The Ultimate Guide to Yachting Etiquette: Yacht Show Edition
By Georgia Tindale
When it comes to surviving and thriving the quirks of the yachting industry, there are some unwritten rules which you need to follow. Here, we speak to Andrew Roch, Founder and CEO of the Crew Academy, to learn his top ‘dos’ and ‘don’t’s for staying afloat within this unusual and extraordinary industry.
First off, there is a lot of drinking and alcohol around yachting, and yacht shows in particular! How should I manage to have a good time and still remain professional?
This is a key point: how you are perceived at these shows is totally dependent on how you behave. So if you are at Stars'N'Bars, drinking and dancing all night long and still get up in the morning, present well and perform at the optimum level, then you’ve done really well. But if you can’t – then don’t go out. Go to bed early so that you are ready to get up early and present yourself. This is the one show of the year where everyone is on show.
What are some top ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for behaving around guests?
There are a few things that are very basic (but important) to get right. Be polite, introduce yourself and present yourself well to all guests. It is also important to find the right degree of presence around the guests – to be present when they need you but also avoid being too present or overly pushy. As with any other job, you also need to stay discreet about your personal issues. Making a distinction between your personal and professional life is vital, as it can be really easy to forget yourself when you are around guests with whom you get on really well.
Should I try and learn the native language of my owner?
There is a level of courtesy to follow – it is worth learning a few words here and there (‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’ in French and so on), but you should never demean an owner by assuming that you can speak their language. Besides, often they don’t want you to speak their language because they’re talking about business and personal things which they want to keep private. In some cases, if you’ve learnt some Italian, for example, you might ask if you can practice a few words with them, and they might well love it! But there are also some important limitations – it is a no-go area in certain cultures: if your owner is Chinese, Japanese, Eastern European or from the Middle East: forget it! Don’t even try.
How is best to manage boat tours with brokers?
The most important thing to remember on boat tours is that the broker is always right. Whatever the broker wants, the broker gets, because at the end of the day, it is their show, and you are there to help them put the boat across in the best possible way.
Preparation is absolutely vital: if a guest is coming around to view a boat, do your work beforehand. Find out who they are, where they are coming from – their traditions, cultures and language, how many will be in the tour party, what their past charter history was: the list goes on.
Use any information you can glean from the broker, promotional company or Google, and then get the boat ready for the broker. Your research may well impress them if you put it across right!
People in the know often comment that owners are becoming younger. Does this mean the industry will become less formal over time and etiquette become less important?
It is no secret that buyers are half the age that they were 15 years ago. You’ve got 35-year-old buyers who are major players in their professional lives but just act more casually. This does not mean that they are not exquisitely turned out in beautiful shoes, and immaculate shirts, but they will still always look comfortable.
These younger owners want younger crew – they want more watersports, more fun, and so this can create a less formal atmosphere on board. But there is, of course, a line to be towed by any crew – you can be dressed in your shorts and polo shirt and helping guests with their water sports, but always treating them with courtesy, respect and etiquette.
In short, you need to know the line between being a friend, which you are not, and being an employee. If an owner is super casual with you, then you have to watch that line incredibly carefully because you can cross it at a moment’s notice if you are not careful – and you will feel it very clearly when you do.
Finally, give us your top practical tips for surviving boat shows
As I said before, always remember that you are on show at all times and will be circulating around so many different people at all times, so do not let your guard down and behave in a way you will regret later! Practical tips include: drinking lots of water, bringing decent shoes for lots of walking, wearing a hat in the sun and carrying an umbrella.
Those who carry an umbrella tend to attract very powerful people because you’ll probably be the only person there with one, so you can always be ready to look after a guest or a client if needed. Finally, if you’ve had a drink, don’t walk too close to the edge because there is nothing worse than being that one person at the show that falls into the water. And trust me, it does happen…
Fancy learning more about the weird and wonderful world of yachting? To find out more about the huge range of current yacht crew roles available, check out our Yotspot vacancies here.