As a boutique style charter yacht brokerage company, Where Land Meets Sea Yacht Charters has always steered away from “book now” buttons and I have even gone as far as to admonish and lecture colleagues when they have discussed an “app” for the charter yacht industry. In a world of digital and instant booking platforms such as: Airbnb, Expedia, Flipkey it may seem tempting to simply use the “book now” feature when you book a charter yacht. Afterall, it works great for private villas and condos, why wouldn’t it work the same for a yacht?
Crazy weather events, pandemics and global conflicts means yachts move constantly and sometimes without notice. Simply clicking “Book Now” on a boat, and paying with a credit card DOES NOT work the same as booking a hotel room in a static location that has a thousand different rooms available in a hotel. As 2023 continues prove you cannot control or predict life, I have decided to provide a list to help guide new charter yacht clients. Below are 5 reasons why you should avoid the tempting “INSTA CHARTER YACHT BOOK” buttons at all costs.
For those who have already booked with a accredited charter yacht broker (such as Wlms Yacht Charters), BRAVO-this article isn’t for you but should make you feel good about the decision you made!
- Reputable crewed charter yachts WILL NOT allow for the yacht to be advertised on a “Insta Book” platform. Proper crewed charter yachts don’t allow themselves to be featured on the popular “Book Now” platforms. This is due to the complexity of charter yachts positioning. Unlike a hotel-yachts move around. While their calendars are often available for public viewing, this does not mean a algorithm can accurately interrupt this. For example a charter yacht might be based in The British Virgin Islands, but the calendar shows a booking in St Martin. What a algorithm cannot determine is the time needed for the yacht to reposition itself between a charter in St Martin and then return back to the BVI’S. This is impossible because each yacht has a different minimum requirement between these types of charters. They also have different relocation fees which are not always stated or advertised.
- Reputable crewed charter yachts sometimes require background on the charter client before accepting a charter. Crews like to know what type of charter group they can expect and anticipate. Additionally-it is ALWAYS required to fill out a guest form which has a spot for PASSPORT DETAILS. The guest form allows a space for the guest to identify food, beverage and activity preferences. It also acts as a way to validate the identity of each guest. This became relevant only a few months ago….A charter yacht in St Martin accepted a “insta book” and wound up being detained in the BVI’S for nearly 2 weeks. According to The Daily Herald based in St Maarten,”The crew had unsuspectingly taken on board a group of seven Romanian migrants who had booked and paid for a four-day charter in the BVI through an online booking platform. Arriving in Tortola at 1:00am on December 6, the group had pressured the captain to dock the vessel on the pretence that a member of the group, a pregnant woman, was very sick. The captain’s radio calls for medical assistance were unanswered. Once on land the group escaped, but were subsequently arrested in St. Thomas, the US Virgin Islands (USVI), the next day and charged with illegal entry into the USA through St. Thomas. One Romanian in the group was wanted for murder, according to a USVI news report.” The full article can be read here: Charter Boat Returns From BVI Detention
- When unexpected trip interruptions occur, charter clients need to have a human they can reach. This winter was another one “for the record books” in terms of snow storms and airline headaches. Wlms Charters had 2 charter clients stuck in the headache on Dec. 26th. Both stemmed from Southwest and JetBlue “meltdowns” in their system. In both instances, we were able to get ground and water taxi transfers to the BVI’S changed and also assisted in getting clients into hotels on St Thomas for the night. And yes, this is a good moment to say: If you have booked a charter yacht, you REALLY NEED to make sure you have 1 trip insurance policy that covers the cost of your flights+cost of your charter yacht!
- At the end of the day, a accredited independent charter yacht broker wants to book you on the best boat and also acts as a “checks and balance.” A real charter yacht broker is required to attend multiple charter yacht shows a year. In doing so, we inspect the charter yachts but also develop close relationships with the charter managers. Since it’s not always possible to view every yacht we book, we work closely with reputable charter yacht managers. We ensure what they are offering is what will be delivered to the charter client. This delicate balance is interrupted when yachts are continually not viewed and then subsequently advertise themselves on “Insta Book” with old and very outdated photos.
- Lastly….we have to mention the uncertainty of pandemics. COVID seems to have changed the game for everyone and everything including country requirements for commercial charter vessels. As The British Virgin Islands is our most popular charter yacht destination, it remains vitally important that we keep up on all the changing regulations for charter yachts. In a POST COVID world, that means basically memorizing every yacht’s current legal status for the BVI’S and also keeping tabs on the immigration status of the crew. These should not be headaches or concerns for the general public, but it is one more reason why simply booking online, sight unseen is just not a viable option for charter yachts.
Curious how the whole booking process works? Feel free to contact us for more information!