“There are many elements now which mean the owner may well never have anything to do with recruitment of the crew, especially as there are so many to be sourced to complete the team. He might only meet the captain quickly or might just be advised that the captain will be great,” explains Helen Warren, managing director of Dovaston Crew.
For Warren, it is in owners’ interests to get involved when it comes to picking the yacht’s captain. It does, of course, depend on the level of involvement the owner has with the yacht. If the owner is rarely on board and the yacht is used primarily for business purposes, perhaps leaving management or the PA to deal with recruitment is understandable. But for those who use their yacht regularly and even those who live on board – which, Warren adds, does make up a small pool of owners – involving yourself in recruitment can be hugely beneficial.
“Managers are brilliant and brokers are great as well, but sometimes it can turn into ‘Chinese Whispers’ where some of the information gets missed out or is misconstrued,” Warren explains. “What was foie gras suddenly becomes a cheese sandwich. It’s important to get clarity on the exact requirements and the desires of the owners when it comes to what they expect their boat to be to them.”
Warren relates a recent experience where there was still plenty of additional information about the owner to be sourced, even though a concise booklet had been created by the yacht's captain. “There were so many more notes and pointers to be made, but they can sometimes get quite easily overlooked. No one means to overlook them, but when talking to the owner directly the questions become quite tangible and they just lead on to the next quite easily.”
Getting your crew right from the very beginning is important. A bad experience could make an owner question his involvement in the yachting industry, while a good one, in all likelihood, won’t.
When it comes to a first owner and a new build, recruitment can be trickier. Dovaston Crew is in the process of addressing this via its crew profiling, whereby the agents look at the characteristics and attributes of specific crewmembers along with their qualifications and experience, and understand how they will work on the type of yacht in question. “It helps to guide everyone. Would you be best as a sole stewardess, a chief stewardess on a boat with 20 crew or a chief purser on a yacht with 70 crew? It’s just trying to get the most out of everybody without leaving it to guess work and the snippets of information you get over the phone,” explains Warren. “There is a little bit of convincing when it comes to the profiling and not everybody is going to want to sign up for it, but it is about advising owners that it is worthwhile because it could well prevent crew turnover in the long term.”