Recently, I have been reading a lot more negative comments about superyacht guests across various social media platforms. The comments claim that the guests are formidable with their requests and at times unrealistic with their demands.
So, I was wondering what had changed in the past years. Has it always been this way, but little was known about the industry due to the lack of modern technology? Are the crew becoming less professional? Are they themselves becoming more demanding with their professional requirements? Or do they in fact have unrealistic ideas about working on board a superyacht? Or is it a combination of all four elements?
Excellence in guest service is of the utmost importance in the superyacht industry. So how can you go the extra mile for your guests and not grumble about it? And how can you boost your career at the same time? These four solutions can help mitigate the issues.
Communication is King
You simply can’t afford not to master the skill of communication. Finding the right tone with your guests will set the level of service for the charter ahead. And it’s not always about verbal communications. In my opinion, non-verbal communication is just as important.
You can't affort not to master the skill of communication. Finding the right tone with your guests will set the level of service for the charter ahead.
Do the guests step away when you talk? Do they make eye contact with you? Are you listening to them — and not just hearing their request? One of the best ways of forming any kind of relationship (whether it be personal or professional) is active listening. This is a way to fast-track your rapport with the guests, it helps build trust, and it shows empathy, humility, and concern — all necessary skills when you’re trying to excel in guest service.
All the above factors are relevant when you are building your career or going for a promotion. But one point that many yachties overlook is communicating their career goals. For instance, you may want to talk to your direct supervisor in a year about working your way up to the second stewardess position. Or perhaps you’ve written in your diary that in five years, you would like to retire from the industry with X amount in savings. My point here is that once it is communicated, the goal becomes real and you can work toward and achieve it.
A superyacht that’s truly striving to build a “world-class” service culture will make every effort to develop service standards that emphasize exceptional service for every guest. One of the key factors that separate good service from truly exceptional service is consistency. However, consistency does not mean that every guest should get the same service. True service excellence requires personalization and making each guest feel as though there is no one else at that moment that is more important than him or her.
Interior crew who can remember the guests’ names, who are eager to help, and who remember individual preferences are a huge asset to have in your team. Furthermore, the chief stewardess will do well to write down and train her crew on the guest’s preferences on board.
For example, let’s say the primary guest prefers black coffee followed by an Earl Grey tea in the morning before breakfast. Madam likes a lightweight blanket and a semi-firm pillow on her bed. The daughter always has a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice straight after a swim.
On a charter yacht, you won’t know the guests so well, which is why the guest preference sheet is so vital. Peruse these sheets well and write down their unique preferences as soon as possible.
Proactively answer guests’ inquiries. Yacht guests want a respite from their hectic life. They want a friendly reminder that your superyacht is a place where they can relax, be comfortable, and allow others to serve them. Should your guests have a problem, then they will want their concerns and problems acknowledged and validated. Therefore, it’s essential to your guests that their concerns are met with an appropriate response. Train your crew in the three-pronged response: acknowledge, empathize, and offer a resolution.
When it comes to boosting your career, proactivity means simply to be a team player. There is no room for “I” in a superyacht crew. Remember that you are as strong as your weakest crewmember so do things willingly that will benefit the team. If you see someone struggling with a task, just help them without expecting anything in return or grumbling about how tired you are. This helpfulness will not go unnoticed, and it will be repaid to you in time.
Focus and Discipline
This old chestnut goes without saying in relation to your work. When it comes to guest service, a simple trick I always used when I had unpleasant guests on board was to focus on each element of the job and do it to the best of my ability. That way, the elements of the job (no matter how menial) override the guests’ awful habits.
And to boost your career, always keep learning. Education provides a way to focus your attention and to stay on track with your career goals.
When it comes to boosting your career, proactivity means simply to be a team player. There is no room for “I” in a superyacht crew.
In the superyacht world, our customers are our guests, and the crew should strive to deliver an exceptional level of guest service — but it is their choice to do so or not. As Laurie McIntosh, someone I admire, once said: “You are serving a customer, not a life sentence. Learn how to enjoy your work.”
By focusing on the elements above, you will surpass the guests’ expectations while giving your career a big helping hand.
This column originally ran in the May 2020 issue of Dockwalk.