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Old 18-02-2016, 15:14   #16
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Ive worked with both Mom & Pops, the bigger outfits (Moorings, Sunsail), and mid-sized (TMM). Like most Mom & Pop business the small operators are usually struggling financially and many don't make it. Ive been through the failure of a few, owners who had become friends, and watched them struggle with a small failing business with few perspectives on the horizon...not pretty.

Moorings is a corporate machine, similar to working with any large corp, they have a very effective business model and are making money, but its not as much fun. Their strong centralized control makes it even less fun.
That is what I expect. The small guy just can't compete, unless doing it like a hobby.

Having said that, with the explosion of FB and IG media. If one can run the social media efficiently, one can compete with the big shop.

No doubt, a land base job makes 10x more. But it may not be what we want in a long run.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:18   #17
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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I have been actively crewing and captaining from Grenada to central America for many years. It seems that I have ran into many single Cat chartering shops. They are usually run by a couple. They often give me their card. Since I don't them well, I hesitate to ask too many specific questions and pose any threat onto the sailing ground.

Like OP, just looking for more real life experience in the chartering/entertaining business in Paradise. I believe it is just a labor of love job, and barely get even type of operation. Just open my ears and listen what other will say.
Many of these operate illegal one boat charter operations. Annoying to those of us who've been thru the agony of getting legal.

As discussed on another thread recently, its more of a lifestyle choice, there are much more effective ways to make money.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:19   #18
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Agree, except the USA license. Some venues, like Belize, dont give a F what license you hold or from where, you must acquire theirs to operate legally. They dont even credit what you already have...you must start at square one.
Yes, Belize is one of the worst bureaucratic nightmares. Depending on what port you are in, procedures and fee can vary...hahaah.

But, hey it is their country. We are outsider.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:34   #19
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

There's a huge range of possibilities for chartering really. From Airbnb at the dock to fully fledged business models and anything and everything between. Some random ones I've seen specialise in training, surfing, kitesurfing,swimming, poetry etc. I.e. Start a website called oceanyogacatamran.com (or whatever floats your boat) take bookings for groups, take them sailing for a week of zen and make some dollars along the way. Those sites usually charter the boat and simply act as booking agent, skipper, hostess etc. there's a swim one in BVIs but I'm sure they operate anywhere and everywhere.
Another popular model is to charter to friends and friends of friends etc. a lot of cruisers are doing this to replenish the kitties. Some charter areas simply require $150/month for permits, others are more difficult to legally operate in. Skippers should be qualified under their home ports regulations and vessels should be surveyed and fitted with safety gear for the relevant cruising area. Trying to run a fully fledged charter operation can be difficult if the cost of the boat and associated costs need to be covered by the income, but for owners that don't need to cover loans and expenses it can be worthwhile to do a few weeks or months/year. I've met a lot of operators from the occasional 4 week/ year to cover expenses, to the full time super yacht captains. In most cases they enjoy the work, some more than others and depending on your focus it will depend on which type of guests you will have on board and what your day to day routines will be.
One example, a friend bought a $220K cat in St martin and ran day booze cruises through a local booking agency. 2 years later he had the boat paid off and now does 4 weeks charters/year to cover his yearly costs.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:34   #20
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Originally Posted by rockDAWG View Post
That is what I expect. The small guy just can't compete, unless doing it like a hobby.

Having said that, with the explosion of FB and IG media. If one can run the social media efficiently, one can compete with the big shop.

No doubt, a land base job makes 10x more. But it may not be what we want in a long run.
Internet/Social Media promotions are critical for most. One exception, as mentioned earlier, is being fed your guests by a larger local operator like a prime resort or cruise ship line. They take a big cut, but do all the promoting and booking (a lot of work and expense).

In my experience, particularly in International venues for extended charters, almost all our bookings were from Internet promotions. Near zero walk in traffic. These days having a slick web site is not enough. If you want to play you have to pay by using promotional services like Google AdWords.

The daysail segment is more of a walk in business, but to be really successful you need to be in a high density tourist area with boat(s) that can accomodate high head count...like the big open bridge deck cats many in this segment run. Think Key West.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:59   #21
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Yes, Belize is one of the worst bureaucratic nightmares. Depending on what port you are in, procedures and fee can vary...hahaah.

But, hey it is their country. We are outsider.
Yes, Belize is a huge PITA, especially for a foreigner doing business there...and after you jump thru all the hoops...they change the rules on a regular basis.

And yes, we are guests, no matter how long we are there. Many Americans assume they have the right to go wherever they want and do whatever they want...a little Tropical reality usually cures them of that. Have watched many come in with an attitude and pack it up and quit in frustration after about a year.

