Are you inquiring with a broker or a leadgen site?
First positions of search are filled with websites that collect your data and sell them to highest bidder. Do you know who’s going to receive your data? Does the website have an about page with contact? Who is the company that will contact you? Do they have 3rd party reviews? Submit your data to the wrong site and you’ll suddenly start being bombarded by brokers of random quality who have purchased your contact data and are eager to get a return on their investment.
Not Vetting The Broker or Using 1st Party Reviews
There are websites with 230,000+ reviews. Others use non-verified sources that can be easily manipulated, such as Google reviews. A luxury yacht charter company will not have thousands of reviews per year, it will be tens or low hundreds at the maximum. It is always a good idea to check the company with Trustpilot. If the broker does not exist there, it might mean they have asked to be removed. In any case, broker reviews are becoming more important and few renowned companies are ignoring the trend.
Chartering a technically complex yacht with significant human factor rarely goes without a problem. Engine issues, electronics issues or human failings are not uncommon. Check the reviews – not the smooth ones – the trouble ones. A sign of a good broker is – “there were problems, all was solved to our satisfaction, we have had a great time.”
Inquiring because of a Yacht, not a Broker
The company that has the most yachts on the website can offer most yachts, right? Advertising yachts is subject to approval, which is often ignored by many lead generation websites. To actually see the calendars, you need access to industry databases like Yachtfolio. Most of the brokers that work with the lead generation websites don’t have that access, precisely because they don’t honor the industry rules. That leads to a situation where a renowned broker might not be allowed a boat that is not open for 3rd party websites – let’s say Vertigo, but has authorization to offer it to qualified client privately. On the contrary, inquiring with a leadgen website might mean that the broker who buys your contact does not have access to the boat and will claim that the boat is “not available,” and will offer you a boat from their limited offer.
Buying Tickets Before You Secure a Boat
Too often, a client has a fixed date of start and finish of the charter. It is understandable, as our time off is rarely very flexible. Nevertheless, even 1 day might mean the difference between picking the boat you really want and the boat that is left. The charter market is seller oriented- the offer is smaller than the demand. That’s why it’s always best to start planning your vacation early (9-24 months) and secure the boats before you purchase your flights to Greece.
Buying Tickets To Wrong Location
You might want to do a charter in Santorini, but you bought the tickets to Athens for the day the charter starts. The 150 miles from Athens to Santorini can cost up to $42,000 ($2 liter x 700l/hour x 15 hours x 2 ways = 42,000) for a motor yacht. Even if your broker advises a yacht with 200 liters/hour consumption, it’s a waste of your charter time. Options include flying in to Santorini and Mykonos (again, a broker with Yachtfolio access will have the yacht location on the date) or choosing a different charter location, like the Saronic Gulf – Spetses, Hydra.
Booking Too Late
It is common to book a land vacation 1 month before the actual dates. For yacht charters, best 20% of the yachts disappear 10+ months before the charter dates. For summer vacation, best 50% of yachts will be gone by March, 70% by June. Greece yacht charters are increasingly popular and in 2022, the majority of inquiries coming after May got asked – “Would you consider booking for 2023?.” Yachts that remain after June are hardly first picks. A good broker will have the Yachtfolio availability (the only up-to date dates, non public) and will look out for cancellations and reschedules. We’ve even been able to switch the dates of 2 clients whose availability reversed without charge.
Not Understanding the Advance Provisioning Allowace
An APA is an additional fee on top of the charter fee to accommodate for variable expenses – mostly gas, food and drinks. It ranges from 20% for sailboats to 40% for some motor yachts, depending on the individual boat. A common mistake is thinking the APA is unlimited. A guest would choose Athens – Santorini with lobsters and French wine, only to be asked to top up the APA the third day. A good broker should provide you a feedback on the APA based on the individual boat, itinerary and preferences, ideally advising on the yacht that has low actual (not declared) consumption, great wine available in Greece (local and international) and warn you from items on your preference sheet that might cost more than you’re comfortable with. A great example would be ordering luxury wines or specific types of fish that would have to be flown in fresh from other countries. It’s perfectly possible to order anything you need, just be aware that a cost of obtaining it might be different than what you’re used to.
Not Understanding Discounts
It is not uncommon with a land vacation to wait until last minute and get a 40% discount. Because the demand for yachts outstrips the offer, plus the owners will want to use their boat for a few weeks in the peak season, discounts work very differently for yachts. We mostly see discounts in shoulder season and they usually don’t go beyond 10%. Contrary to a vacation villa owner paying a mortgage, a yacht owner might consider a large discount offer an insult and even a signal of a troublesome charter. Ask an experienced charter broker about the possibilities for your price range and dates and trust them – there are yacht owners and central agents that are more flexible and there are times when you’re inquiring for the same peak dates with 2 others.
Choosing by images and ignoring broker references
20% of the worst boats will have 80% of the best pictures. Similar to a land vacation, images and shiny videos can be misleading. Try to look for a yacht walkthrough on youtube. We periodically do client videos for the most popular yachts in Greece as well as inspect them regularly. That’s why a broker who has been on the boat is more valuable than a 1000 images. Moreover, a yacht is not only the yacht itself. Is dealing with the central agent difficult (they have unexpectedly asked our client for a deposit after the contract was signed, previous charters had unresolved APA issues). Is the crew up to your standard (reading that the captain is fluent in English does not mean he’ll not be hiding away the whole charter because he’s terrified to talk to you). The most inquired Greek charter yachts and the best reviewed Greek charter yachts are not the same.
Choosing a Broker YOU Don’t Trust
There is a significant information asymmetry in Greek yacht charters, possibly greater than the asymmetry in real estate. Don’t be afraid to qualify your broker – do you have Yachtfolio access? Can you use MYBA contracts? What’s the last time you’ve been in Greece (if ever)? Where can I see your 3rd party reviews?
It’s very common to have CEOs and strong personality types to ignore this asymmetry – I see the yacht images, the proposed itinerary, the crew details, the price including APA, I know what I’m doing. Any yacht broker can make that sale – yes, here is the contract.
Then you arrive to the boat, the images have greatly exaggerated, the APA does not fit the itinerary. You are asked to pay up additional APA on the 2nd day of the charter, which ruins 2 days of your vacation as you need to arrange and oversee the transfer. The crew has been changed without advising you and after you come home, there is an additional request to pay more APA. The preference sheet you’ve sent was never forwarded to the boat crew, half the things on it are missing.