The following is a wonderfully written article by Kim Kavin, one of the yachting industry’s most highly respected and trusted writers:
A preference sheet is just what it sounds like: a sheet that lists client preferences. Here’s why it is so important to fill them out properly.
Preference sheets are one of the most constantly complained-about items in the world of crewed yacht charter. Chefs complain that clients fail to fill them out completely, brokers complain that clients fail to fill them out at all, and captains complain that the standard forms themselves are sometimes inadequate for their very purpose.
Long days, short days, what to eat and where to go: preference sheets will help your charter crew give you what you want. Photo: Neil Rabinowitz (neilrabinowitz.com)
And they’re right to be upset. A preference sheet can make or break a yacht charter vacation. Wise clients will understand their purpose and answer their questions thoroughly.
A preference sheet is just what it sounds like: a sheet that lists client preferences. Brokers are supposed to send them to clients well in advance of every charter so the crew can determine what the client wants and prepare the yacht accordingly.
It sounds so simple and reasonable, but it happens maybe 50 percent of the time. All too often clients think the preference sheets are a waste of energy because they’ve never had to fill one out for other types of vacations. When they do take time to fill out the preference sheets, they often write things like, “Oh, I’ll eat anything,” when they are in fact vegan, gluten-free, and on a low-carb diet all at the same time.
This might be okay on a land vacation where provisions of all kinds are generally accessible, but it creates huge problems aboard crewed charter yachts; many provisions must be ordered and shipped to the yacht in advance. Have you ever tried to find gluten-free flour in the out-islands of the Bahamas? How about sugar-free snacks in the Galapagos Islands? A failure to fill out preference sheets can make it impossible for the crew to give you what you want. They can’t make a supermarket appear out of thin ocean air.
In addition, a preference sheet can help the crew prepare for the type of service that the client expects. Birthday or anniversary charters, for instance, often include parties that need decorations to be purchased in advance. Charters with young children can include special items such as youth life jackets and small-size water skis. Charters with elderly adults may require the crew to organize on-call services with shore-based doctors.
Preference sheets are the best way to let your crew know about any food preferences, allergies, or special diets. All of this is easily achieved with a detailed preference sheet that is completed in a timely manner—meaning at least a few weeks before the charter begins. While some charter brokers ask clients only about their food preferences, some captains have begun insisting on their own version of preference sheets that include details about all of the above. They go so far as to ask whether guests want early or late breakfasts, long or short cruising days, and more. They ask about favorite music and movies. They ask about favorite bedtime snacks. The idea is to become as familiar with the guests as possible before the charter even begins, and thus be able to provide the exact type of service that they want from the first few moments onboard.
No matter the type of preference sheet, yacht charter clients need to take it seriously. So much time is spent negotiating the charter contract that the preference sheet often falls by the wayside, but both documents need to be treated as priorities. It just plain makes sense to seek not only the best possible deal, but also the best possible service on a yacht charter vacation.
We look forward to assisting you with your next charter!
Churchill Yacht Partners provides mega yacht owners with superior charter management and marketing services.
Rikki Davis Yachts at Churchill Yacht Partners
Bahia Mar Yacht Center
801 Seabreeze Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316
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