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Interior Training On Board

Sep 25th 15
By Hillary Hoffower

It’s the battle of land versus sea — while some stews are staunch supporters of professional interior training courses

they believe fill the lacking need for interior crew training, others strongly advocate the benefits of learning on the job, skills which they deem irreplaceable. 

  

“Tasks tend to be boat specific, and onboard training can be quite effective,” says a purser on a 70-meter motor yacht, who was a stewardess for eight years and trained both on board and ashore. “As a stew, you will benefit greatly by getting on one good boat that offers a good training program on board. Those are by far more effective in the long run.” 

  

Learning in a live environment certainly has its benefits, but so, too, does professional training. But, is one really more effective than the other when it comes to handling the demands of being interior crew? Or are both sides right? In this two-part series, we’ll take a look at interior training, both on board and ashore.  

  

According to a Dockwalk.com poll for stews, around 63 percent of respondents have conducted or participated in some form of crew interior training on board. 

  

“[We do] how-to tasks, week by week, for example, folding laundry properly or using starch correctly or practice making modern flower arrangements,” says the purser. 

  

Others prefer to train on all duties before the season starts, do hands-on interior cleaning or focus on fulfilling guest preferences or habits. For one chief stewardess though, it’s all about teamwork. 

  

“Teaching new members is how current crew can refresh and tune their own skills at the same time, and I prefer this to be done not by two, but [by] more people together,” says Chief Stewardess Valve Saarma. “As time progresses, more and more tasks can be delegated for one person to finish and no micromanaging will be needed, only motivation.” 

  

But should interior training be confined to what its name suggests? One of the biggest advantages of training on board that not enough yachts take advantage of, according to both Jason King, interior department head at International Crew Training, and our poll, in which less than half of respondents reported using this method, is cross-training. 

  

“When working on a yacht, you have so few resources available, so one of the things you do is cross-training,” says King, adding that it’s the interior’s mistake not to cross-train. “When you teach the deck guys the interior, or vice versa, when someone is sick or needs an extra pair of hands, you have the ability of doing it.” 

  

Cross-training is not only handy for filling in or for extra help, but for creating a more cohesive and understanding crew, which ultimately results in smoother operations. 

  

“A lot of time, there seems to be animosity between the interior crew and the deck because the interior thinks [the deck] chamois all day, and [the deck] thinks the interior crew just sit around and drink a cup of tea,” explains King. “I think that’s because we’re not doing enough cross-training to show how hard everyone works.” 

  

Touching again on the importance of teamwork, Saarma adds, “Everyone on board has some extra skills, and we all share them and take the time to make a training out of it. It’s great to delegate tasks and responsibilities accordingly to each person’s strongest side, but it is just as important to be able to do the jobs of a fellow crewmember, not only to be filling in for each other, but also to respect and appreciate the different jobs and understand how everyone’s input makes the whole come together.” 

  

King compares cross-training to tying a bowline knot — there are different ways of doing it to get the same result. 

  

“One hour a week, get all crew together [so] everyone learns a way of tying the knot,” he says. “Go to the galley, go to the engine room. Over a period of time, you learn more than just your own department, [and] the captain knows what everyone does.” 

  

You could also follow in the steps of the purser, who reports having interior/exterior swaps on her yacht, where deckhands make the beds and the stews wash down so “everyone has an understanding of what it takes to do the other’s job and are more willing to help out when it’s crunch time.” 

  

Devon T, who’s been a stewardess for four years, adds, “Deck skills [are] a must in almost any program that I’ve been a part of. [It] also doesn’t hurt to know your way around the galley.” 

  

No matter how you cross-train on your yacht, it’s sure to make your job more dynamic and interesting, as Chief Stewardess Anjuli Waybright calls her informal cross training experience.  

  

Waybright, who has been a stewardess for two years, sheds light on yet another benefit of training on board.  

  

“I constantly learn new tricks and tips from other crew coming through, and through online forums where information is shared,” she says. 

  

Thus, onboard training is always an evolving experience, where you not only learn as you move from boat to boat, but from others who come and go on your own yacht. Whether you’re cross training or grasping an understanding of tasks specific to a certain yacht, you’ll continue to add to your skill set.  

  

As one stewardess on a 118-foot yacht puts it, “I learned more working than a course will ever teach.”  



Tags: Essentials 



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3 Comments
  • Dockwalk was asked to post this on behalf of Peter Vogel, managing director at IYS:
    Training on-board is ultimate; it provides you with the ability to review the processes in place whilst inspiring your team members as you focus on specific areas.
    During my 15 years at sea, we planned 3 to 5 day in-house training sessions with regular intervals of 6 months, coinciding with the seasons. This provides the team the ability to really get involved with it and focus on nothing else then improving the already existing level by sharing their knowledge, skills and expertise with each other. We would “run” the yacht as per normal and the galley, housekeeping, service and laundry departments all got involved. We asked the other departments to participate as “guests” during meals these days, which was awesome for overall team building and lots of fun at the same time.
    On Cruise-ships or in the Hotel & Resort industry training is a constant process and the opportunity to train, as a complete crew/staff is not available due to the fact that there are always guests on-board. We as an industry should embrace the opportunity to train and develop ourselves and our teams into this oiled machine that provides nothing but the absolute best service.
    Whilst I ran the yachts from the Vulcan Maritime fleet, which included MY Octopus, MY Tatoosh & MY Meduse for many years, we emphasized on the fact that it was our responsibility to continue in-house training throughout the year. Besides regular on the job training by peers, we planned weekly / monthly training sessions and got selected peeps involved. Ensuring that the level of service was always on a constant high level.
    When training is taken serious and build in to the work rosters, training ensures motivated and professional interior crew who feel confident and remain with the yacht and the owner for a long time, something that is welcomed by Owners, Captains and Management companies.
    Posted by Hillary 05/10/2015 15:02:00

  • (continued from Peter Vogel, managing director at IYS)
    Since leaving the fleet 6 years ago, I have focussed on developing similar training programs for yachts and residences and have noticed a real change in the attitude from Interior Managers, Chief Stews, Pursers and Captains. It is super refreshing to see that everyone is aiming to be the best of the best in the industry and are not shy to reserve funds and schedule the time in between and leading up to seasons to professionally “re-fresh/fine-tune” their teams on-board. As an added benefit, when training is scheduled in partnership with a professional accredited training company like IYS – Interior Yacht Services, the participating crew receives PYA GUEST certification. This is based on the customised program that has been put together between the provider and the yacht. The certification is valuable in our industry and most importantly transferable out of our industry. For example, effectively learning about Bartending & Mixology or Barista is a transferable skill and stays with you for a life-time.
    Some yachts we are involved with even take it to the next level and have developed a professional HR Strategy, which includes professional and self-development as part of their employment package. I’ve witnessed our industry change slowly from a casual employment environment to a more corporate managed industry. Benefits like; increased retention of [key] crewmembers & the ability to attract high quality crew stands out whilst we shouldn't forget that an HRP enhances crew satisfaction, which in turn positively impacts owners satisfaction.
    Posted by Hillary 05/10/2015 15:00:24

  • .
    Posted by Lorandt 30/09/2015 00:57:20

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