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03.01.20

Hill Robinson’s charter manager, Romina Rastelli, describes the challenges of her job, and how she perseveres by reminding herself of the enjoyment clients derive from their charters.

The life of a yacht broker can be notoriously manic; managing multiple concurrent charters at the same time, whilst trying to maximise bookings and fleet utilisation is a daunting task, and not a job for the faint-hearted. Despite the trials and tribulations of the industry, Romina Rastelli is one of the individuals that has thrived in this high-pressure environment. Romina joined the yachting industry in 2001 and passed through many different departments of leading yachting companies: administration, accounts, yacht management and yacht brokerage. Today, Romina is the Charter Manager at Hill Robinson, a leading independent yacht management company, for whom she has worked since 2012.

“I enjoyed working as an administrative assistant for a yacht brokerage company so much that I decided to switch to the yacht management side.” Romina tells me, explaining her progression through the industry and her earnest passion for yacht management. Promoted to Charter Manager at Hill Robinson in 2016, Romina is enthusiastic when describing the progress the charter side of the business has made during her tenure, including the development that Hill Robinson is nurturing through retail charters at their Monaco office and expanding their team alongside this.

Referring to the sometimes chaotic lifestyle of a Charter Manager, Romina explains that her priority is to “Reply to all enquiries as soon as possible. Especially now that we’re getting into the season, there are a lot of last minute charters. Clients want a boat as soon as possible, so the earlier I reply to their enquiry, the better chance we have of booking a charter with them. Furthermore, we are trying to promote our vessels,
which means sending a lot of collateral and trying to contact the brokers, in addition to finding other ways to advertise. For example, we are developing Instagram and Facebook in an effort to find additional avenues through which to reach clients and promote the vessels.”

Hill Robinson manages 13 yachts for charter, all of which are based in different locations. “Our main job is to get bookings on our fleet yachts.” Romina explains, “Our goal is to maximise the calendars and get as many bookings as possible for the owners of the yachts.” This is a complex, worldwide juggling act, managing charters across Europe and the Caribbean: currently, Hill Robinson has one yacht positioned in The Bahamas, one in Norway and the others largely concentrated in the Mediterranean.

These locations speak for themselves, the Mediterranean remains the most popular charter destination. “Italy is very, very popular. The Amalfi coast, Sardinia and Sicily—these are the main destinations that our clients like to charter to. The South of France, unfortunately, is increasingly quiet. This is probably due to additional taxes and
maybe because people are looking for experiences other than those on the French Riviera.”

“As a Charter Manager, it is important for me to be on top of everything because laws and regulations are constantly changing. The biggest mistake, from our end, would be to organise a charter which doesn’t comply with current regulations. This involves not just a charter agreement, but also means dealing with all of the paperwork that goes with it. For example, in France you need a French licence and in Italy you need an Italian licence and so on. To secure successful charters it is really important that you pay the correct VAT!”

“We appreciate working with brokers from other companies sharing information and we try to be as accurate as possible. In general we have a very good relationship with brokers because we all work together to achieve the same goal: happy clients and happy crew! It is always better to work with people we trust and who are available to provide high quality service and assistance, and to be able to face issues together and support each other.”

Crews are often the key to an excellent charter, and can make the difference between a good charter and an exceptional one. According to Romina, it’s no different for Hill Robinson. “The crew is really important. At the end of each charter, we ask our guests for feedback, which often extensively features the crew. The chef is especially important! Guests need a great chef for them to be happy and satisfied; guests don’t always want to visit restaurants, so they eat onboard. And we want them to enjoy the boat as much as possible.”

Crews are often the key to an excellent charter, and can make the difference between a good charter and an exceptional one. According to Romina, it’s no different for Hill Robinson. “The crew is really important. At the end of each charter, we ask our guests for feedback, which often extensively features the crew. The chef is especially important! Guests need a great chef for them to be happy and satisfied; guests don’t always want to visit restaurants, so they eat onboard. And we want them to enjoy the boat as much as possible.”

Hill Robinson offers world-class cuisine, dedicated staff and plenty of fun—but what sets them apart from other charter and management companies? “I would say it’s our expertise. We try to be on top of everything. We don’t just manage bookings, but also everything onboard they yacht including dealing with crew and technical issues.”

For first-time yacht charter clients, it is often important to set and manage expectations. “While it is all about providing a top quality service in the utmost comfort, they need to be aware that it’s a yacht with many constraints, unlike a static hotel. And so there are many things to take into consideration, like the weather, for example. If a client wants to charter a boat in Sardinia, in the middle of the season, then they need to be aware that they might not be as mobile as they would wish due to local winds. Also, it is important that they fix an itinerary and understand that once set they cannot just go anywhere they wish, the boat must be able to work within an agreed itinerary.”

