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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