How one phone call gets yacht owners whatever they want

By Emily Smith, CNNPublished 14th January 2012
Superyacht owners and captains anywhere around the world can call on concierge services to get them anything they want.
A superyacht owner is sailing through the beautiful Pacific waters of Fiji and has a craving for courgettes. What is he to do? Arrange for a refrigerated box of the vegetable to be flown over by private jet and sent to him on his yacht, of course.
This is one of the more extravagant requests Shelley Dowie from Oplicity Lifestyle Management has received, but nonetheless has carried out. Oplicity, like other many other companies, offers a concierge service to yacht owners -- specifically superyacht owners.
"With this kind of clientele they want it now or they wanted it yesterday," says Dowie. "So everything is quite urgent and done as quickly as possible." With a two-minute phone call, an entire evening can be arranged anywhere in the world.
Dowie says clients typically want activities organized for them once they reach the shore, whether they're in the Bahamas or the Mediterranean. Restaurant bookings, car hire, flights and hotels are the most common kind of requests, but they're not limited to a client's leisure interests.
"When they want cheaper fuel, a good deal on insurance, mooring reservations, legal services and yacht repairs, they can call us," says Michael Newton-Woof, who launched "The Yacht Concierge" at this month's London Boat Show. "Clients can call one phone number and have us do everything, both onshore and offshore," he says.
While the concierge services profess to never say no, there are some client requirements they will not adhere to. "We say we'll do anything, providing it's legal and ethical, and we have been tested," says Dowie, who remains tight-lipped over just what these controversial requests have been.
Dealing with demanding clients who expect exceptional standards is not unusual for the concierge services. However, some times of the year can be more challenging than others, such as during the Cannes Film Festival when the superyachting world descends upon the French Riviera town.
"Everyone wants the best table at the best restaurant or club," Dowie explains. "It can get quite political." To get around that she says Oplicity tries to organize several bookings for a variety of services well in advance.
"We contact the yachts to see what they want before they arrive at a port." However, she concedes that forward planning can only help so much, with superyacht travelers likely to have a change of mind in just a matter of hours "from saying they'll have dinner on the boat to wanting a limousine to take them to the best restaurant in town."
But "The Yacht Concierge" insists these services are not limited to the superyacht super-rich. Newton-Woof believes many of the superyacht and gigayacht owners already have their own concierge services attached to their black credit cards. He wants "The Yacht Concierge" to be available to everyone who wants to save time and money -- all for the price of around $2,000 a year, plus a $55 fee every time you call the service.
"These people are cash rich and time poor," Newton-Woof says. He believes even at a time of economic crisis, people are willing to pay up to have everything at their fingertips.
"At times of austerity people look for more value," he continues. "If you can get good value for very little financial cost, then why wouldn't you?"
And for superyacht owners with a hankering for courgettes, sometimes no price is too much to pay.