About five years ago, I was at a luncheon aboard a motoryacht where the conversation turned to charter yacht brochures. Digital brochures were beginning to become an option, and some people saw them as a threat to the charter industry. At my table were about a half-dozen leading charter brokers, many of whom have longtime experience in the industry. I listened to them discuss how their clients would absolutely, positively, never, ever stop asking for printed brochures. These brokers insisted that charters would be impossible to sell if yacht management companies and charter yacht owners stopped printing expensive, glossy marketing materials.
"Clients like the feeling of luxury between their fingertips," one broker told me in a tone that attempted outright gravitas. "That simply cannot be replicated in a digital format."
I was reminded of that conversation yesterday, when I uploaded this interview with charter broker Sherry Yates of Yates Yachts, who is shown in the photograph at right. She's running an entire charter-booking operation not only without printed brochures, but also without new paper of any kind.
"Yates Yachts is a green company," she told me, explaining how she learned the importance of the environment while living aboard her own boat in the Caribbean for 10 years. "In addition to supporting yachts that advertise their efforts at sustaining our planet—recycling, reusable water bottles for guests, wind and solar energy, and the like—all of my correspondence is done electronically. That includes inquiry replies, yacht brochures, and charter agreements. Any paper I do generate is recycled."
Yates is so serious about "going green" that her office is heated by solar power, and the radio she listens to is powered by wind.
"I know brokers who send out hundreds of packets and brochures, and they all get thrown away," she said. "I am trying to limit what I put into the environment."
"Going green" is becoming a trend in the charter industry, for sure. Large management companies such as Camper and Nicholsons International and Burgess Yachts regularly tout their efforts to operate in a carbon-neutral fashion. The retail-booking agency Boatbookings offers a button on its website that lets you purchase carbon credits at the time you book your charter, for an instant offset. New motoryachts such as the 147-foot McMullen and Wing Big Fish generate hot water from heat exchangers on the generator and main engine, as opposed to using a traditionally separate, electricity-guzzling water heater. New sailing yachts such as the 190-foot Royal Huisman Ethereal work with firms like the CarbonNeutral Company to offset the emissions from charter vacations. Even smaller yachts that are several years old, like the 76-foot sailing catamaran Akasha, are going green by installing water chillers that let them replace plastic water bottles with reusable, refillable water bottles for guests. That's no small shakes: Akasha's crew told me that they previously would go through about 22 cases of bottled water during each charter week. With 24 bottles per case, the refillable bottles are saving the landfill from more than 500 empty plastic bottles per week.
I am encouraged every time I hear of another yacht like these, or about a broker like Yates who is striving to lead by example. They are proving every day that yacht charter remains one of the most forward-thinking vacation options when it comes to environmental stewardship. My hat is off to them, and I hope you will support them with your charter business.
Editor's Note: Boatbookings is a sponsor of CharterWave, where this blog originates.