The first of our ‘Meet the YPI team’ series introduces Sarah Futhazar, Head of Client Experience.
The Client Experience department was launched by YPI on 2nd October 2020. Dedicated to assisting captains, crew, yacht owners and charter guests; the department offers everything from yacht and crew logistics, travel, immigration and berth placements to implementing high-production, tailored events and exclusive reservations.
What brought you into the world of yachting?
Curiosity! I grew up in Reunion Island and moved to the South of France in my twenties. I was fascinated by the shipyard and marina, seeing the beautiful yachts come in and out with their crew. It looked so exciting and adventurous. After establishing a career in communications, I decided to make the leap, quit my job and moved to Antibes to do my yacht training. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work my way up the ladder as solo stew, deckhand, cook and assistant purser across a range of yachts, from 20m all the way up to 150m for transatlantic crossings and in destinations as far flung as St Martins and Florida. I’m so glad curiosity got the better of me!
You have a wealth of experience and have travelled extensively, what inspired you to join YPI’s team and what is your ambition for the Client Experience department?
YPI is the first yachting organisation to bring sales, charter, management and now client experience all under one roof. It will allow my team and I to build long-term relationships with clients, understand their preferences, how their boat works, where they like to anchor, who they like to work with, their favourite activities; totally transforming the experience for yacht owners and guests.
Early in your career you spent time working on board yachts, has this first-hand experience helped you anticipate the needs of Captains and crew?
Understanding what it means to be a member of the crew is so important. From managing access to ports through to accommodating last minute changes, Captains and crew are responsible for a huge amount. As a result, we make sure we are always available for them. Whether it is a request for a pink kettle for the kitchen, vegan menu options, or a last-minute request to dock in Saint-Tropez; we make sure it gets done as quickly and as seamlessly as possible. Every request is taken with the same importance. Our Client Experience team is there to curate memorable experiences for our guests, but also take the pressure off the Captain and crew so they can concentrate on what they do best!
You specialise in Client Experience on-board some of the world’s largest, most luxurious superyachts for YPI’s discerning clients. How does your team make every trip memorable? Could you share a few examples of the type of requests your team facilitates?
It’s all about getting to know your client and understanding their priorities. Every itinerary is bespoke and flexible balancing experiences like wine tasting, picnics in the mountains and snorkelling, with relaxing long lunches, film nights and on-board entertainment.
Making a trip memorable is all about personal touches. For some, simply having a massage each day or having their hair done before dinner makes a huge difference. For others, on-board entertainment makes their trip special. We’ve organised acrobats, magicians, live bands and casino nights, as well as treasure hunts and themed birthday parties for children.
Thanks to our fantastic network of suppliers and contacts we can exceed expectations, often within as little as one or two hours. Recently we created a spectacular archway made of 1000 flowers for a client to propose to his girlfriend on a yacht. We also organised a bespoke dolphin spotting afternoon onboard a yacht - we led the yacht directly to the place where the dolphins were, thanks to GPS coordinates communicated by a plane pilot who flew out to do the scouting specially for us. It is moments like these that makes our work so exciting and worthwhile.
As the world gradually emerges from lockdown, what protocols does your team have in place to ensure all of YPI’s guests can feel reassured that all precautions are being taken to protect them from COVID-19?
Our guests can rest assured that we have adapted and put in place sophisticated processes for cleaning and safety. All vehicles used for transfers are cleaned before every journey, guests receive a mask and anti-bacterial gel and the safety screen between the driver and passengers is changed daily.
Which destinations are you receiving the most enquiries about? Are there any others that you’d recommend to families looking to visit somewhere new?
The South of France is as popular as ever and we’re receiving more enquiries for the Caribbean over the winter. For families or groups looking for something a little different, I’d recommend going to Provence. Some of the small villages near Marseilles and Toulon are beautiful and offer a more authentic French experience. It is a greener, less crowded version of the Riviera.
It is important for the yachting community to encourage the next generation to share their enthusiasm for the ocean. Do they have different priorities and requests?
Younger families are increasingly finding holidays on-board a yacht appealing. They are able to experience the best of a special destination whilst also having the privacy and comfort of the yacht. We have a huge selection of family-friendly activities and day trips that can be arranged very quickly, plus great ideas for keeping children entertained if the parents need a bit of a break! We try to make every trip we organise memorable and hope that great experiences will encourage our guests to come back time and time again.
Finally, we’d love to hear about your favourite yachting memory.
It is difficult to select just one! Docking in Corsica or completing a trans-Atlantic crossing (despite being horribly seasick) were both once in a lifetime moments. However, participating in the St Barths Regatta, on-board a 35m sailing yacht, experiencing the excitement of the race and seeing all the competitors with their spinnakers out was breath taking.
If you’re interested in learning more about YPI’s Client Experience department, please contact Sarah: firstname.lastname@example.org