Peter Vogel & Team

Peter Vogel – A Guru In The World Of Hospitality

Peter Vogel – A Guru in The World of Hospitality

Peter Vogel’s name is synonymous with expert leadership and hospitality training in the yachting industry. If you (have been living under a rock and) have not heard of him, he is the Managing Director at Luxury Hospitality Management. Based in the Netherlands, he is also a mentor to our very own Bec McKeever! 

Peter has explored many different avenues in the world of hospitality, ultimately focusing on training and leadership development. Always on the go, Peter is full of energy and passion for what he does. Spreading his amazing expertise, and lighting up lives with his infectious personality. This month, lucky us had the pleasure of sitting down with Peter, as he took us through his wonderous journey from where it all began, to how he envisions the future.

Did you always know that you wanted to do yachting?

I did not, but I knew I was definitely going to work in the world of hospitality. Very early on, I stated to my parents that I would be working on a cruise ship.  When I was 7 or 8 years old, my mother later told me, it was a statement which I made again with conviction. I was 19 when I joined Seabourn Cruise Line in Sevilla on the 4th of May in 1993. I will never forget it! It was magical and after 5 years I got head-hunted by Lady Moura, which is when my career in yachting kicked off.

How did your career begin in the world of hospitality?

I began as a dishwasher and waiter at our local wedding and event centre, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Not only did I enjoy it but, I completely loved it! I only worked there for four months to earn some extra money while I was at school. Eventually, I realized I loved it so much, that I changed schools and joined the School for Bakery & Hotel personnel. I am no baker, so naturally, I chose the hotel side, which led me to apply at a high-end restaurant in my hometown. I worked there for two-and-a-half years as an intern and learned the ropes of our trade. 

How did you transition from yachting to Luxury Hospitality?

After 5 years on the cruise ships and 12 years in yachting, it was time for me to follow my heart. It told me that it was time to offer a service to the industry that was about the crew. I wanted to assist crew to learn all about being a hospitality specialist, as I truly believe that everyone onboard is in service. Not in a boring classroom, but onboard or onsite in the actual “playground”.

After my time with Vulcan Maritime, from the late Paul Allen, we launched in 2009 and enjoyed a great start as it appeared there was a need for it. Since then, we’ve added our leadership development programs for Captains, HODs, and middle managers. This is a field that I’m very passionate about as it is not taught in school anywhere. What a journey – it’s amazing to support crew in an ever more challenging industry. 

Who is your mentor outside the world of hospitality? 

My true mentor is an awesome gentleman, Mr Boerman. He is 85-plus now and I’ve known him all my life, he was my dad’s boss. My father has been a truck driver his whole life and recently retired. He travelled through the whole of Europe on his truck and as a kid, I joined him on week-long trips. I do think that my love of travel was inspired at an early age, thanks, Dad!

Back to my mentor, Mr Boerman, he always showed an interest in my travels and when I started my own business I asked for advice now and then. This grew into a great mentoring relationship and I aspire to be as great as him one day in coaching and supporting fellow entrepreneurs. He always listens and probes you with provocative thoughts and ideas for you to come up with your own solutions. Such a wonderful skill!

Where do you see yourself and Luxury Hospitality in 10 years?

This is a great question and I’m so glad you’re asking it. We are on a mission and this mission allows us to lift the quality in the world of hospitality to great heights. It is an industry whose focus lies on the human capital available to the owners and charter guests. Human capital that is appreciated, nurtured, and cared for will ultimately provide much greater experiences to their guests. These will naturally be oozing in personalized hospitality and Luxury Hospitality will be at the forefront of this mission and be a leader in the field.

How are you finding online training compared to face-to-face training in the world of hospitality?

There is a space for either form of delivery but online will never replace face-to-face training, it just can’t. There is something about human energy that can’t be transmitted through an internet connection and a screen. However, with the recent pandemic, it has been proven that you can deliver impactful training and development services, coaching for example, that support in-person delivery throughout the year. It inspired us to create leader and learner journeys for a multitude of our clients in recent months. 

What do you love most about your job?

I would have to say discovering my own potential, as it is unlimited. Every day we assist people to do just that. We help people unlock their true talents and allow them to understand their purpose in life. Whilst doing this I realize that there are no boundaries. When you allow yourself to lead from the heart it is possible to inspire others to do the same. It is very rewarding and waking up every day with true purpose is available to everyone. 

How has COVID affected your mindset?

It’s been interesting. I think that everyone, including myself, has had a bit of a wave effect as we are entering the third wave here in the Netherlands. Initially, during the first wave, I was rather happy to be home, to be honest. After all these years of non-stop travelling it was wonderful to be home and reset! This obviously changed quickly.  After a few weeks of enjoying life’s goodies – great wine & food – the indulgence was too much I needed to find a more balanced lifestyle.

I shifted the focus onto my health and I’ve been very grateful for this time as I’ve found ways to recentre. My sleeping habits changed, yes even did a sleeping course! I have become a sleeping champion, which allows me to have far greater energy levels throughout the day. Right now I’m just glad to see that the world is seeing vaccines arrive and being distributed and it gives a sense of hope that this is almost behind us. Luckily we keep ourselves busy with work for our clients as they have all transitioned online with us. But like all of us, I think it’s time to start drinking corona beer again and leave this disease behind!

Is there anything you miss about yachting?

Waking up on the water, sitting on the deck with my cup of tea, and enjoy the scenery change every day. That I miss immensely!

What has been your most memorable training session in the world of hospitality so far? 