“Yacht chartering is a great industry” Romina concludes, “we get to sell dreams, and it’s important to keep that in mind. It is a stressful job in a stressful industry. But we should never forget that we are selling dream experiences!”

For further information please contact – charter@hillrobinson.com

30.12.19

Smooth operations. Marco Rossi, director of Hill Robinson Yacht Management, discusses the business of running a successful management company

I think the measure of success in our yacht management role is the outcome enjoyed by the client who demands a stress free, uninterrupted time while using his or her yacht. If anything, the owners of commercial vessels expect even more. For yacht managers to deliver this I believe that the manager needs to be highly knowledgeable in all aspects, fully trained in a wide set of disciplines - from managing people through all technical aspects, with detailed knowledge of a yacht's operation from refit to cruising, as well as knowing how to deal with crisis management across the globe. So a big task to get it right.

With more than 100 people dedicated to delivering a first-class service to our customers, my team, that's over forty now in our fleet management group, works as a single entity. As specialists in the Hill Robinson environment, we are not driven by sales or marketing pressure from above and, therefore, can concentrate on delivering yacht management solutions from a technically focussed team.

Another important factor supporting the successful delivery of our services is having well trained and motivated staff members with a common philosophy, company values and a caring attitude and enthusiasm. This makes it much easier to offer an exemplary service to the client. Good communication skills are paramount at Hill Robinson and I have solid, reliable support at all levels in the company.

Like all areas of commerce, the superyacht arena is changing as fast as new yachts start to take form at the designers' studios and shipyards. The new challenge is not just keeping pace with the technical aspects, but also being ahead of the curve. The dynamic of owners - and their world view - is changing  fast as younger ones build yachts with the latest technology, but at the same time embrace the environmental and social aspects we expect.

Meeting the challenges faced by our industry, today and in the future, requires access to specialist knowledge and experience in many technical areas - and crew aspects as well. For example, our special projects division in the Isle of Man has aviation expertise, including private jet pilots, among a host of highly technical specialists in everything from spares procurement to digital. Therefore, there is always an important resource of knowledge available to take us that bit further.

We represent different age groups of owners, which makes us more aware of the direction and shape of the industry. It's very satisfying for us to know that when a yacht changes hands from an older owner to a much younger one, we are often retained as their chosen yacht management supplier because we are highly tuned to customer expectations.

As yacht managers, we need to engage with both clients and captains, and sometimes redirect their requirements by creating awareness of the 'moving parts' that make up operating a successful yacht.

I came to Hill Robinson from a commercial shipping background, having managed a considerable-sized fleet of research vessels operating 365 days a year without entering port. I had thought the yachting industry might be somewhat behind in yacht management but was pleasantly reassured when I saw how Hill Robinson operated and discovered their mindset was very similar to mine.

For example, we operate a crisis-management support service 24/7, with a dedicated operations room where we can monitor all time zones and, using our own software application, take effective control on a global basis. Dealing with major emergencies is just one aspect of yacht management that is often overlooked.

12.09.19

We'd love to see you at Monaco Yacht Show!

A bigger team and a more spacious stand welcome you to discover our ever growing list of services across the globe, designed to deliver the perfect yachting experience to owners with technical support and yacht management from charter to crew and much, much more.
Open from 11:00 – 19:30 our team will be pleased to welcome you at stand QH18, Quai de l’Hirondelle – opposite the Monaco Yacht Club.

 

Calling all crew!

Our HRcrew team from Antibes, Palma, Fort Lauderdale and Australia will be present at our Panorama office to meet and interview you. Overlooking the show, our crew hub is the perfect place to get away from the show and unwind with some healthy drinks and snacks.

Opening times: 25-27 September – 11:00-17:00
Block A, floor 12, Le Panorama, 57 rue Grimaldi.

 

Start discovering the Hill Robinson advantage with a meeting at the show.

Email us at marketing@hillrobinson.com and we can confirm an appointment.

04.07.19

15 years at Hill Robinson. Giles Hunt, head of technical department and deputy director

“I think I was the ninth person to join with Niall and Nick, who I already knew from previous positions in the superyacht community in Antibes. My background was perhaps not typical for the time, out of University, in my case with a Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering degree, I set off to the South of France tojoin the Riviera lifestyle working as an
engineer on superyachts. This was a great period, over 3 years on 3 yachts in the Med and Middle East. This is when I earned my practical engineering knowledge. The highlight of my yachting period was working as a Junior Engineer on the Blohm and Voss gas turbine driven motor yacht ECO.

