After years working for yachting companies, this couple opened their own agency in 2008.
Owners, Taylor’d Yacht Charters
Date interviewed: September 2008
How did you get started as charter brokers?
Sandy: After 30 years of being a schoolteacher and moving to Florida in 1999, I entered the yachting business as an assistant to charter broker Ann Landry with Bob Saxon and Associates. I moved into crew placement at BSA, and then Camper & Nicholsons International bought BSA, and then I opened the Newport office for Camper & Nicholsons. In 2004, Northrop and Johnson offered me a job creating their crew placement, charter management, and retail charter divisions. Tom became the executive director for Northrop and Johnson’s worldwide operations. We loved it. It was great.
We have always wanted to start our own business. In the summer of 2008, we moved to Natchez, Mississippi, to be with our family and opened Taylor’d Yacht Charters.
Tom: Charter is the only segment of the yachting business where you can be located anywhere. You just have to be willing to travel to boat shows to see the boats, which we are.
What kinds of boats do you typically book?
We prefer crewed yachts 100 feet and larger, worldwide.
What are some of the best charter destinations you’ve personally visited?
Sandy: We love the Western Mediterranean, and Italy in particular. We like Greece, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas as well.
Tom: I lived in Italy for three years. In the Western Mediterranean, as well as in Greece, you have such a variety of places that you can go. In the Caribbean, there are beautiful islands, beautiful cruising areas, and relaxation everywhere. In one part of the world, you can spend money on shore, and in the other, you can just lay back and relax.
We know that our clients have different tastes, so we try to be aware of what’s available in different places.
What is the first thing you ask a new charter client?
Sandy: Have you ever chartered before?
The client’s answer tells Tom and I where this client is coming from. We need to know whether they are experienced charterers—and if so, we can talk to them and deal with them much differently than if they have never chartered before.
Tom: We have to match their expectations to the realities of yachting. We have to make sure that the client’s expectations are in line with what might actually happen. A top-end cruise ship is about the same cost as a $50,000-a-week yacht, and so people sometimes think that’s the same as the top of the yacht charter options.
Sandy: We have to explain to them that there are a lot more options with yachting, that there is much more out there than a cruise on a cruise ship.
Describe your ideal charter client.
Sandy: We like clients who are flexible. Things change. The client needs to be flexible about time, dates, and destinations. That’s ideal.
Tom: It helps if the client is financially qualified to charter. If a potential client becomes involved with planning a charter, finances should be talked about up front, so there are no surprises.
Describe your nightmare charter client.
Sandy: We are very lucky so far in that we have not had a nightmare client. It just hasn’t happened. We hope we never do
Tom: We have seen nightmare clients on the yachts that Sandy has managed, so we know they are out there. We would hope that we could turn a situation around before it became a nightmare.
Describe a booking where you worked “above and beyond” to help a client.
Sandy: There was a very demanding client who did not fill out the preference sheet, and as it turned out, wanted certain fine wines, champagnes, foods, that sort of thing. The yacht’s crew had no way of getting these items as the clients were boarding the boat, so Tom and I went to Newport and secured everything that was needed. We placed it onboard, and the clients never even knew we were there. It saved that charter.
What are a few of your favorite charter yachts, and why?
Sandy: Since I managed a whole fleet of charter yachts, some of my favorite yachts are of course the boats that I know so well, but there are so many others that we love, and they are always yachts with a terrific crew. It could be a 65-foot sailing yacht or a 300-foot motoryacht, and if the crew is good, you know you are going to have a good charter. If the crew is not generous and professional, I don’t care how beautiful the boat is. It is going to be a bad charter.
One way to pick a charter yacht is to read the crew profile that a broker sends along with the yacht’s brochure. Yes, look at the brochure to see what the boat looks like, but read the crew profile, see what the chef enjoys cooking, what kind of experiences the crew have had, and where they are from. You will get a much better feel of the atmosphere aboard the boat.
Tom: One of our advantages is that we know a lot of charter yacht crew personally. In Sandy’s case, she placed a lot of crew on boats.
Who are a few of your favorite yacht crew, and why?
Sandy: Because I have placed crew all over the world on boats, I cannot pick any one out, but they have to be can-do people. The word no cannot be in their vocabulary—even though we all know that sometimes the captain has to say no for safety’s sake. I want the charter guests to always feel that anything they want is possible. They should be waited on hand and foot, and the crew should know when to be attentive and when to back off.
A lot of guests want to be entertained, and others want to be left alone. Crew need to be able to read that. That’s the crew I like, the ones who can read their guests.
What makes you different from other charter brokers?
Sandy: We’re the dynamic duo. It really does make a difference when two people are working together for the same purpose. We are able to do more for our clients because we can do twice as much work in the same amount of time.
What else should CharterWave readers know about you and Taylor’d Yacht Charters?
Sandy: Our location is unique. We are in virgin territory here in Mississippi, and we have to educate the people here about what yachting is all about. They think a big boat is a barge on the Mississippi River. I think our mission is to get Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana—all the states around us—into yachting. We want to increase awareness of the industry.
Tom: The charter broker community is tight-knit. We’re all protective of our clients, but we all help each other. So we’re also looking forward to offering our fellow brokers an awareness of our area.