The Role of the Broker in the Crewed-Yacht Experience

The charter-yacht industry is vastly more coherent and reliable than it was even 15 years ago. Boats are run more professionally, brokers are more knowledgeable, and communication between the two ends of the business is light years better.

In a typical booking sequence, a prospective charterer will contact a broker to express his or her interest in taking a charter vacation. The broker will elicit such information as preferred dates, preferred location, and the number in the party as well as other details that might assist in selecting a range of boats from the many out there. After choosing several from a list of possible boats, the broker will check each one’s availability through its clearinghouse, a company that provides numerous services but especially manages the boat’s calendar. The broker will then go back to the client with that information.

Good brokers make it their business to get to know boats and their crews intimately, and they back up their own impressions with feedback from clients. Using this knowledge, they make recommendations about which boats and crew might be most compatible with the charter party.

Once the charterer has made a decision and paid a deposit, the broker books the boat and follows up with paperwork, which will include a preference list on which the charterer can spell out special wants and needs, from diet to entertainment to itinerary. The clearinghouse will inform the boat of proceedings and receive input back concerning the logistics of pick-up and drop-off dates and locations. Finally, a couple of weeks to a month before the charter, the boat’s captain will normally contact the charterer to verify that the boat will rendezvous on the appointed day as well as to discuss any item that needs clarification or special treatment.Both the boats, through their associations, such as the Virgin Islands Charter-yacht League and the Charter Yacht Society of the B.V.I., and the brokers through theirs, the American Yacht Charter Association and the Charter Yacht Brokers Association, have worked together over the years to streamline and clarify every step in the process. Among the benefits are standardized contracts and other paper instruments that are easier to understand by all parties as well as more stringent self-policing of the industry at all levels.

Boat owners usually set their charter rates after consulting both with their clearinghouse and with brokers who have served them well in the past. The rates quoted to clients are inclusive of broker commissions, and clients won’t save money by switching brokers or attempting to circumvent a broker. The broker is an important link in the communications chain, performing tasks that the boat captains are too distant and preoccupied to do. Prospective charterers should set out to find a broker with whom they can strike up a rapport and who delivers the service expected in a professional, timely, and courteous manner.