Truth About Sailing

10 mistakes gulet owners do toward travel agencies

This post is meant for gulet owners but it might also be interesting for lots of clients to read as it will give them a great insight of some things that happen “behind the curtain” in gulet charter business.

Some gulet owners are wondering why we are not giving them more bookings. Maybe they will find the answer in this blog post. This is all written with best intention to establish better connections and make everything easier and better for the client – on the long run.

It is a bit long, but education is the key and they say it is not the size of the post that matters but the quality of the message. 

Enjoy.

 

In a perfect world, here is what a gulet owner would do to make their partner travel agency 100% happy:

1) VERY GOOD GULET PICTURES!

Lots of gulet owners do not realize, that having professional pictures of the gulet could improve their bookings for up to 30%! Some gulet owners all they had to do is make amazing pictures of their gulet and they could increase the prices for 15% or more. And you do not need to have ULTRA LUXURY gulet to make good pictures.

Gulet Mezcal amazing picture

 

 

2) DETAILED TECHNICAL INFO OF THE GULET!

Good material is not only pictures. Clients are getting more and more demanding so it is a common thing to get questions such as a size of the bed, size of cabins and bathrooms, sailing equipment,…

Absolute minimum should be super detailed info about all equipment in cabins, all the details about water sports, the composition of beds (TWIN, DOUBLE beds), salon equipment,…

In this case, LESS IS NOT MORE!!! 

 

3) CREW PROFILE

I think that the crew is 100% the most important part of any gulet. If we have professional CREW PROFILE with a short description and some pictures along the way this gives HUGE CREDIBILITY to the gulet and also the clients really know how to appreciate this.

If the crew is different every season, this usually means bad news.

Here is a good example of CREW PROFILES!

Gulet Getaway Crew Profile!

Gulet Angelica Crew Profile! 

I am very well aware that finding the crew that will stay with you for many years is a very very hard thing to do. In case if this is not possible it is very useful for the agency to know at least the characteristics (standards) that gulet owner has for his crew.

Crew makes your cruise

 

For example:

1) We have at least 1 member of the crew that can speak xy languages – actively.

2) The chef needs to have at least xy experience.

3) Sailors know how to sail.

4) Skipper has xy experience…. 

We do not work with gulets where the crew can not communicate (actively) at least in the English language. 

Some of the things that I found super important when it comes to the crew ( taken from my experience, while I was cruising with gulets):

a) CAPTAIN: needs to know the area where he is cruising and needs to be very motivated to bring the clients to best bays. He has to know how to communicate with clients and explain to them what will happen next day and if the clients have any special requests about the itinerary.

Captain that does not know how to communicate with guests is very average captain.

 

b) CHEF: needs to be flexible according to clients wishes. Presentation of food is as important as the taste! He needs to have a feeling “when to come out of the kitchen during the lunch” to get an applause. 

 

c) Sailors and
other help:
 if the person responsible for cleaning the cabins can not see the dirt he can ruin all the work from a perfect captain and chef! If the waiter does not know how to serve clients well even the best food will not taste that good. If the communication between the crew is poor – the work will not be good. 

I was on several gulets where the chef was amazing, the captain was very good and sailors were fine also. But there was no communication between them and that made the trip very unorganized and left the bad taste in my mouth. 

 

4) FOOD INFORMATION AND POLICY OF GULET OWNER

This is the most touchy subject in the entire thing. Food prices are always NET PRICES (no commission inside) which agencies are paying to gulet owners.

I 100% believe that besides the crew, the food is the second most important thing on a gulet cruise.

Food prices (especially in Croatia) are different with almost every single owner. And this is fine with me.

Also, the high prices for food never bother me – IF YOU CAN SHOW US, WHY YOU CHARGE SO MUCH!!!

We were working with gulet owners that had quite low prices for food…and very unhappy clients.

We were working with gulets that had incredibly high prices for food…and also very unhappy clients.

On the other hand, we also have both examples (low prices and very high prices) where people were incredibly satisfied when it comes to the food.

GULET FOOD

 

The bottom line is this (when it comes to food):

1) It does not matter what is the price of food you have – just show us why you have this price, so we can explain it to our clients!

2) Menu example and some pictures of the food you are preparing would be incredibly helpful and could explain your high price immediately!

