You would think Delivering the Superyacht Experience to boating clients would be pretty straightforward: A client expresses interest in a yacht for a family vacation; the charter broker presents several options; and the client makes a selection.
According to Sheeder, matching a yacht to the client’s budget is just the starting point.
“While our clients are most interested in a yacht’s layout, amenities, and price, we dig deeper – into the yacht’s registration, the nationalities of the crew, and any governmental regulations and laws that might impact the success of the charter and comfort and respect of our clients.”
El Método Español
As an example, Sheeder mentioned the rules affecting yachts for hire in Spanish waters. “We’ve seen a significant increase in interest in Spain, particularly Balearic Islands yacht charter vacations,” says Sheeder. “Many yachts based in the South of France and Monaco are willing to deliver to the Balearics to accept theses charters. However, yachts not in possession of a Spanish charter license are at a significant disadvantage, and face restrictions as to where the charter can begin and end, and what nationalities are permitted in the crew. Something as simple as bringing on a Spanish resident to offer therapeutic massages to the charter guests could be a problem if the yacht is not licensed for charter in Spain.”
Other licensing and legality issues Sheeder and her staff monitor are:
Local regulations regarding the charter guests’ use of watertoys such as waverunners.
VAT implications of chartering in certain European Union countries.
Advance entry requirements prior to arrival in certain ports of call.
“Not understating these regulations and laws can result in a negative experience for the charterer and guests, and in some cases increase the overall cost of the charter by 10% or more – a significant sum considering many charters are priced in the €500,000 to €1,000,000 per week range.”
La Manière Française
Currently, Sheeder is monitoring the possible impact of French social security tax responsibilities on yacht crews. In March 2017, a decree was passed to require crewmembers and their non-French employers (the yacht owners) to make contributions to ENIM – the French mariners’ social security agency. Any yachts and crews spending more than 90 consecutive days in France or French waters are subject to the tax. The decree was suspended Sept 13, following a disastrous summer tourist season that saw France luxury yacht charter revenues plummet by 40%.
Sheeder is waiting to see if the decree is actually overturned in 2018, or if it will come back in a modified form. “These increased costs associated with crew wages end up being are passed on to the charterer, in the form of higher rates for yacht rentals,” says Sheeder. If the decree is reinstated, Sheeder plans to either offer her clients yachts with French crew, or to convince them to bypass French waters and charter elsewhere in the region.
Going The Extra Mile
Do affluent charter clients realize the level of detail involved in orchestrating a vacation on a superyacht? Sheeder chuckles at the question: “Probably not, but that’s fine with us. It’s like an attorney getting your traffic ticket dismissed in court. You don’t care how he or she does it – as long as you don’t have to pay the ticket! It’s a similar scenario for us – we obsess over the small details in order to deliver a memorable vacation experience to our clients. A pat on the back is nice, but a satisfied charterer who becomes a repeat customer is even better!”