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Industry Insight

Meet the Team: Lucy Oliver

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Lucy. She shares insights into a career in yachting, the intricacies of yacht charter, and the latest trends shaping the industry.

At Ocean Independence Lucy Oliver has stood out, not just for her success in yacht charter, but for a proactive approach to her progression in the industry. As a Charter Broker, Lucy has experienced a steady increase of clients and bookings year on year, a clear indicator of her growing prominence and respect in this competitive field.

Her career trajectory is not just a story of professional growth, but also of personal evolution, marked by significant milestones, including a five-year stint volunteering with Young Professionals in Yachting (YPY). A role she recently decided to step away from, passing the baton to the next generation of young professionals. A decision influenced by her new role as a mother and a commitment to solidifying her status as an experienced Charter Broker.

 

OI: What inspired you to work in the yachting industry?

Growing up near Southampton, I was always close to the water. Our family business was refitting cruise ships and the occasional superyacht. But my 'aha' moment came working with a marketing agency at the 2012 Monaco Yacht Show. There, amongst the energy and glamour, I thought, "This is my scene."

A stint interning at a superyacht brokerage confirmed it, and they quickly pointed out I was well suited to working directly with Clients. But before becoming a Charter Broker, I decided to do a year as a ski instructor and another crewing on yachts.

OI: What impact has your time as crew had on your current role?

I worked on a range of yachts, from a 70-metre motor yacht to a 40-foot sailing yacht. This experience has earned me respect from Captains and crew, as they know I can understand their challenges when organising itineraries and provisioning. They have very quick turnarounds between charters and I'm very thankful for all the work they do. It's crucial to remember they operate in a high-pressure environment, and acknowledging their hard work goes a long way.

OI: What's the secret behind your rising success in yacht charter?

Since stepping away from YPY and becoming a mother, I have found this new phase in life has significantly paralleled and enriched my professional pursuits. Many of my old YPY peers are also embracing parenthood, and we've found that the adaptability and foresight it demands are akin to what's required in luxury yacht charter. This synergy between personal growth and professional expertise has deepened my understanding of Clients' needs, many of whom are parents themselves.

They come to me seeking memorable experiences with their families, so I strive to tailor charters that are not just luxurious but also resonate on a more personal level. Balancing parenthood and a thriving career, I find each aspect drives my commitment to this wonderful industry.

OI: Your recent familiarisation (Fam) trips to the coast of Ecuador and Amalfi sound exciting. How do these “boots on the ground” experiences enhance the service you provide?

In Ecuador, it wasn't just about soaking in the scenery, but also about discovering new aspects of a unique destination. Learning about the local culture, environment, and climate added great value to the experience. Being one of the first to explore such a distinct place was a rewarding experience. 

The hospitality shown by the crew and local community in this remarkable location was more than I had anticipated. Their approach was truly welcoming, extending beyond the usual service smile and welcome drink; they showed a genuine happiness in hosting visitors and a keenness to share the beauty of their country.

This trip unveiled a lesser-known yet stunning cruising area. With my first-hand experience, I am now equipped to offer a deeper insight for Clients seeking an alternative to traditional yacht charters, guiding them towards this unique and enriching sailing experience.

On the Amalfi Coast I soaked-up the rhythm of the Mediterranean yachting lifestyle. It's one thing to tell a Client about the bustling ports and serene hideaways; it's another to guide them through these experiences with the confidence of someone who's seen it for themself.

These trips arm me with the kind of insider knowledge that you can't find in a guidebook. They allow me to weave together the practicalities of yachting with the magic of luxury travel to craft yachting experiences that are tailored to each Client's desires.

OI: You've found a niche in organising yacht charters for events. What's that like?

It's a really dynamic and rewarding part of my job. I started with a charter for the MIPIM real estate event and have since arranged yachts for the ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) in Cannes and various high-profile business events. Each is completely different and requires a lot of planning.

For instance, with MIPIM, it’s all about creating a professional yet exclusive setting. Imagine discussing business deals and hosting Clients on board a yacht with Cannes as your backdrop. Lighting and entertainment are key. We aim for the right mood, whether it's a relaxed evening with a jazz band or a lively party with a DJ.

Catering is another big piece of the puzzle. It's not just about good food; yacht chefs will only cater for 12, so external chefs are often needed to cater for the extra numbers. And for corporate events, branding is subtle but significant. It's about showcasing the brand in its best light and figuring out how that is best achieved.

OI: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Being a Charter Broker isn't just about planning luxurious holidays. It's a role that demands a deep understanding of everything from international politics to the intricacies of VAT regulations

We need to be well-versed in global affairs, yet also possess a detailed, almost intimate knowledge of each yachting destination. It's a delicate balance – being proactive in planning and reactive to the world's changes, all while ensuring our Clients receive nothing less than the most comprehensive and exceptional service. It's complex, but incredibly rewarding.

OI: Do you see any emerging trends in the superyacht charter market?

Whilst it sounds cliché, there's definitely a shift towards charters “off the beaten track”. It seems like the whole “seen and be seen” aspect of yachting is taking a backseat. Now, it's more about personal adventures and quality time with family and friends. It's a more down-to-earth approach to luxury yachting, focusing on the experience rather than the show.

There is increasing interest for destinations like Svalbard and the Norwegian Fjords, which is pretty exciting.

Even in popular areas like Greece, there's a trend towards exploring the lesser-known islands. It's not always just about being in Mykonos and Santorini anymore; it's about finding those hidden corners that offer a truly authentic experience.

What's interesting is how this changes the whole vibe of a charter. Instead of following the usual routes, clients are keen on discovering secluded spots. This means more time enjoying the yacht and less about trying to get a table at the trendiest onshore restaurants. It's a refreshing change. Captains get to navigate new waters, and clients enjoy a more intimate experience.

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