A colleague of mine recently forwarded an article to me called The Ridiculous Requests of Superyacht Owners, which was originally published on the Boss Hunting website. I have to admit that as soon as I saw the title of the article my initial impression was ‘here we go again - some utter dross has been published that makes all superyacht owners and charter guests look out of touch and inhumane’. I was well prepared to hate it, pass judgement and sully the author’s good name for having such a narrowminded approach to superyacht reportage. But I was wrong.
I am happy to report that, after having read the article, I enjoyed it because of one particularly important factor – the author echoes a viewpoint that many outside the industry choose to ignore. The author qualifies that not all owners are nightmares and that, in fact, ridiculous requests are the purview of the minority of douche bags that are not limited to yachting, but actually exist in all walks of life.
On the occasions that I meet new (non-industry) people and inane small talk ensues, I often find myself explaining that I work in the superyacht industry. One of the first comments to follow is frequently along the lines of ‘I read an article about all the awful things that superyacht owners do’. I tend to follow this up by looking around the pub (I’m usually meeting new people in pubs) and saying something to the effect of “how many annoying and rude people do you think there are in this whole place?”.
Provided the person is being realistic, they ordinarily concede that there are probably quite a few. The point, which the author of The Ridiculous Requests of Superyacht Owners correctly picks up on, is that there are idiots in all walks of life no matter their social status. One of the most ridiculous requests included in the article refers to a woman that was obsessed with strawberries, but who refused to eat them until all the seeds had been removed with tweezers. This, to be fair, is pretty ridiculous.
Indeed, the author leans on the wisdom of an old boss of his from a charter company who said the following: “Sure we have to deal with wankers. But there are wankers everywhere. No matter what line of work you’re in you’ll have to deal with them. Ours just happen to be really rich.”
I think, however, there is another important lesson to learn from these ridiculous stories. We must be able to poke fun at the industry and laugh at how ridiculous some requests really are, rather than becoming defensive and allowing these ‘one in a million’ stories to tarnish the reputation of the whole industry. Yes, the request to remove the pips from a strawberry is borderline unhinged, but it’s also quite funny because of how utterly ridiculous it actually is! No one likes the person that can’t take a joke, and it’s the same in business. If the industry can’t laugh at how ridiculous it actually is at times, then it just looks guilty.
One could argue that stories about ‘ridiculous’ owners and guests stand to underline the importance of the industry taking greater control of the market narrative. Where opportunity allows we should share such stories and allow ourselves to laugh when they are truly ridiculous, but we should equally be at pains to stress the great deal of good that superyacht owners and guests do around the world, as well as the economic benefit of the market itself. Let’s laugh when it’s appropriate and educate when it’s not.
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