Yacht Stews Must Determine Expectations to Serve


Today’s world has many examples of corporate and individual high-net-worth personalities, celebrities, and political lifestyles.

These groups of people often have huge estates, large yachts and private aircraft that demand exacting management skills, technical knowledge, and an understanding of professional service relationships to function smoothly.

On yachts, in particular, the level of service skill demanded is high. What does this level of service look like?

Well, as we all know, in the minds of some captains, interior service is “not rocket science”, but what is it? The abilities a good stew must have are so much more than housekeeping skills.

Service is the management of meeting and exceeding expectations. Today’s professional yacht stews have a sophisticated knowledge of entertaining, etiquette, computers, food, cleaning products, fine collectibles, technology, security, safety, and so much more.

Today, more than ever, managing the level of service expected of high-net-worth individuals — be it on a yacht, at an estate, or on a private aircraft — is more or less a process for managing a lifestyle and creating a particular quality of life. How does one go about managing a lifestyle such as this smoothly, effectively, and consistently? How does one meet these expectations?

For great service to exist, there must be an exchange of information between a service giver and a service receiver. The giver must know what the service standards and expectations of the receiver are. Without this exchange of information, the art of service cannot be consistent, smooth, and effective.

But that’s exactly what professional yacht stews are expected to do. Often, we are asked to perform to the highest levels of service without ever having met the owners or guests. How do we give the best service if we don’t really know what the specific service standards and expectations are?

Every chief stew who has ever taken a job on a yacht where there has been no formal handover knows how this feels. If you are lucky, there will be a “manual” of sorts, with a list of preferences and “do’s and don’ts” at the very least.

But if there is no manual, you may be on your own, unless the captain and the rest of the crew can clue you in.

The fact of the matter is, there are broad generalities of personality types among people who own and charter yachts, and each type requires different service.

There are commonalities among types, but there is a lot of specific and personal information we have to sift through in order to quickly and discreetly figure out how to provide the best service once the guests are on board.

Sometimes the only common language and a system of standards to help us out here is the preference sheet we get from the captain, manager or charter broker. It would be great is we could read a personality profile and know more about the guests, but that is not really an option.

Those in positions of authority — be they captains, charter brokers or management companies — must acknowledge that this is an almost impossible proposition. What makes a good stew great is the ability to quickly discern the expectations from clues available beginning from the moment guests step aboard.

Then, hopefully within just a few hours, we are operating where we want to be and giving the guests the best service experience possible.