Tipping the Scales

17 December 2009 By Louisa Cowan

Everyone in this industry knows that with every charter there is the possibility that a fairly large wad of cash could be coming your way at the end of the trip. However, this additional money has to be earned and often crew will go all-out to have the very best possible shot at getting a top-dollar tip!

From genuine icebergs to milk fresh from a cow, crew will go to all sorts of lengths to show they've gone that extra mile.

Sometimes thinking quickly on your feet will give you the upper-hand that you need in order to provide guests with that little something extra. Gabe was bosun on a busy charter yacht, he says, “On one charter we quickly learned that if the kids [were] happy, the parents [were] happy. We had a boat full of younger children who weren’t interested in the jet-skis and diving equipment and it was obvious [that] they were getting bored. We went out a bought a load of water-pistols and spent the whole week having one huge water fight! The kids loved it and both parents and children said they had the best week ever.”

Another way to prove you’re all for the guests is to put your training to use. Crewmember Matt had to use his skills to give his guests what they really wanted. He was enjoying a fairly laid back charter when the guests admitted to being complete Sex in the City addicts and they couldn’t find the channel to watch the next episode. The crew spent rest of the evening holding the boat in exactly the right position, using the stern thrusters, so that the satellite could pick up the signal and the guests could get their fix – talk about going beyond for a good tip.

Theme nights aren’t uncommon but making them extra special is the key to proving that you have pulled out all the stops. “I was once dispatched in the tender to scour the bay for the best piece of ice in Alaska for that evening’s table decoration,” says Matt.

Some guests strange requests may flounder crew, but in order to earn top tip, crew will practically bend over backwards to meet the weirdest of requests. Ben was flummoxed when he received a charter request form stating that the guests were very strict about their diet. They had a small baby and needed fresh, pure, unpasteurized cows milk for the baby’s bottle!

Ben says, “We were in Italy and the chef and I would go out every morning to find a friendly farmer who would milk his cow for us. We have done some pretty strange things to impress our charter guests before, but this topped the lot.”

He goes on to say, “We had one charter where the guests hadn’t asked for limoncello and it wasn’t until they were on board that they decided they loved the stuff. They were drinking it for breakfast, lunch and dinner so when supplies were running low the chief stew and I thought we could improvise. Using lemon, ice and vodka we mixed our very own ‘limoncello’ drinks which, according to the guests, were the best they had ever tasted!” A little bit of ingenuity can make or break a charter and if you pull it off well, crew can be handsomely rewarded.

“It’s all about offering a memorable experience,” says Donno. “We would heat up the swimming towels in the tumble dryer and the chief stew would organize these amazing plays for the kids where we would all have a part. The thing that impressed everyone was the DVD they would be sent away with at the end of their holiday. A compilation of the best bits of their trip; everyone loved it.” Making the charter experience something guests can hold onto for years to come is a way to ensure they will really appreciate all of the hard work you’ve done – hopefully with a few extra bucks.

It seems the easiest way to get that extra-big tip is to throw caution to the win, jump in feet first and be willing to do almost anything – anything legal that is – to give the guests the type of charter they want. After all, there is a good chance the rewards will be there at the end of the trip.