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Owner’s View: Best crew are expert local guides on, off the water

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Owner’s View: by Peter Herm

It is a given that a crew’s primary goal in life (OK, in their work life) is to make every boat guest’s experience incredible while on the boat.

However, I think it is just as important to ensure that the guests’ off-the-boat experiences are just as memorable.

I am sure most well-oiled charter yacht crews are on top of this already, but as a refresher, let me dig into some personal experiences with my crew in a new location last summer in the Adriatic.

Whoever runs the Croatian tourist promotion machine has done a great job with the yacht magazines over the years. It had been on my bucket list of places to cruise for years. Finally, last summer, the boat was there and it was my turn to go.

Normally, I travel to areas that are well covered in guide books, on the internet and in magazine articles, all of which I devour prior to visiting. However, Croatia has not yet generated the volumes of big boat cruiser reports and articles we might see on more popular destinations in the Med or the Caribbean.

This is a good thing for those of us who dislike crowds, but it made planning for this trip unlike my previous cruising. I had to rely on the crew’s rapidly developed “local knowledge” as they had not been there before either.

Prior to my arrival, we had sent friends and business associates to use the boat there. The reports coming back to me were highly complimentary. Wisely, prior to my guests’ arrival, the crew had spent an extraordinary amount of time researching and scoping out the potential cruising grounds, restaurants, bars, car services, activities, dive sites, and anchorages.

This was accomplished by talking with other crew on the docks, agents and locals both in and out of the bars. They also read all the guidebooks they could get their hands on in multiple languages. This multilingual crew (six languages between them) paid off again.

As is customary, prior to and after arrival, guests were “interviewed” as to what they might like to do, see and eat on their visit, both on and off the boat. Apparently, the crew’s research was effective as the guests unanimously reported once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And given that I don’t have a fancy boat (no hot tub, only two bars) I can proudly report that the happy guest outcomes were a function of my brilliant choice of destination and the crew’s foresight on doing extensive local research.

The crew also went out of their way to query each of the guests on the results of the crew’s recommendations. They even kept copious notes down to specific menu items at restaurants. The crew kept a log of all of the guests’ opinions on where they visited, what they enjoyed most and what they enjoyed least. When I showed up, I was the beneficiary of all of this research and actual user experience reports.

This summer, we are off to the northern parts of Croatia, which if only half as good as the southern half will still be a blast. I know my crew will have researched the places to go and see, right down to food as amazing as the tuna we had in the exquisite waterfront restaurant in Kotor, Montenegro, last summer.

Every crew’s goal must be to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the guests. To do so, they must become the expert local tour guide, not just on water, but also on land. The guests will appreciate the effort, and the benefit might just show up in that next pay envelope or more days off skiing in New Zealand next winter.

Bow west and high tide only.

Peter Herm is the pen name for a veteran yacht owner who is an entrepreneur based on the East Coast of the U.S. Comments are welcome below.

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