Being a member of a superyacht crew can be intensely hard work whether in refit times or full operation mode. I have the utmost respect for the crews whom I now support having been there myself. I was passionate about the work though and it was the perfect learning curve which paved the way to my next career move when I left yachting and returned to the UK for two years to work with Naval Architect Nigel Gee & Associates in Southampton to work on some very exciting new yacht design projects.

Then in 2004 I joined Hill Robinson in the capacity of Fleet Manager ISM and as our managed fleet grew we added more people and set in place a formal Technical Department. The scope of the Hill Robinson customer offering grew into every corner of management and support for the owners, their yachts and their crew. A truly holistic approach. From every-day logistics, all things technical, project management of new builds and refits; procurement of spares, crew logistics; VSAT communications et al, our assigned managers find the devil in the detail and take the stress out of yacht ownership and operation.

Currently working in my Technical and Compliance team we have Yan Turner, Pino Di Mora, Yannis Zannos, Xavier Perrone and in ISM & Compliance, Michele Minns Perrone, Olivier Marien and Nicole Hammerton. This is a first class professional team with sleeves rolled up ready for the next challenge''

To read more, click here.

24.06.19

What makes a good project manager in 2019?

In reality, with the current complexity of works or refits coupled with the time constraints to get any yacht back into the water, the question is more likely, what makes a good project team. A singular interface will make communications run smoothly, but the support this conduit receives is vital for a project to run smoothly.

Historically a project manager was someone who had been to sea, had some boatbuilding experience and some business background, experience in engineering and naval architecture was useful, but generally this part was left to the shipyard to provide. Consequently this role was often given to or taken up by the yacht captain, as if they didn’t have enough on their plate already.

To ensure a time successful refit, decisions, negotiations and contactual arrangements should all be taken care of while the yacht is in use, under the auspices of a dedicated project manager, rather than an already busy captain. For ongoing protection it just makes more sense. At Hill Robinson, we firmly believe that, as contracts established at the beginning will dictate how the duration of the build will pan out, the project manager should be brought in at the very start of the project. The project manager will be the one who vets potential yards and suppliers to assess their capability and advise the owner on the potential price/risk ratio. Selecting the right yard for the work is probably the greatest of decisions made prior to the work commencing, for this will define the success of any project. Once it is started there is little chance of turning back.

To read more, click here.

Project management team

19.06.19

Hill Robinson sponsor successful Voiles d'Antibes 2019

Hill Robinson sponsors Les Voiles d'Antibes

Upholding the tradition of putting on such a joyous and good humoured regatta, once again the Voiles d’Antibes has seen one of the biggest gatherings of classic yachts in the Mediterranean. Had it not been for Hill Robinson stepping in as major sponsor, this years event may not have happened at all. But in challenging and variable conditions, with a huge swell causing one day’s racing to be cancelled completely, the fleet of around 75 yachts competed for the trophies, with Hallowe’en coming out on top of the big boats fleet, while Moonbeam of Fife picked up the Hill Robinson sponsored Teamwork Award.

A big thank you goes to the organisers, the President Jacques Grima, Maurice Carette, Thierry Piel, Brice Humbert and the director, Yann Joannon, for putting on a such a great event and even when the yachts were unable to get out, there was still lots of action shoreside. In the Voiles d'Antibes village in Port Vauban, there was plenty going on to entertain and many different types of musical events from salsa and soul, to rock and reggae happening throughout the period.

Having taken part on many occasions, the partners of Hill Robinson were very pleased to be able to support this illustrious regatta and will look forward to next years event, the 25th edition, which will take place from June 3 to June 7, 2020. Meanwhile we will get back to our business offering unparalleled services to our clientele worldwide to assist in running yachts safely and efficiently with much the same intent as the Voiles d’Antibes – To make the whole yachting experience more enjoyable.

18.03.19

Hill Robinson opens new office in La Spezia

Our new office in La Spezia, is opening up access to the Hill Robinson global project management skillbase in Italy and we are looking forward to working alongside some of the most illustrious names in Italian yachting. The Porto Lotti Marina office is on the doorstep of the Baglietto, Sanlorenzo, Fincantieri, Ferretti and Perini yards in La Spezia, it is also close to many other major Italian yards.

The new office has already been put to good use - with a technical training day seminar, with talks from Marine Nano Tech, Rolls Royce on hybrid and electric propulsion and the Atlas Group. Further presentations in the afternoon on IT technology by Pibiesse and medical assistance by Yacht Medical Supplies were rounded up by a talk on cyber security by Lloyds Register. The event was well attended by around 30 captains, crew and industry people.

