In an upcoming article for The Crew Report, which will be available in early 2018, I will explore the issues surrounding a yacht’s reputation. In my research, I came across a website entitled YachtRanking.com. “YachtRanking.com was built to gather data from crewmembers around the world about yachts that they have worked on,” says the website. “Our goal is to give you a reliable, unbiased source of information.” In an exclusive conversation with the team behind the site, I discovered why they felt crew and the wider industry needed this tool. Due to the fiercely secretive – and closed – nature of the yachting sector, those I spoke to wished to remain anonymous.
“YachtRanking.com was started by two crewmembers currently working in the industry,” they explained. “The idea came about last year during an Atlantic crossing; we were keeping watch and discussing issues we had noticed after years in yachting. What were some common features among the best yachts we had worked on – and the worst? Why was it often a struggle to find a good-fit yacht?” In such a small industry where crew jump between vessels, a reputation – either good or bad – can travel fast.
In such a small industry where crew jump between vessels, a reputation – either good or bad – can travel fast.
“We realised that crew (collectively) have all the answers, but no one had asked the right questions or taken the time to collect and organise the data,” said one of the website’s founders. They then decided to create the website, which sources its data from crew through a survey that takes less than 10 minutes. “All of our questions are designed to encourage respondents to think about their experience on board as objectively as possible, and respect the privacy norms of our industry. We don’t collect comments or ask for any personal information, and most of the questions can be skipped if necessary.”
The website asks crew to score each yacht out of five on a range of topics. Safety and security, management and leadership, crew happiness, salary and benefits, and food and accommodation are a few of the categories on which crew are surveyed. The full spectrum of variables means that the yacht’s ratings are not based on industry gossip or rumours, but provide a comprehensive look at the many aspects of the yacht in order to improve the individual vessels. “The first 21 questions of our survey focus on safety and leadership, and we hope that managers and senior crew will use the site to gather systematic, constructive feedback and track progress over time.”
“The first 21 questions of our survey focus on safety and leadership, and we hope that managers and senior crew will use the site to gather systematic, constructive feedback and track progress over time.”
The website has over 4,000 yachts on file for crew to rate, and includes information on the yacht’s specifications, which will gradually be filled as more crew submit the vessel’s details. With almost 3,500 superyachts (those over 30m) listed, the site represents a significant amount of yachts in the fleet.
This type of grassroots organisation is a method of giving crew a level of autonomy when deciding which yacht to take a role on. For the minds behind the site, their goals were threefold: “To provide clear, balanced information for crew to make informed decisions when joining a new yacht, to improve safety standards and transparency across the industry and to highlight the best of the best – after all, a rising tide lifts all yachts.”
Since the website was launched, what has the feedback been from the wider industry? “One captain expressed concern that crew are too inexperienced to fairly evaluate the vessel as a whole, or don’t understand ‘the way things are done onboard’,” the team revealed. This mentality, however, is gradually changing industry-wide. “We see communication standards shifting toward greater transparency, and hope that leadership will embrace a more inclusive approach; after all, shouldn’t all of your crew know what is happening on board and why?” In order to ensure a fair playing field, those who submit their ratings must connect their account through an existing social media account, which prevents crew from unfairly spamming one particular yacht, or vice versa. However, as with all internet sites, this can be difficult to avoid.
Although the site is anonymous, those submitting comments could be breaking a non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or confidentiality contracts. Similarly, if a problem is occurring on board, it would be more productive for crew to directly report it to those who can enact change, such as the captain or manager. As one of the founders explains, “We’re haven’t designed YachtRanking.com around the reporting of serious allegations – these should still be reported directly to the captain, management company, or flag administration. What the website does do is allow crew to indicate areas where the vessel is either excelling or needs improvement.” Therefore, it could be worthwhile for management companies and captains, in addition to potential crewmembers, to monitor the website.
“We’re haven’t designed YachtRanking.com around the reporting of serious allegations – these should still be reported directly to the captain, management company, or flag administration. What the website does do is allow crew to indicate areas where the vessel is either excelling or needs improvement.”
Inherently, the importance of happiness within a yachting role is, arguably, much more important than those found ashore. Not only are you working extensive hours each day, you are often far from home and living with your colleagues 24/7. Services and website, such as YachtRanking.com, offer a confidential place to share views in an industry that often doesn’t often value crew opinions and welfare enough. Although the website should not replace the relationship between crew, captains and the management company, as any ongoing problems should be reported through an established procedural route, it puts an element of control back into crew’s hands.
The team’s core objective, and the ethos behind YachtRanking.com, is to encourage the industry to address entrenched issues that influence the daily lives of the crew. If ongoing problems persist, the longevity and loyalty of crew will diminish and the entire industry will be affected. “We hope that being well-reviewed on the platform will be a source of pride for crew, management and owners,” the team concludes. “After all, who wouldn’t want to strive to be number one?”
The subject of individual yachts’ reputations, and much more, will be found within the next issue of The Crew Report. Want to receive the magazine on your yacht? Sign up to receive your copy by clicking here.