“Over the past four years of chartering a 65m we have seen everything from four per cent for a tough two-week charter in the Caribbean to 20 per cent for an easy 10 days in the Med,” the captain of a 65m motoryacht tells me. But whether you’re looking at four per cent or 20 per cent, a crew gratuity at the end of a charter is not only customary – as if often stated in charter contracts – but expected.
This already establishes a set of potentially controversial questions: who receives the gratuity – the captain or the individual crewmembers? Is the gratuity shared equally between the whole crew? Is the gratuity enough and worthy of the service provided? How should this extra cash be spent?
“My policy has always been to divide tip equally between all crew. This helps to incentivise the junior crew, whereas the senior crew are better paid and the tip has less of an impact for them,” explains the captain of the 65m motoryacht.
"From a captain’s point of view it can be really frustrating trying to keep your crew motivated and on the ball if they don’t get the amount they expect."
But what happens if a crew gets no tip? Or a sum the crew deems insufficient? In a culture where crew gratuities are presumed, there can be significant repercussions when that presumption is not met. “I do see the idea of being rewarded after a good charter,” Captain Allan Skanderup Nielsen of 124m Katara tells me. “Not everybody is happy about that, and about crew having 48 hours to blow all their money on a pair of Gucci sunglasses and a Louis Vuitton bag and get a magnum on the beach and pretend they’re billionaires, and then it’s all gone again. That’s all good fun and games, but when you turn it around and you see this detrimental effect it has on crew if they don’t get what they expect, from a captain’s point of view it can be a really frustrating factor, trying to keep your crew motivated and on the ball if they don’t get the amount they expect.”
The charter market is always looking at innovative ways to improve its offering and, with that, the service on board. But with crew tips as expected as a swarm of dockwalkers in Antibes during the spring, is it time we begin looking at new ways of incentivising crew to perform better during a charter, aside from (or as well as) the typical wad of cash?
Find the full article, where Lulu Trask looks at new ways we can incentivise crew, in issue 73 of The Crew Report – download now.