Tips on Choosing a Yacht Charter Company for Your Vacation
So your friend Google has turned up at least ten charter yacht companies. They all have nice websites and seem to represent similar yachts. You’ve never done this before. So how do you know who is reputable? How do you decide who to book with? Having been in the business for over 30 years, we know that there are many excellent charter yacht companies. Even if you do not book with Ocean Getaways, we are committed to you booking with a reputable company that will give you 100% satisfaction.
Here’s some information and tips to guide you through the process.
- Book with an independent yacht charter broker: An independent charter yacht broker is a professional that assists you in finding the right yacht, crew, and destination for your best vacation ever. They have no affiliation, vested interest or incentive to book any particular yacht. They know the legalities. They protect your funds. Booking directly with a yacht owner is risky business – you have no way to verify that what they represent online is what you’ll get. Learn more about why you should book with a broker.
- All reputable brokers represent the same yachts at the same price: The yacht owner pays the charter broker’s fee. The yacht charter industry is set up with published rates that are the same for all brokers. If one broker gets a deal on a yacht, it is available to all brokers. That means that you are not shopping for price – you are shopping for service. Having said that, there are times that you might want to make an offer on a yacht – perhaps it’s a last minute booking or a long-term charter. A broker can advise you on the owner’s willingness to entertain an offer and present the offer on your behalf. Remember this is not typical on yachts, especially ones in the moderate price range.
- How much do they know about the yachts, the crews, and the destinations? Have they been on the yachts they are recommending to you? Do they know the crew? They should be able to offer you detailed information on the crews – not just their backgrounds but their personalities – what they are like to be with on charter. Have they sailed in the destinations they are recommending to you? Many charter brokers are avid “yachties” and may have been former crew themselves giving them invaluable insights into what is important for a ‘beyond the ordinary’ yacht charter
- Ask your broker what they do to keep current on yachts and crews? All reputable brokers attend annual charter yacht shows held throughout the world – Virgin Islands, Antigua, Genoa, Greece, Turkey, and Newport, Rhode Island. Ask them what shows they attended and when. What else do they do to keep current? For example, at Ocean Getaways, we specialize in group yacht charters, and we sail with these groups so we get to know the crews firsthand. Being in Florida with Ft. Lauderdale as the superyacht hub, we have numerous opportunities each month to view new charter yachts and crews. We are members (and leaders) of charter yacht broker associations where we share information with colleagues, comparing notes and client feedback.
- How available are they? Let’s face it. Sometimes you can’t even think about a vacation during normal working hours. Are they willing to talk or e-mail with you over the weekend or at 9:00 at night? How responsive are they? How quickly do they respond to your e-mails? The dedicated brokers that we know treat the job as 24/7 – not 9 to 5.
- How well do they listen to you? This is a customized vacation with everything tailored to your wishes. A seasoned yacht charter broker will ask you questions that you have not even thought about. And they will bring yacht features to your attention. For example, some catamarans have steps up to the berths so the guests will need to be agile. A motor yacht may have a steep and narrow staircase to the lower deck which may be difficult for someone who is overweight. The devil’s in the detail!
- How do they handle your funds? Are they on top of the legalities? Do they have a separate escrow account for handling client funds? Do they use standard industry contracts? When are funds disbursed to the yacht owners and who holds these funds in the meantime? The legalities of chartering, especially in the Mediterranean, can be challenging and require a knowledgeable broker who knows how to navigate the tax system.
- Check references: Ask for testimonials, speak to some of their clients, and check to see if they are members in good standing of reputable charter broker associations – CYBA, MYBA, and AYCA
- What else do they do besides book the yacht for you? Will they handle ground transfers? Recommend hotels? Help you with travel insurance? Arrange for a day at the spa? Help you ship in special wines? An excellent broker does more than just book a yacht.
- Are they pleasant and fun to work with? It’s a vacation, and the planning should be fun and carefree. You should feel comfortable asking 101 questions and making special requests.
No matter who you book with, your satisfaction is important to us. That is why Ocean Getaways has taken a leadership role in the yacht charter industry. Our President, Trish Cronan, is a founding member and Past President of CYBA – Charter Yacht Broker’s Association International. She has been actively involved in developing an online training course for new charter brokers and has written numerous articles on charter industry issues.
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