3) Make sure you deliver on your promises! If you are telling us, that your food is incredible….we are saying the same to our clients!

 

And if you will not follow on your promises…we will look bad!

 

And we do not like to look bad. We put too much effort to clients support!

 

1 last thing! I still have to meet a gulet owner that has amazing food on board and is booked poorly!

 

All gulets that provide truly amazing food and that do not save money in this part are booked very well.

 

5) GULET PRICES

Lots of gulet owners think travel agencies are “blood sucking animals” that only wish to blackmail gulet owners and trick them into getting as low prices as possible and get commissions out that will make them rich from 1 single booking.

Maybe some agencies were like that a couple of years ago.But you know what? Those agencies are not in the market anymore. They went out of business.

When it comes to prices this is important (at least for our agency, I can not talk to others):

a) The value that you offer is much more important than the price you have.

b) I hate when owners have crazy high prices and then they give 50% discounts to make some sales.

c) I also hate when gulet owners give us super prices and then they provide shitty services and make excuses that for the money they got, that was just fine!

 

Example no.1

If you have a gulet that costs 20.000 €/week and you charter it for 10.000 €/week, the client will not expect 10.000 € gulet and services! He will expect 20.000 € services – no matter what he paid for!

If I book an accommodation in Hilton hotel for 200 €/week, I expect Hilton treatment, not 200 € treatment!

 

Example no.2

If your gulet has a realistic price of 10.000 €/week do not put the price at 15.000 €/week and then give 35% discounts! This is a huge problem especially in Turkey when everybody is competing only on prices. 

We have a partner in Turkey that is super strict on prices. He almost never gives any discounts. If you get them – you have to earn them!

But:

a) this conditions apply for everybody!

b) the prices he has are very realistic and competitive in the first place!

c) he gives TONS OF VALUE FOR THE PRICE! So clients always get more than what they are paying for!

And it works!

Example no.3

There is no official categorization for gulets and sometimes agencies are truly confused when they compare some gulets between each other.

You can have 2 gulets that are from technical standpoint almost the same. Both have 30 meters and 6 cabins and built in 2005.

1 gulet has the price of 8.000 €/week.

The other gulet has the price 16.000 €/week!?!

And this is where the other stuff comes in. The crew! The food! The services on board! The maintenance! And this can mean all the difference.

In most of the cases (from our experience) the gulet for 16.000 €/week is:

a) booked better

b) has better feedback and happier clients

 

We understand all this as an agency. But there is 1 point.

If your gulet seams to be very expensive, but you offer HUGE VALUE and you have super satisfied clients that are coming back, explain this to us. Tell us exactly why your price is so high. And then we can do business. 

If you are 50% more expensive than your competition explain to us why?

What do you do for the clients that are so special? If we know this info and if we truly feel that your gulet is worth the price…we will be much more comfortable to advise this to our clients. When we offer gulets and clients will ask us why your gulet is so expensive – we have to explain them this.

And if you made a good job and explained this well to us…you can be 100% sure we will also do our best to explain it further to clients. 

 

It is also in our interest to promote gulets that GIVE HUGE VALUE and not gulets that only GIVE DISCOUNTS!

 

We are well aware that in this times also discounts are an important part of this business, so for sure be a bit flexible. But be realistic – in the first place.

 

6) BOOKING LIST 

We get tons of requests from clients every day. And 50% of the requests are a complete BS!

The only problem is that we do not know which 50%….

But this is not important. We have to give professional advice, good deals, prices and AVAILABILITY to all of them.

 

To call each and every gulet owner for every single request we get, would be a suicide! 

It is just not possible!

So having the booking list of your gulet by hand all the time HELPS A LOT!!!

And it is sooooooooo easy!!! All you have to do is just make a base of your partner agencies, and for every week you make, – all you have to do is send an email to the entire base.

 

With this you will make 2 things:

1) you will inform your partners every now or then that you still exist, 

2) you will help them a lot as they will not have to double check every single time the inquiry arrives!

The big plus for you.

 

7) SPEED OF GULET OWNER!

When clients are sending requests did you know that the agency that answers it first has 70% more chance to get the booking then the agency that answers second?

Speed is crucial in this times.

And if a client asks a question which demands a direct reply from gulet owner…and gulet owner needs 2 days to answer it?

I can only say that next time we will think really hard before we send you a new request. 