Our experienced Senior Project Manager Pino di Mora will be pleased to support owners, captains and crew in his native Italy. The office will be offering all our technical services, compliance, yacht management and project management for new build and refit projects. Rosanna Capitani our business development specialist in Italy will be promoting other services, specifically crew placement, payroll management, charter and much more.

Porto Lotti itself, one of the Italy’s most exclusive marinas, with its own repair facility and highly qualified staff, is located in the centre of a very sheltered gulf next to the beautiful Lerici, and has been awarded the international Blue Flag label in recognition of its status as an outstanding marina. It is also immediately adjacent to the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes Porto Venere and the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, an area of breathtaking views, secluded beaches and beautiful anchorages.

Contact lovethesea@hillrobinson.com to find out more.

27.02.19

Travel just got easier with our new partners in travel

Hill Robinson has teamed up with specialist travel management company, Travel Cue, to offer our crews the best possible options on travel. A dedicated 24/7 team will be able to supply all fare types to suit any requirement, whether the lowest possible price for a fixed schedule, enhanced baggage allowance or 'Marine Fares', which specifically offer the greatest flexibility for mariners to get to the other side of the world, able to accommodate changing yacht schedules at short notice.

Nagender Chilkuri, MD of Travel Cue spoke enthusiastically about the partnership, "We are very pleased that we have made significant progress in bringing together the travel services seamlessly, early 2019 will see an extension of these services as a value add to all our customers. While this offering is built to serve our customers, we strongly believe that bringing the best of class, with an optimised group value still ensures that our customers have choice amongst the best."

Saving time and money

"This is yet another useful step forward for us, teaming up with Travel Cue, a multinational company with an in-depth knowledge of the yachting industry, means that coupled with our Hill Robinson’s HRcrew team, travel for crew members for joining, repatriation or just holiday flights or transfers couldn’t now be simpler or more cost effective." added Nick Hill.

Additionally to this, client and corporate travel needs can be provided with the same best possible fares for your schedule, including private jet charter, transfers or hotel stopovers if necessary. Operating from 13 countries in strategically placed offices spread around the globe, there is always a team member on hand and available.

07.01.19

Hill Robinson team building and Christmas party

14th of December 2018 was a productive and fun day for the Hill Robinson group at Le Meridien, Nice. Team building exercises were a great way of helping employees and new team members to get to know each other better, learning about each others ambitions and personalities and improving communication.

Team building was followed by a Christmas Party where everybody enjoyed good food, music and dancing.

26.11.18

Eternity refit showcased at FLIBS

Hill Robinson Superyacht Refit

Hill Robinson deliver success in the form of 65m 'Eternity'.

M/Y ETERNITY as debuted at FLIBS is the result of all-encompassing refit planning and positive collaboration between Captain Aldon Beukman and Hill Robinson.

Following an extensive visit in Hong Kong to assess the vessel’s condition in preparation for its relocation to Florida, it was realized that a major project was in the making in order to bring ETERNITY to a standard conducive to the caliber of guests she would be entertaining as part of the Baha Mar resort.

With a detailed scope of work and a sound budget confirmed, the refit period began shortly after arrival at Rybovich on March 17. With an initial period of 22 weeks, accurate scheduling and tremendous experience with scope of works and contractors was paramount to ensure that all works scheduled throughout the yacht were completed.

"The complex and challenging refit was in part achieved with the direct involvement and support of the captain and his phenomenal crew". Chris Wright

Achieving the Extraordinary

The worklist covered all technical aspects including major overhaul work to engines and rebuilds of the generators; rebuild of hydraulic appendages including cranes; and other key areas including a full interior redesign and AVIT upgrades of all entertainment and navigational systems. As noted by Hill Robinson Project Manager, Chris Wright, “This complex and challenging refit was in part achieved with the direct involvement and support by the captain and his phenomenal crew, but also by detailed planning and knowing the right vendors to call. As many projects have experience, you don’t know what you’re going to get until things are opened up, so being able to plan for the unexpected is vital.”

As ETERNITY operated in a purely private capacity before arriving in the US, this refit period also allowed HILL ROBINSON to conduct several technical assessments and an internal audit for Class and Flag compliance, resulting in the full commercial compliance with MCA Cook Islands Large Yacht Code and Lloyd’s Register. The vessel is ready for charter activities with unlimited capabilities.

As clearly demonstrated by the appearance at FLIBS, the refit was a fantastic success, demonstrating the impact that Hill Robinson can have when working with a yacht and its crew on significant projects, understanding that full time project management, planning and budget are imperative for a successful refit and client satisfaction.

Contact chris@hillrobinson.com to find out more.