When and Why to Use a Charter Broker

Author:
Publish date:
A good charter broker will help you separate the wheat from the chaff

A good charter broker will help you separate the wheat from the chaff

Thanks to Google, there’s very little you can’t find online these days. So why, you might ask, would you need an intermediary or agent to book a bareboat charter vacation? The answer is that you don’t need one. However, you may gain value by using one, depending on where, when and how you want to experience your sailing sojourn.

A charter broker works like a travel agent, representing numerous charter companies in a region or around the globe. They have relationships with various organizations and can do the legwork for you in terms of identifying local companies, comparing prices and providing user reviews of the bases or even of the individual vessels. Think of them as a kind of Expedia for charter boats.

Brokers operate on a commission that is not paid by you, either directly or indirectly, through any kind of higher pricing. Instead, they get volume-booking discounts, which allow them to make a profit by giving you the same price you would get by going direct. In some cases, they may be privy to real-time deals that will allow them to also pass some of the savings on to you.

What’s in it for You

Okay, now that we know they won’t cost you any more, how can a broker help? For starters, some small charter companies at far-flung destinations may not take credit cards, so a broker who does (or accepts a secure online payment system like PayPal) can help with your transaction. Additionally, quotes from multiple providers can be shown in the same format so you can compare more easily. This applies to both crewed and bareboat charters.

Having an on-site advocate can also help in case there are issues on the charter itself. “We have relationships with the charter companies and can usually come to an amicable solution when something goes wrong,” says Chrystal Young, co-owner of LTD Sailing, a school and broker in Grenada.

Along these same lines, companies like LTD Sailing or Ed Hamilton in the Caribbean have first-hand “on island” knowledge of the condition of individual boats and can also advise on the best times to charter in terms of favorable weather or shoulder season discounts. This limits unpleasant surprises, which is always a good thing when on a charter. Think of a broker as a kind of an on-site insider. “We are not some guy in the basement booking trips. We’re out there sailing,” says Young.

Marin Susac of GlobeSailor, a French broker with 12,000 yachts listed at 1,000 providers, adds that her staff is constantly visiting the charter company bases it represents, getting to know the yachts and the managers. They also work with partners in lesser known destinations like Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean territories where charterers often fear to tread.

In the interest of quality control, Susac says GlobeSailor closely scrutinizes the client reviews it receives after each charter and helps with the new European charter certification requirements coming online in some countries. He notes that GlobeSailor also makes a point of revealing the name of the charter company to the guest as soon as the down payment is made and passes on any and all repeat-charter discounts. “We are transparent,” he says, “and can even arrange for additional extras… like a surprise birthday cake.”

That said, it’s important to remember that the success of the charter-agent model relies on how familiar a broker is with the bases they represent. With this in mind, Josie Tucci, general manager for The Moorings US, which works with brokers like VI Sailing and Tropical Yachts (though most of its charters are booked directly), cautions that “Some [brokers] are more familiar with certain destinations than others.” She adds that as an added benefit, The Moorings is an IATA full-service travel agency that can take care of all travel arrangements.

Nonetheless, while I could probably learn to wield Google as well as the next sailor, that doesn’t mean I either want to or have the time. Same goes for dedicating hours to researching destinations, comparing prices and guessing at the quality of the individual vessels on offer at various different small and mid-sized companies. Bottom line: while going direct may be the answer when booking with a large company at a known location when working with say, a small local charter provider halfway around the world, a broker may be just the ticket.

A sampling ofcharter brokers:

Ed Hamilton:ed-hamilton.com

GlobeSailor:theglobesailor.com

LTD Sailing:ltdsailing.com

Tropical Yachts:tropicalyachts.com

Virgin Island Sailing:visailing.com

When she’s not chartering in exotic places, Zuzana Prochazka cruises Southern California aboard Indigo, a Celestial 48

Photo courtesy of GlobeSailor

February 2017

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more