If you wish to survive in these times you have to be fast! This is the fact!

 

8) MENTALITY OF GULET OWNER!

People are not rational! This is the fact! Most of the times we react on emotions, not on mathematical facts.

Clients are the same.

Did you buy your last shirt because of some rational mathematical fact or because you felt and looked good in it?

Some gulet owners are just plain old “fun” to work with. They are stress-free, they do not complicate, they provide fast replies and give away good info and when you send them clients you are 100% sure everything will be perfect. And even if something goes wrong you know the owner will easily solve everything.

And when we as an agency get an inquiry – this “good feeling” means the difference between offering “gulet A” and “gulet B“!

I am not saying that a gulet owner would have to “kiss ass” of an agency so that they will push him (I personally hate when this happens)!

I am talking about professional, stress-free, honest, uncomplicated, fair, ego-less dialog between 2 business partners. If this happens, then also business always happens.

 

Here is the short list I HATE when it comes to business partnership!!! Use them at your own peril 🙂

1) Huge ego! 

2) Rudeness!

3) Losing your temper!

4) Lying about services! (actually lying about anything is very bad for the long term)

5) Playing games! Be straight forward!

6) Sucking up (kissing ass)!

7) Being unprofessional! 

8) Talking around the bushes (get to the point)!

9) Over complicating. When simple things get complicated without any reason!

10) Not being open to suggestions and new things.

I must say I am guilty of all of this thing mentioned in this list!

But the good thing is I am trying to learn from them and the entire company Goolets now has this list in front of them all the time also…and we will do our best to avoid them and we will expect the same from our partners also.

 

9) 3 x DEADLY SINS THAT HAPPEN WHILE CLIENTS ARE ON THE CRUISE!

If you will be guilty of any of this 3 deadly sins then you have to know our cooperation will be finished FOR GOOD! 

We will very gladly share our bad experience with all our partners and clients that ask us of opinion about your gulet.

 

a) DEADLY SIN NO.1 – Not Delivering on your promises!

– If you say you have 5 hours/air condition/day included in price – do not save on fuel! If you do not put the A/C on for 3 days because of bad weather and then on day no.4 it is 35 degrees during the night and after 5 hours you turn off the A/C because it is only 5 hours/DAY!?! This actually happened to us in the past!

– If you say you provide DELUXE food and then you serve french fries entire week!?!

– If you say you will have 4 crew and then you only have 3 crew!

– If you say you will give free captains dinner and then you do not give it!

– If you promise ANYTHING – follow this promises 100%!

– If you promised sailing and then you do not provide it (even if weather and conditions allow you) then do it!

 

If you can not do it for some reason inform us about that – do not hide it. If the reason why you can not do something is legit then it will be perfectly ok.

 

b) DEADLY SIN NO.2 – Trying to milk money from the client and saving on services!

If you are saving on fuel! If you are saving on food! If your bar prices are too high. If you are super strict and you do not allow the client to bring absolutely anything (drinks) on the ship with them. If you cheat them on the final drinks calculation. If you give them evil eye, because the tip was not 100% up to your expectations! 

 

The client is always the king!!! (Unless he is a complete idiot, which is also possible of course in some occasions:-))

 

c) DEADLY SIN NO.3 – Treating clients like your own clients when they arrive on the gulet!

Several gulet owners believe that when clients steps on their gulet – that this client are no longer from an agency but they become their own clients.

Gulet owners that have this mentality are not working with us anymore.

If we send you a client:

a) this is the client of agency Goolets when we made a reservation,

b) this is the client of agency Goolets while he is making check in process,

c) this is the client of agency Goolets while the cruise is in a process,

d) this is the client of agency Goolets when the cruise is finished! 

 

This means:

– if we wish to make a check in on a gulet with our representative, this is okay!

– if there is any problem during the cruise – we are the first to know!

– if the client wishes to come back next year, we are the first to know!

 

If gulet owner gets an idea that the part of an agency is over as soon as the payment for the dates has been done for the client then we will probably not have a long lasting relationship. We are responsible for the happiness of our clients and we always do EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER to make clients happy.

 

We put much effort in:

1) getting the client in the first place

2) providing him with the best possible info

3) giving him the ultimate support

 

And this means our job is not finished when the client pays for deposit. Our main goal is to make the client SUPER HAPPY as this is the only way to survive in the market.

