020
No two days are the same for a superyacht concierge service provider. Working around-the-clock for owners and yacht charterers who have very specific – and often expensive – demands, concierge companies never know what they’re going to be asked to do next.
The unpredictability is both a blessing and a curse. The beauty is that the job’s never boring, but dealing with the pressure of having to satisfy the weird, wonderful and extravagant requests of lavish superyacht owners and charterers can be a huge challenge.
Whether its sourcing 100 bottles of Evian water to be used to shower the owner’s baby or reserving a whole marine land for a two-person children’s birthday party (just ask Evolution Yacht Agents), concierge services in the superyacht industry is unlike any other.
We caught up with five of the Mediterranean’s leading concierge service providers to hear some of their stories and shine a light on the lengths they go to in order to successfully carry out client requests.
Extreme superyacht concierge service requests
Evolution Yacht Agents – dealing with indecisive clients
Based in Palma de Mallorca, Evolution Yacht Agents is a leading concierge service provider that operates throughout all the major Spanish ports. Given that Spain is such a popular yachting destination, attracting some of the biggest superyachts in the world, it’s fair to say Evolution has dealt with more than its fair share of unusual requests.
As well as the aforementioned bottles of Evian and the children’s birthday requests, Evolution has also been asked to:
- Get Mariachis on board at short notice to play ‘Happy Birthday’
- Take fresh yogurts for the owner from Barcelona to Turkey with one of its colleagues
- Shut down Palma Cathedral for a private tour
- Rent the whole Soller’s train for a private trip
- Rent helicopters in Puerto Banus to fly to Jerez de la Frontera to see the Spanish horses dancing
Guillermo García, head of marketing and communications at Evolution, recalled another notable request that highlights not only the difficulty of satisfying discerning superyacht clients, but also the speed at which they can change their mind.
“We received a request from a yacht owner for a parrot who could say ‘Happy Birthday’ in an ornate birdcage as a birthday present at an event in Mallorca,” he noted. “We found some options but then we were told it needed to be ‘Happy Birthday’ in Russian, so we needed to expand our search somewhat!
“We couldn’t find Russian-speaking but we could find French and English, which was acceptable. Finally, we found a high-pedigree bird in England that was available for sale. With all veterinary and medical certificates, we proceeded to arrange the exportation only to be told that the pedigree didn’t matter and neither did the medical certificates as the bird was probably only going to be given away to a zoo or something after the celebration!
“The owner then decided on a different gift and we were told not to proceed, which was quite a relief because who knows what would have happened to the poor bird!”
Urbina Yacht Services – working for VIP clients
Often, the most discerning clients are celebrities and Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals – particularly during glamorous showbiz events.
Working during the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, Urbina Yacht Services is an expert when it comes to satisfying extravagant demands. Whether it’s providing tickets to screenings or VIP access to the red carpet, Urbina Yacht Services can deliver.
Recalling one particularly memorable request, company founder Cinthia Urbina was given the mission of finding a villa suitable for a Hollywood star who wanted to host a party. The famous face was staying aboard a superyacht but required a ‘sumptuous’ villa for a party.
After initially having all her suggestions rebuffed, Urbina worked tirelessly to provide her client with new options. After a stressful search she identified the perfect villa… only to be told by the property’s manager that it wasn’t possible to rent it as the owners had recently spent €1.8m on redecorating.
Urbina explained that the star was able to find a different property via an alternative source and although she didn’t fulfill the request, the experience has stood her in good stead.
“The stress was at the highest level because I always want to give the best and to find what a client needs is very important to me. Even though I could not rent [the apartment], this experience is a great souvenir and I do not regret any of it.
“I am grateful, because thanks to this experience I could understand what a very VIP clientele is looking for. Since then I have had more requests for VIP clients but to me, none was more exciting than this one. Now, I am used to it and I am not as anxious and excited as I was when I had this request.”
Calum Yacht Services – adapting to a client’s needs
Calum Yacht Services, based in Ibiza, has experienced similarly tricky requests.
One of the most noteworthy involved a small dog that wasn’t toilet trained. The dog continuously looked for somewhere to wee when it was on board, and the captain and crew needed to find a solution as it ended up weeing on the deck.
Their first request to Calum Yacht Services was for artificial grass, which was swiftly provided. It didn’t have the desired effect, however, as the dog refused to use it.
This prompted a second request, which was for an even shorter type of artificial grass, which came equipped with a log of wood to better replicate the outdoors. Calum provided this, but again the dog refused to go anywhere near it.
A third request was then lodged for a metre-squared, ready-grown lawn roll and a plastic base with sand, soil and turf, topped with a cut-off log. Calum Yacht Services arranged it all, but, unfortunately for the owner, the dog still chose to ignore its new designated toilet area.
Ultimately it didn’t affect Calum Yacht Services as its team had delivered everything that was asked of them, but it underlines the distance that concierge companies go to in order to satisfy every whim of their clients.
Why are concierge companies so important to the superyacht industry?
The dedication and commitment of concierge professionals helps in the smooth running of a yacht’s entire operation. Acting quickly and decisively, their hard work can ensure that owners and charter guests have everything they need, whenever they need it.
The requests can be varied and fraught with difficulty but, day or night, they will go above and beyond to satisfy their clients’ requirements.
To a concierge service provider, there’s no such thing as ‘can’t’ – and that’s why they are such an integral part of the wider yachting world.