Yacht Hop to It!

1 December 2011 By Lucie Ferrer

The winter charter season is upon us. With competition for bookings more fierce than ever, the impression you make during a boat show yacht hop has never counted for more. Impressing brokers and guests is imperative to bring in those lucrative charter bookings.

Yacht hoppers see dozens of yachts during the event and are bombarded with glossy brochures, cocktails and ass-kissing, which makes it difficult to ensure your offering stands out in both their memories. For brokers and veteran charterers, who think they’ve seen it all when it comes to yachting, it really takes something special to impress.

Prospective guests likely will ask their brokers’ opinions when deciding which yacht to book, so making a lasting impression on brokers (for all the right reasons) is an absolute must. A poorly executed event can be worse than not even trying — there is such a thing as bad publicity, especially within the yachting industry.

When it comes to standing out from the crowd, there are a number of factors to consider. The most successful boats in the hop are those of which the crew give 100 percent and get behind the theme to sell the charter by giving the “hoppee” an experience, rather than just another canapé and glass of fizz.

Imagine it’s you standing on the quay waiting to be impressed by an array of highly polished, hopeful yachts and crew vying for your attention and adoration — i.e. booking and big, fat tip. Which will you be drawn to? Which yacht is hosting the party to end all parties; the most outlandish, the most fun, the one to be seen on? Is it the one with the band and welcoming committee on the quay in front of the yacht, setting the stage with costumes, music and drinks on arrival or their shy neighbor with a couple of stews wandering about with olives on sticks? Yacht hops are about showing off; bring the party to the quay and set the tone before your guests’ pedicured tootsies even touch the tip of the passerelle. First impressions matter.

Consider your theme carefully. A Bahamian Junkanoo theme with rum punch, feathered head dresses and an interesting take on jerk chicken and rice and peas on the menu is one crew  really can get involved in. Or try a Greco-Roman theme with décor and food to match. Why not go for Maui wowies with a Hawaiian theme or bring on the booty with Pirates and strumpets? The theme will depend on the style of yacht and type of charter you hope to attract, but the most important thing is that the crew all get involved, enjoy themselves whilst entertaining the guests and creating an atmosphere on board that people will talk about want to be a part of in the future.

Get the captain in costume, too, have appropriate entertainers (or inappropriate ones if you’re brave enough) — if the budget allows, such as fire artists, magicians, mixologists or flare barmen.

Decorate the boat, get it lit up and get in costume and character — let there be doubt about the theme of your party.

Consider having give-away party bags, rather than brochures, which will get lost amongst all the others handed out. How about bringing on an artist to do caricatures of couples and groups who come aboard? Perhaps a doggie bag of late-night snacks from the chef or the ever popular photo booth. Give guests copies of their photos complete with the yacht's logo and contact details.

The key to yacht-hop success is that guests leave with an experience, not just a tour of yet another yacht. Have fun, go crazy and hop to it!