 

What is the “fun part” about this? We never wish to complicate and gulet owners that are OK, NEVER – EVER have any headaches from our part. We talk for 5 minutes by phone before the clients arrive. We check the preference list together and we help them with check in procedure…and that is it.

 

Gulet owners that know what they are doing never get any “advice” from our part as they do their job perfectly. 

 

10) LAST BUT NOT LEAST: AGENCIES ARE “CHICKENS” AND LIKE TO PLAY IT SAFE! GIVE US THIS FEELING AND YOU DID 80% OF THE JOB!

There is nothing scarier as booking a gulet where you do not know if gulet owner will be able to show up!

If we have a small feeling that something
could go wrong – we will not offer you!

If we see a bit of despair in your eyes – we will not offer you!

If we get a small tip from somewhere else you have problems with a bank or some other money issues – we will not offer you!

If we received info you did some crazy things in the past with clients – we will not offer you!

If everybody is avoiding you and you can not get any bookings and you can not explain why – we will not offer you!

 

I have to say that in 10 years in business we also did ALL THIS MISTAKES!! We pushed gulets that nobody else wanted to push! We booked gulets that were about to go broke (just because they gave us amazing prices). We booked gulets that had a bad rep!

 

It is hard to admit it, but we did it! And to be honest some experience was very very very positive! There is a lot of gossips in this business and on several gulets we have discovered they do great things (even if some people were talking very badly about them). While on other occasions the experience was terrible and we had to pay for it from our own pockets.

 

But the good news is we learned from it!!! And now we are not making the same mistakes anymore.

 

So one of the most important things a gulet owner can do is to make an agency feel safe!

 

If you give us a feeling you will do your best to our clients.

 

If you give us feeling everything will be perfect.

 

You have done 80% of the job!

 

How can you do it? Read this blog post again and you should get an idea! 

 

If you still do not know after that, then send us an email and we will be happy to explain it all again via email.

 

I would like to say again that this blog post is not about being a “smart ass” and trying to teach stuff to people that are far more experienced than we are.

 

Not at all! 

 

I wrote this blog post to give a bit of insight how travel agencies are thinking (or how we are thinking – we do not wish to speak in the name of other agencies).

 

I hope it will help you. Who knows. Maybe because of this blog post we will improve the cooperation we have with you in the future.

 

FINAL ADVICE:

If you will do this you will be successful. 

 

PERSONALIZE: SOMETIMES IT IS BETTER TO HAVE SUPER QUALITY RELATIONSHIP WITH 5 AGENCIES, THEN AVERAGE RELATIONSHIP WITH 200 OF THEM.
 
REWARD US – IF SOME AGENCY IS GIVING YOU GOOD BUSINESS THIS AGENCY SHOULD HAVE BETTER CONDITIONS THEN EVERYBODY ELSE.
 
UPDATE US WITH INFO – if you made some new things on the gulet. If you are renovating something. If you bought some special equipment. If you have a new amazing chef. If you made something new, inform us about this. We can not promote it if we do now know it exists.
 
GIVE DETAILED REPLIES: if you get our e-mail with questions do not reply YES and NO. Reply also WHY, if you say NO – EXPLAIN WHY, if you would do it differently EXPLAIN WHY, if you think we are crazy, tell us also and also explain to us WHY YOU THINK LIKE THIS.
 
HELP US WITH GOOD ADVICE: you own the gulet. You are in contact with clients. You have tons of experience and you know more about this business as we will ever know. If you see we are not making sense with something explain us this and advise us on this. We will appreciate it a lot!
 
SEND US GOODIES: you came up with the new amazing itinerary? Did you figure out something great that can help our clients? You are willing to motivate us extra with something special. If you send us some good presents when we will not expect it, we will LOVE IT!!! (I sound like a woman :-))
 
UNDERSTAND US: if we are giving you hard time we are doing it because the client is doing the same to us. We should all work together for better results.

 

TAKE INITIATIVE: if you get a good idea if you have some special cooperation concept in your mind if you wish to propose something different…do it. We are more than happy to hear any ideas like this. 9 out of 10 of this type of ideas are crappy but this does not matter. The 1 that makes it is always worth the reward. And maybe your idea will be super good. 

Time to finish.

Hope this was helpful. 

Written by

Mitja Mirtič

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