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Raising Yacht Crew Standards with Luxury Hospitality

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The yachting industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As we speak there are about 5,800 private yachts and this number is expected to grow to around 6,100 by the year 2020. This means the demand for qualified crew will increase too.

Until recently, experience and education weren't the most important skills recruiters where looking for, but this is rapidly changing as superyacht owners expect higher end service.

Interior managers and chief steward/esses play a vital and fundamental role as the front line to owners and guests, ensuring top level service and hospitality are enjoyed by all onboard. To take service quality to the next level, Luxury Hospitality Academy (LHA) offers training courses to yacht crew, presenting the tools and guidance that the shipboard management needs to successfully manage themselves, their teams and the relations with other departments.

To this end, one of the courses that LHA offers is Leadership & Management training.

Leadership & Management Training 

One of our Leadership & Management courses took place last March, for the first time at Luxury Hospitality Academy's magnificent new training facility at The Waterland Estate in Velsen, in the Netherlands. Waterland Estate breathes service and hospitality, it’s got status and charisma. The venue lends itself perfectly to teaching and training all aspects of the yachting industry, from housekeeping to beverage management, presenting the perfect dining table to event management.

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The founders of LHA, Peter Vogel and Henk Akse, are incredibly proud of their new training location. “A magnificent location such as this has an inspiring effect. Not only for the participants but also for the trainers,” says Henk Akse, Chairman of the Board.

Peter Vogel, CEO and Principal Trainer confirms, “When the participants arrive here for training, you can sense the energy bubbles up. They want to get started immediately, but at the same time the course is also a welcome break from a busy lifestyle. Because the Estate also provides high end accommodation, it feels like an opulent home. This contributes positively to the learning process; we experienced this during our first course at the Estate.”

Reflection and  Self Assessment

The Leadership & Management course takes five days. The first day is all about understanding yourself, providing a reflection for each participant and confronting each student with their talents and their flaws. “After we figure that out, we can focus on the remainder of the participant's team,” Peter Vogel explains.

The next days the training focuses on being able to create the dream team onboard the vessel. To be able to do that, it is important that the managers can see the character traits and see which characteristics are needed in the team. The focus will be on teambuilding and communication.

“After having learned different types of leadership and how they have an effect on individuals and teams, our participants should be able to create their dream team. We create lots of lightbulb moments for everyone.” Peter laughs, adding “To provide effective leadership as a manager you should be able to create enthusiasm with your staff. We provide our participants with the tools to do just that.”

Participant Emanuella (36), head-housekeeping, confirms that’s exactly what the course does. “They give you realistic tools to work with. As a manager, it’s expected that you can create a good working team. At the Leadership & Management course they teach you to look at someone’s profile, assess their talents (strengths) and  their flaws (challenges), and how I can fit that into my new team."

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Organizing an Event

After learning about yourself as a leader and being able to create the perfect team, it's time for some action. In the industry, it's always necessary to renew and refresh - at all levels - to keep the owner satisfied and challenged. So as a manager onboard a yacht, a creative mind is a very important possession. To bring your creativity to a higher level and to obtain the maximum results LHA is in partnership with Asaro Event Management, Spirit of Discovery.

Asaro specializes in creating new and truly unique events. They create theme-games and interactive theatre on location and preparation for their customized events can take several months. Asaro hires actors, designs costumes and creates a storyline that lasts for the entire time a yacht is in a specific location.

On this occasion, during the fourth day of the Leadership & Management training, participants are being asked to create a one day event, with Waterland Estate as a fictitous location. For the storyline, the Estate is located adjacent to a gorgeous marina. George and Kirsty, the founders of Asaro, are invited by LHA to guide the two teams, help them find their creativity and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.

The students spend the entire day organizing the best, most original and surprising event they can think of. They go through the processes, discover where their creative powers are and take leadership when their teams are in need of it. At the end of the day both teams present their event to their peers, George and Kirsty and the trainers of LHA.

Understanding the Creative Process

“This assignment digs into the creativity that resides inside you. It also teaches you how the process of creating and organizing an event like this works. It helps you to understand all third parties involved." says student Yavor, an owner’s representative.

Sladana Semunosvic added, “I never knew where to begin when asked to organize an event of this magnitude. Today they gave me the tools so I do know where to begin. It boosted my self-confidence.”

“We added this element to the course curriculum to teach the participants a systematic approach to event production and management.” explains Peter Vogel.

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Overall the participants of the Leadership & Management training at Waterland Estate are very enthusiastic. Chloë (30), Chief Stewardess, has invested in the Leadership & Management Training at LHA of her own accord, saying,

“I want to bring my service abilities to a higher level so I can work on bigger yachts. The good part about this training is you’ll be spending time with people with the same job descriptions and similar career goals. You get a lot of feedback, so you’ll learn a lot from the trainers and your peers. This is boosting your self-confidence. Onboard a ship, a management job is kind of lonely. I’m very happy that finally there are some high-quality training options for interior crew. LHA helps to make the business more and more professional and that’s a good thing!”

Building the Perfect Team

Caroline (50), Chief Stewardess, stopped working in the industry about nine years ago to try and build a stable land life. “But the sea kept calling. Onboard life is addictive. But a lot has changed over the past few years. To bring myself up to speed, I thought it would be smart to take the course with Peter Vogel, the most reputable name in the industry. Despite of all my experience, a new world has opened up in my life because of this course. I work on a small yacht, that means I have to know everything that’s going on.

At this training, you’ll learn about all the departments. That’s exactly what I needed.” The course material also appears to work very well when put to the test in real life scenarios. A chief stewardess of a 100m+ yacht and an interior manager who took the course in 2015 are very happy they participated. Taking part boosted the self-confidence of chief stewardess Danella, SY Black Pearl who comments,

“It’s always good to develop yourself and further your skills. And while there are several courses we can do for wine, cocktails, service and flowers for example, there really hasn't been the support to develop good leaders. Managing a team in this environment, and all coming from different cultures and backgrounds, can be extremely challenging at times. One aspect that’s very important during the training is learning how to interpret the different characters in your team and how to make this work for you. Finding the balance between all these different personalities, individual strengths, and cultures allows you to create the perfect team for your owner.”


Raising the Bar Further

The Chief Stewardess says she is very happy about the possibility for crew to get this type of training and encourages it. “For the rest of the crew to understand how this particular program works is extremely beneficial. They can start to make sense of why you may choose to do things a certain way and gain a new respect for other decisions they normally wouldn't understand.”

“Progression is key, and this is where you can start to lose crew if they feel as though they aren’t learning or developing the right skills to help them progress in their career. his way eEverybody wins; you as a participant (develop yourself), your team (better teamwork), your superiors (less work-related problems) and the owner, who can have the perfect working team running their yacht.” 

Interior manager Stig Spiessens (28), SY A, participated in 2015 and remembers, “After this course you’ll be able to select the right crew to complement your team. If you have three creative people already, you must look for someone who can execute their ideas. I think it’s a really big step forward that Luxury Hospitality Academy is creating more and more training for crew."

Stig concludes, "It’s a young industry which is developing really fast. To keep up and be able to provide enough well trained crew, we are going to need these courses!” 

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