“Smile and the world smiles with you.” It may be an overused quote, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. More importantly, it’s a truth captains and owners can apply to their crew to keep guests onboard happy.
During a seminar in Antibes in April, sponsored by The Crew Report, guest speakers Alison Rentoul of The Crew Coach, Fabien Roche of International Yacht Collection and Rubert Connor of Luxury Yacht Group, talked about several problems facing captains and crew in the yachting industry including high turnover and building trust and relationships with those onboard. “If you don’t have great crew, you don’t have yachting,” Rentoul said, “and it all comes down to communication at the end of the day. If the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail!”
They talked about environments they described as “psychologically abusive” and maintained that collaboration and attending to the crew’s basic human needs with mutually beneficial relationships could be key to turning this around.
In addition to the importance of training, Roche advocated a slow, but progressive rise through the ranks over a quick climb to the top.
“The more time people spend climbing the ranks,” Roche said, “the better their people skills become. Using minimum sea time before moving up a rank can produce less experienced crew.”
Conner added, “Captains are generally very charismatic people, and have to grow from being great entertainers with superb concierge skills, to approachable people managers.”
One of the methods the panel suggested to build rapport and trust on board were team building activities, open lines of communication and group goals. Sometimes, though, it helps to give over the reigns to someone else. Groups such as Big Fish Adventures in Antibes, specialize in planning and executing fun, adrenaline-filled group excursions and events designed to break down barriers and diffuse tensions. Activities can include spa days, canyoning, sky diving, white water rafting and more.
“In addition to straightforward brilliant days out for crew,” said Sarah Diggle-Whitlock, owner of Big Fish Adventures, “we are often approached by troubled captains and heads of department who want a more structured team day.”
Whatever method or company you choose, the rewards of strengthening bonds between crewmembers are immeasurable.
For more information or to find additional programs and companies, visit www.yachting-pages.com
For information about Big Fish Adventures Antibes, visit www.bigfishadventures.co.uk