While direct booking of a self-drive bareboat is common and the norm, the same cannot be said for renting a crewed yacht. Organizing vacations on crewed yachts, especially ultra-expensive superyacht charter vessels, requires the assistance of an intermediary since few owners have the time, patience, or interest in dealing directly with prospective charter customers. After all, few yacht owners became billionaires by chatting with strangers on the phone!
It’s hard to dispute the important role retail brokers play in arranging crewed private yacht charter vacations. Most have an extensive understanding of the industry, including the first-hand experience of inspecting charter yachts, interviewing the crews, and preparing charter agreements. A good broker is key to a successful and unforgettable superyacht experience.
Using a retail yacht charter broker, however, is not a guarantee of a great yachting vacation. There are many misconceptions – some promulgated by the brokers themselves. Exposing these fallacies can save headaches and money.et’s look at, and debunk, three common myths associated with the services of a retail charter broker:
MYTH #1: Every Broker will get you the Same Exact Price.
This is the most common misconception, and many brokers will quickly use this line to encourage a prospective client not to call other competitors. While it’s true there is a published “rack” rate available to all retail brokers, just like upscale resorts, villas, and jets, sometimes there are multiple pricing options.
Jana Sheeder, President of 1-800 Yacht Charters explains: “In situations where we have delivered multiple charters to a particular yacht owner, we are in a unique position to secure ‘best column pricing’ for our preferred clients – prices that other retails brokers cannot obtain.”
Sheeder goes on to explain how relationships and reputations also play a role in securing preferred pricing. “If you’re honest and respectful, over the years, you build relationships with captains and yacht managers. I can’t tell you how many times we have reached out to a captain to ask for a professional courtesy discount for one of our clients. The captains have the ear of the owner and often can encourage an owner who would normally not offer any discounts, to give our client a special rate.”
The bottom line – the best brokers can, on occasion, secure rates not available to other brokers. When considering the hiring of your charter broker, directly ask the broker if all brokers gets the same prices. If he or she says “Yes,” move on and find another broker!
MYTH #2: The Charter Broker’s Commission is Paid by the Yacht Owner, and not by the Charterer.
While it serves as a great marketing phrase for many brokers, saying “My advice to you is free,” it’s simply not true. Yes, the commission check received by the broker comes from the yacht owner’s account, but just as in real estate, the list prices have been adjusted to account for the fees earned by brokers.
Sheeder bristles at the notion of free advice. “Many brokers are quick to state their services are free, and you’ll see this marketing slogan prominently displayed on their websites. We have greater respect for our clients. While there is great value in the services we offer – nothing is free, and an educated consumer is aware that the prices offered by a yacht owner include the cost of the retail charter broker’s services.”
This is even more evident when booking a bareboat yacht charter, as bareboat companies take in direct reservations and will often give customers discounts of 10 to 15% – the amount they save if no charter broker is involved.
Sheeder feels complete transparency is the best course of action. “We tell our clients exactly how much our services cost in terms of a commission. We don’t apologize for what we earn, and we bend over backwards to deliver killer customer service. I believe our clients appreciate our confidence and our candor.”
Sample luxury yacht charter competitors’ promises to you:
“Our advice is free…”
“…provide you with free advice…”
“…THAT GIVES YOU FREE INDEPENDENT CHARTER ADVICE”
The bottom line – don’t fall for flashy marketing terms and buzzwords. Nothing is for free, and you, the buyer, are paying the cost of the charter reservation services rendered to you.
MYTH #3: Charter Brokers Offer Unbiased Advice.
Many brokers are employees of large yacht management companies. These companies, sometimes called “Central Agents,” handle crew placement, yacht sales, and charter management.
Sheeder explains how this multi-service model can lead to bias on the part of a retail broker: “A retail broker who is employed by a central agency is in a position to present a potential charterer with yachts that are managed in-house. Not only is a commission generated when an in-house managed yacht is booked for a charter, but an additional ‘management’ fee is earned by the central agency.”
In other words, a central agency makes more money when their own retail brokers book yachts in their own fleet. Those yachts are not necessarily the best choice for your customized charter.
The bottom line – To minimize bias, Sheeder recommends retaining an independent retail yacht charter broker. Similar to hiring an independent insurance agent who represents multiple product lines, an independent charter broker is more likely to present prospective clients with yacht selections from a multitude of Central Agency fleets.
Thinking about a private charter vacation? Speak to the industry team with more than 30 years’ experience. Call 1-800 Yacht Charters today at 1-800-922-4824 or 305-253-7245, or fill out our convenient online contact form here.