There was one training during my early days, onboard an amazing Feadship. The owner had complained about the service during his previous trips and the Captain asked for me to come on board and figure it all out. Now, as I always look for the strengths in people, before introducing change, my initial assessment wasn’t received well by the Captain. He thought I was too “sweet”. I’ve been called many things in my life but not “sweet” haha.

Anyhow we continued on my training path, and the crew loved the training, they got opportunities to share their own feedback of what happened during guest trips and together we found a service approach that we all agreed would work. It was therefore a great moment when the Captain shared, following the next guest trip, that the owner had loved his trip! The service was amazing and we were asked to please come back to continue the development work. We have done so for 9 years now.

Peter Vogel

Peter is truly one of a kind and has a persistently positive outlook on life. His drive and creativity are certainly a huge inspiration to the world of hospitality and us at Virtual Pursers.  If you ever have the pleasure of meeting him, count yourself lucky!

Desire Truter

Yacht Life While Confined Onboard With Desire Truter

Yacht Life While Confined Onboard with Desiré Truter

Running a team on a yacht & entertaining guests can be a tremendously challenging task. Add in the COVID pandemic with its restrictions and life becomes even more complicated! Being confined onboard, senior crew are faced with several additional pressures in the workplace. They need to prioritise keeping their guests entertained and safe, as well as ensuring crew well-being. Chief Stewardess, Desiré Truter, gives us first-hand insight into guest & crew life whilst being confined onboard. She also reveals what measures her team are taking to create a daily positive environment.

How are the crew keeping their spirits up during the pandemic?

Although we have some restrictions, spirits are still high, and the team grows stronger day by day! We make a huge effort to host weekly activities onboard. We’ve hosted a number of events while being confined onboard, including quizzes, movie nights and even bingo!

Are there any activities or routines to make sure the crew are keeping healthy?

Even before lockdowns our crew have been an active bunch, we really encourage a health-conscious environment. Our team is exceptionally fit and have excellent routines that include daily workouts; it’s amazing what workouts you can do with minimal equipment! I personally use an app called CompTrain, it offers free home workouts and all you need is a skipping rope and a dumbbell, or kettlebell and is perfect for when you are confined onboard! Other crew love yoga and Pilates, but HIIIT and kettlebell circuits are the most popular. We are also lucky to have nutritious food, with a huge thank you to our wonderful chefs. Proper nutrition and easy workouts make living a healthy lifestyle while confined onboard completely achievable!

What COVID friendly activities are you providing the guests with to keep them occupied?

Although they are not confined onboard, shore excursions have been limited as guests want limited exposure. We have covered all of the classics including Guest and Crew Olympics, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed! A lot of our themed entertainment takes place at mealtimes as the guests are quite active during the day. We recently did a karaoke evening where dinner was a bougie take on classic snacks, did somebody say truffle popcorn?! My favourite evening so far has been our disco themed night. We had our cocktail station all set-up and encouraged our guests to get creative behind the bar. Before we knew it, they all got stuck in and were learning how to make their favourites!

The deck department have also been very proactive in entertaining the guests with all sorts of water sports. We have had some very athletic guests this season, who have been participating in everything from jet-skiing to diving. It is fair to say that the eFoils have become especially popular! At the end of the day, the yachting experience for our guests has continued to be just as wonderful and has not changed immensely. We have our incredible crew to thank for that!

What additional measures is the boat having to take during this time?

There have been several additional measures, with both guest and crew health & safety being our number one priority. For guest trips, the crew quarantine and are confined onboard prior to guest arrival. Extra precautions are taken when receiving provisions, all packaging is removed prior to items coming onboard which are then fully sanitised. For crew returning from leave, we have imposed mandatory hotel quarantine as some countries have no quarantine rules at all.

Has the pandemic affected crew turnover at all?

COVID has definitely put things into perspective for many yachties and some of our crew. A few have chosen to leave the industry entirely due to the heightened risks and complications that now come with air travel. I would say our turnover has stayed the same, however, the reasons for leaving have shifted. Ultimately, crew have to do what is best for themselves and it’s really important that they are happy onboard.

Do you have any recommendations for keeping your team motivated while they are confined onboard?

The pandemic has been a tough time for everyone and especially seafarers. It is essential to shift from a purely outcomes-based approach and check in with your team. Are people okay? Do they require support? What can you do to help? Sometimes it could be in the smallest gesture but now, more than ever, mental health awareness should be a priority. You should see your fellow crew not just as colleagues, but as family! Using this time for professional development has been a key motivator. There are great courses offered online, especially for interior and are a perfect way to keep occupied when you are confined onboard. Why not study for your WSET II, learn a new language, or even get another department to teach you a skill!

What do you predict for the upcoming season?

I doubt that we will see any immediate changes. However, there are now more systems in place for handling the curveballs that the pandemic has thrown at us. I predict that charter and private yachts will see more usage and job opportunities will increase. I urge crew to be proactive when it comes to being informed about restrictions, travel advice and keeping their certificates and visa’s in-date.

What have the positives been in this unprecedented situation?

We have definitely learnt to not take things for granted anymore! As superyacht crew we have always been fortunate when it comes to traveling and seeing all parts of the globe. For many of us, this has not changed. We are also lucky to still be able to be surrounded by other people whilst being confined onboard. Whereas many people on lockdown in our home countries, are extremely isolated. The silver lining is knowing that we would have grown immensely, for smooths seas never made skilled sailors!

Desire Truter & team

The yachting world has been just as affected by the pandemic as any other. Making the most of any given situation is always a positive way to deal with a tough time. It sounds like Desiré and her crew are certainly making lemonade out of lemons, despite being confined onboard. We would love to hear your ideas some activities you use to keep your guests and crew occupied during this difficult time!