|Building Business with Pleasure|
Part 2: “It allows them to spend time with people in a way that they didn’t imagine was possible before.” —Nick Trotter, Meridian Yacht Charters
By Kim Kavin
Trotter says a five-yacht event like the one he arranged would start around $300,000 for the week and that the uniqueness of it is exactly what companies are willing to pay for. It makes even the busiest high-level clients not only want to attend, but to keep coming back year after year. “They really want to be there,” Trotter says. “This is invitation-only, and there is a business aspect to it. You have to be good enough to go.”
One of the yachts that Trotter is using for this winter’s event is the 138-foot Blue Harem, a popular charter boat with a reputation for throwing great parties. The client specifically asked for a yacht that could handle a wrap-up gala, and in most cases, that means a motoryacht.
“A lot of them have nice dining saloons where you can spread out and have good meetings as well as corporate cocktail parties,” says Bonnie Mims, charter fleet manager at Koch, Newton & Partners, which coordinates Blue Harem’s schedule. “The sailboats, while they’re beautiful, lack the exterior entertaining areas that may be good for corporate charters—especially if you’ve got three or four boats chartering together, you’ve got eight to ten people per boat, so that’s 40 or 50 people for one evening gathering.”
Mims says the crew aboard Blue Harem is also a good example of what corporate clients should seek out. “Capt. Carl [Zanziboni] is flexible,” she says. “He works well with people and with large groups of people. He makes things happen in an effortless way. Then it’s cleaned up, and you don’t even know what happened.” Indeed, a theme party thrown aboard Blue Harem at last year’s charter-yacht show in Antigua drew dozens upon dozens of attendees, all given feather boas, colorful masks, and strings of pearls to wear. The excitement raged late into the night, but early the following morning, the boat was in tiptop shape.
Of course, a corporate charter can be done with far less fanfare aboard smaller, less-expensive yachts. “Midrange, even if a company wanted to treat their sales managers to something, it’s out there,” McLaughlin says.
That type of charter event can be fun, for sure, but it definitely won’t send the same message as a week aboard a fleet of private luxury yachts in paradise. And at the end of the day, isn’t the impression a corporate getaway makes what really matters? No good businessman wants his guests feeling like they’re on a “nametag tour.” People should be eager to come back next year. They should leave thinking, “How can I stay on that guy’s good side in case he does this again?”
“You can’t buy that with ads or over the telephone,” Trotter says. “You have to really build these personal relationships in business with the right people. And that’s what these guys who are successful are able to do.”
Meridian Yacht Charters
Phone:(866) 960-0000. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.meridianyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.