One of the biggest compliments I ever got in Belize was from a local, who was not pleased with the way something had gone for me, who said "we got to take care of our own". Wow, Im a local now (after many years in Belize)...well...not exactly, but almost.
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Old 18-02-2016, 16:34   #22
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Suggested reading for the OP, or anyone considering starting a business in the Tropics/Carib: "Don't Stop The Carnival" by Herman Wok. Its not about the charter biz, but applicable no matter what biz. Read it again after you've lived thru the experience...its even funnier then!
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Old 18-02-2016, 19:44   #23
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Most insurance companies recognize US license , most resorts will require to be co-insured before putting you to work ! I was never asked to produce a license buy had to show insurance to all resorts .
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Old 18-02-2016, 21:44   #24
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Good thread, with a lot of useful info. Not sure I can offer much, but there's a (dated) book by Ross Norgrove, on the subject http://www.amazon.com/Charter-Game-S...=ross+norgrove
He's a good author, & communicates well.

Other than that, here's a snippet of what running your own day charter as an expat can be like
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Old 19-02-2016, 07:28   #25
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Funny you posted that, it was making it's way around on Facebook not too long ago.

For those of you who mentioned longer charters vs short day excursions, I am curious what your itinerary was like for your passengers? Were they treated as guests with you doing all the meal prep, cleaning and basically waiting on them or was it more of a crew effort for everything with you piloting the boat? Also, did you take just anyone or did you do your best to filter out those types you didn't think you would mesh with?

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Old 19-02-2016, 07:48   #26
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Originally Posted by Tscott8201 View Post
Funny you posted that, it was making it's way around on Facebook not too long ago.

For those of you who mentioned longer charters vs short day excursions, I am curious what your itinerary was like for your passengers? Were they treated as guests with you doing all the meal prep, cleaning and basically waiting on them or was it more of a crew effort for everything with you piloting the boat? Also, did you take just anyone or did you do your best to filter out those types you didn't think you would mesh with?

Tom
Depends. There are subcategories within this category of charter, ranging from low end "backpacker" charters to high end full service charters, to every option in between.

I've avoided the backpacker end of the market, which is a bit like the daysail trade in that its all about head count. I do know a few operators in this market and their goal is to pack as many aboard as possible with minimal service cost (think Rice & Beans for a week).

The higher end full service charters are "all inclusive" that means fully crewed (captain, cook, crew...often cook/crew are the same person). All meals (really good meals), soft drinks, and maybe standard booze (beer & wine only) included. These are usually run for just 2 to 6 guests.

In between are things like "instructional charters". As I mentioned, I call the guests on these "crewdents" because they are there to gain training and experience so want to participate in everything. During this type of charter, they are my crew with the objective that by the end of the trip Im just their training wheels and they are doing everything to run the boat. These trips may, or may not, be booked with a cook aboard. Regardless, the crewdents usually want to gain galley experience so end up at least assisting with preparing some meals. They even get excited about learing how to service a marine head!

If you want to stay busy, you cant do too much filtering. Though it is best to do some very early in the lead working process. With some experience you can quickly spot different types of inquiries, including scams, and handle them appropriately.
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Old 19-02-2016, 07:58   #27
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

We have many charter owner friends. I think those that run ray trips and harbour tours seem the happier ones - good bucks and minimum intrusion into your private life.

Those who run week long trips ... some do very well, others not quite so. It seems the amt of publicity required is pretty high per one client lured on deck. Plenty of work, no privacy, possibly more bucks but then zero private life.

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Old 20-02-2016, 07:07   #28
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

The numbers don't work.
By the time you crunch the $ at the end of a year you will be very disappointed.
I watched some very dedicated owner / operators in the BVI's, St Maarten, Etc try this scheme and NONE of them made enough money to make it worth the grief.
I know a couple who were the most organized, well set up charter operators I could imagine. Bought a nice large Cat, set up all necessary legal requirements, located in best possible place (BVI's) and worked 40 plus weeks a year with excellent repeat and referral customer base for 10 years. They finally quit and got jobs as captain and crew on big yacht. If this couple could not make any REAL money no one can.
By the time you calculate the number of hours a week you are going to work (think 100+ a week), replacing the items broken by idiots on your boat, dockage, permits, etc, etc, the rate you can charge ( nothing) because EVERY person down here with a boat is doing this, you will work like a dog all year and end up at the end of it with a broken pre- maturely aged vessel and $6.29.
Good luck
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Old 20-02-2016, 07:52   #29
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Not only what Rourkeh says, when you are chartering your boat you are not cruising.
Most charter boats are stuck in the same location because that's how you market it and build that client base.

And there's no way I would get chucked out of the biggest cabin on my boat to go sleep in the smallest...

Sent from a stupid phone that replaces words with weird stuff.
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Old 20-02-2016, 08:17   #30
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

I would never discourage people to start a business I myself would have no part of. But then I think the Squatty Potty is a stupid idea and they are making unbelievably more money than me go figure. But Chartering is probably one of the worst business you can start. I deal with a lot of chartering business both full sized professional accounts and the Mom and Pop business. It's brutal and the drop out rate is huge. Most people like the idea, but I find that most people do not have the personality to last long in this business. There has to be a separation between your home and your business, combining the two usually doesn't work out well at all. I'm going to give you very sage advice here so listen very carefully. At the end of the year, McDonalds pays far better.

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