Charter broker, The Sacks Group Yachting Professionals
Date interviewed: August 2010
Editor's Note: In May 2011, Ali Kaufmann joined Denison Yacht Sales in Fort Lauderdale, where she is creating an entirely new charter division.
Congratulations on your promotion this summer to charter broker at The Sacks Group Yachting Professionals. How did you start working for the company?
I’ve actually been in the yachting industry for about 10 years now. I started as a stewardess on yachts. I did that job for three or four seasons in between my interior design courses at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. After I finished at school, I started doing interior design consultations for yacht refits. I really enjoyed it, and I did a lot of big projects, but I was so young that I wanted to continue exploring my options in the industry. One of those options was yacht charter.
That's what was on my mind one day while I was at the salon in Fort Lauderdale getting my nails done. I overheard a conversation and realized that, right there in the salon, was Jennifer Saia, the president of The Sacks Group. So I approached her. I told her I wanted to be in the business, and I asked her if I could come in for an interview. She was hiring, and I became her executive assistant/charter assistant.
I did that job starting in late 2006, and I was promoted to charter broker this June.
So, you cut your teeth as a retail charter broker in the middle of the worst economic recession in generations.
I did. It was the worst time ever to do anything. But I learned an important lesson because of it, about how important it is to have repeat clients. Those are the only people who were still chartering at that time. It was rare to find a new client thinking about luxury yacht vacations. I really internalized the idea that charter brokers have to work hard to keep their clients happy year after year after year.
How, exactly, do you do that?
I go overboard with preparation, information, and attention to detail. I don’t leave any stone unturned for my clients. I want them to feel that I actually care about what they’re doing. They’re putting their trust in me with their family time and their money, and I genuinely care about that. I want to make sure that they have an exceptional experience.
What else do you think sets you apart from other charter brokers?
There are certainly other brokers with more experience than I have. They’ve been in the charter segment of the business longer, and I can’t do anything about that. But I’ve been in the yachting business for a decade, and I understand it. Plus, I have energy and enthusiasm. I’m hungry to work hard and build my client base. I want to give people everything they want, and more.
Are there any types of charters that you particularly enjoy booking?
I like the family charters. People who can afford these luxury yacht vacations are generally businesspeople who don’t have a lot of time to spend with friends and family. It’s very special to them to do these charters, to get away for some fun with the people they care about. For me, that’s so satisfying. I love booking those charters the best.
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