On Monday 9 February, 2015, the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) held an awareness day for its Guidelines for Unified Excellence in Service Training (GUEST), aimed specifically at charter brokers.

The day, sponsored by the Worldwide Yachting Association (MYBA), was put together to ensure charter brokers understand the value of having a properly trained interior crew on the front line of the yachting experience, and was borne out of one charter broker’s comments during the PYA Table Setting competition at last year’s Monaco Yacht Show: “I am witness to the shortfalls of much of the technical issues and attention to detail missing from experienced and veteran crew.”

“I confess I wasn’t sure if we were going to be met with people with their arms folded or if they were actually going to be supportive,” says Joey Meen, certification and training director at the PYA. “But good for the industry. It was brilliant to see the reaction and how positive they were with regards to not just the value of training, which everybody’s intelligent enough to understand, but what we’re trying to achieve through the GUEST programme as unified and recognised training that can be trusted through the industry as doing the right job for our sector.”

"I don’t believe you can separate the 'crew industry' from the industry."
- Sussie Kidd, senior charter broker, Camper & Nicholsons France

The day was a clear success. While numbers weren’t big (with 23 attendees in total – seven of which were charter brokers), feedback was positive, with everyone who filled out the feedback forms saying they would spread the word about the importance of the GUEST programme and setting a standard for interior training. In fact, Peter Vogel, managing director of Interior Yacht Services (IYS) has since been approached by two of the yacht managers at the event and has been requested to spend time with their respective fleets. “This is exactly what we were all trying to achieve,” Vogel tells The Superyacht Owner. “What’s happening a lot is that owners just don’t know better. They think, ‘This is it. I’ve never had better on a boat so I just have to accept it’. And that is not true.”

“I think we all came away thinking, ‘oh my God, I didn’t realise how much there was to delivering seven-star service’,” Fiona Maereso, president of MYBA and charter director at Northrop & Johnson, tells The Superyacht Owner. “I think we all came away absolutely amazed that so much goes on behind the scenes and we only see the net result. We only see the beautiful, seamless service and the terribly diplomatic people. Things happen as if by magic, but we understood that it’s not magic – it’s hard work and it’s a level of training and skill set that we simply were not aware of.”

The PYA GUEST awareness day took place on 9 February. Credit: Alison Rentoul, The Crew Coach

"I don’t believe you can separate the 'crew industry' from the industry," adds Sussie Kidd, senior charter broker at Camper & Nicholsons France. "We are all working in this industry together and any activities or training that widen the understanding of the demands, hardships and obligations of everyone’s roles can only improve communication and understanding between us all. Certainly as a charter broker I am very aware of the training levels and feel that there is a large and important gap that GUEST addresses."

Ken Burden, sales broker at Fraser Yachts, was the only sales in attendance. Does he think brokers know enough about the levels of expected training on board? “No and I think it would be very good for brokers to learn," he says. "Anything that benefits owners’ wellbeing and pleasure on board a yacht is simply a very big plus for us. Making them unique, knowing their whims and wishes can only benefit the industry and make them continue in yachting, and over the years I’ve seen too many owners leave yachting simply because of the crew.”

"It no doubt put charter brokers on the learning curve of how to better serve their clients."
 - Ken Burden, sales broker, Fraser Yachts

And while the day was focused towards charter brokers, there is a benefit for sales brokers too. “It no doubt put charter brokers on the learning curve of how to better serve their clients," adds Burden. "If a yacht is known by them for its service it can only enhance the experience, which in turn brings them back as charterers or, as is my interest, turns them into buyers.”

One aspect that was pointed out at the close of the awareness day was that all the training providers who came to offer their experience and expertise to the brokers – on a completely voluntary basis – are all competitors when it comes to their services. Which, in turn, mirrored the charter broker audience. “That’s one of the things that MYBA’s trying to promote: raising standards of excellence in the industry, irrespective of who you work for,” adds Maureso. “It just goes to show what you can do when you put your competitiveness behind you and you all pull together.”