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.