How many interior superyacht crew measure the dining table to make sure the chairs are placed an equal distance apart? How many measure the angle of the glasses on the table setting? What about the distance between the glasses on the table? How many teams practise walking into a room at the correct speed, in the correct order and, then, standing in the right place? It was this meticulous detail to which my eyes were opened when I attended a taster session of the Professional Yachting Association’s (PYA) GUEST Awareness Day at the Miele centre in The Netherlands, which included a variety of trainers – most notably, an ex-butler of the UK Royal Household.
A trainer and steward measure the table and setting
I’m going to be presumptuous and pre-empt a response I’ve heard many times over the past 12 months: every superyacht is different and service must be tailored to the owner’s needs. I agree completely, but surely the more knowledge we have, the more chance we have of meeting the owner’s needs.
There is another argument I’ve heard frequently, particularly from captains: owners aren’t complaining about the standard of service. However, I’m under the impression that some owners don’t expect enough of their crew; they’re perfectly happy but they’re not overwhelmed by the impeccable service they’ve received. It might be that they don’t want the same service they’d expect in a six-star hotel – coming on board their yacht they might want to feel removed from a heavily formal atmosphere. But this is for the owner to decide - not the crew, not the journalists and not the training schools. There will, of course, be some crew who know a less formal service is exactly what their owner wants, and if that is the case don’t change it. But for those who aren’t quite sure, why not try and give the owner even more?
The ex-butler of the Royal Household demonstrates the perfect ironing technique
And we have to remember it’s not just about the service. The introductory course teaches crew about housekeeping, including ironing, washing and using rollers (a laundry-room staple on more and more superyachts nowadays) to an extent I didn’t know existed, as well as teaching new crew about how to deal with those problematic charter guests – two things I think are especially relevant to people brand new to this industry.
I’m not going to suggest every interior crewmember signs up to the next available course – the industry needs to regain its trust in the training schools first.
It might be that all interior superyacht crew go to this detail. However, I have stepped aboard superyachts where this hasn’t been evident. A lot of complaints today surround too many training courses costing too much money, so, while I’m a strong advocate of GUEST, I’m not going to suggest every interior crewmember signs up to the next available course – the industry needs to regain its trust in the training schools first. But if we can remedy that, I think these courses are certainly worth considering. If you’re a chief stew, why not attend one of the courses and pass on what you’ve learned to your team? Or if you’re a captain, why not send your chief stew or just one member of the team?
Do you think we need to offer owners and guests higher levels of service, or are owners after a more relaxed atmosphere? Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.