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!

 

The Role of a Purser

The Role of a Purser

Size means everything in the superyacht world. Although, the bigger the yacht, the more pertinent the role of a Purser. As yachts increase in size, so do the administrative pressures faced by Captains and their shoreside counterparts. This explains the significant growth the Yacht Purser job role has had over the past few years. Soon, the role of a Purser will hold the same weight as the more familiar yacht crew jobs. Without a Purser, the ever-increasing regulations and administrative workload could be detrimental to the proper functioning of the vessel.

What is a Yacht Purser?

The need for a Purser exists on larger yachts with the sole purpose to ensure seamless operations. Under the Captain’s direction, the Purser is essentially responsible for the effective and smooth running of the vessel. As a senior crew member, the Purser manages several areas, including HR, accounts, interior, purchasing, inventory, and legal aspects. The role of the Purser is to be the single point of contact for all department heads. A credible and qualified Purser should create uniformity and streamline administrative duties, making them an invaluable asset to the Yacht.

What does the role of a Purser entail?

Pursers generally have multiple essential and important duties. Some of these tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Finance – Takes ownership of all fiscal matters including accounting, budgeting and bookkeeping
  • Buyer – Purchases everything needed to cater for crew and guests including food, drinks, uniform, cleaning products and more
  • Contracts and Negotiation – Liaise with suppliers and distributors to ensure the yacht is provisioned
  • Crew Administration – Will administer payroll for the crew and oversees all crew immigration
  • Yacht Administration – Organise port clearances, logistics and customs.
  • Charter Administration – If the yacht is chartered this will incur further responsibilities
  • Guest Activities – Liaise with guests and crew to organise activities
Industry experience required to become a Purser?

Eloquent communication skills, sound industry knowledge, first-hand experience, and an eye for detail are absolute must-haves for a Purser. Since the role of a Purser revolves around paperwork, efficient and accurate administration and accounting skills goes without saying.  

Although the job requirements may differ per yacht, in a nutshell, a well-rounded Purser should encompass the following

  • At least five years’ experience in the superyacht industry
  • Corporate land-based experience
  • Exceptional service, communication, organizational, diplomacy, and delegation skills
  • Excellent computer skills – proficient in Microsoft Office and various accounting software
  • A good understanding of maritime law
  • ISM and ISPS protocols
  • Financial management
  • Knowledge of cruising areas, including restaurant suggestions, shoreside activities
  • Provisioning around the globe
  • Excellent knowledge of wines
  • STCW & PSA
  • ENG 1 Medical
On-board vs shoreside Purser

An on-board Purser is self-explanatory. Land-based Pursers do everything an on-board purser does, just in a remote capacity. There are many reasons why yachts choose to outsource their yacht administration and opt for a shoreside Purser

  • Space – Can’t accommodate a Purser on-board 
  • Cost-effective – A dedicated Purser without the overheads
  • Flexibility – Don’t require a permanent employee or prefer flexibility with hours  
  • Staff retention – The Purser you’ll never lose
What salary can you expect as a Purser?

For an established onboard Purser, with great responsibility, comes great reward. The role of a Purser oversees business critical functions, so it is fair to expect just compensation and time off. The salary is largely dependent on the size of the vessel, however tools such YPI can provide a more-or-less ballpark figure. As per Yachting Pages, “pay for a Purser can range from roughly €4,000 to upwards of €7,000 per month” and will most likely include rotation. Most commonly 2 months on two months off, requiring vessels to employ two Pursers to cover the one role.

How can the role of a Purser assist you?

A superyacht is essentially a business and as such should operate as one. Without a Purser, large yachts may struggle to function effectively, let alone maintain the high standard of service that on-board guests expect. The role of a Purser is established to assist the Captain and Chief Officer to alleviate the administrative duties, eliminating stress through saving time and effort. With twenty years combined experience, Virtual Pursers are industry experts who understand first-hand the ever-increasing administrative pressures faced by the maritime industry. Offering a flexible approach, Virtual Pursers are readily available to support all vessels, no matter the size of the yacht or the extent of the need, as well as other maritime professionals such as Yacht/Fleet Managers, Charter Brokers, Marinas/Shipyards. An ideal solution for yachts that are fully crewed, have minimal space on-board, or who don’t necessarily require full-time support. As well as yachts who have an established Purser, supporting shortfalls and as a temporary solution. Using Virtual Pursers guarantees continuity in a cost-effective manner, introducing the concept of “The Purser You’ll Never Lose”; retaining all the information and experience that comes with a great Purser, for years to come.

Q & A with co-founder of Virtual Pursers Bec McKeever

How did you become a Purser?

I came into yachting with a background in accounting, not planning to utilise my past life profession at all actually. My first yacht with the infamous M/Y Octopus, at 126m she is a beauty! I was instantly in awe with the Chief Stewardess & Purser but it wasn’t until a year or two into yachting that I started thinking about a career path and that I had the potential to climb the ranks. I was Chief Stew for a few years before Purser. Two very different roles but a lot of personal and professional development in the Chief Stew role, I believe, that really makes a positive difference to your ability in the Purser role.

Do you think you need yachting experience to be a Purser?

Yachting is so different to any other industry and experience within it lays a solid foundation, it’s the integral part of becoming a successful Purser.

What’s your favourite aspect of being a Purser?

Having my finger on the pulse and being able to orchestrate the logistics of the entire vessel. It’s so rewarding to see my plan come into action and be pulled together, especially when you have a bit of OCD.

Q & A with co-founder of Virtual Pursers Dominique Smit

Do you have to be a Chief Stew before you become a purser?

Even though it is a completely different role, it is recommended that you have some Chief Stew experience before you become a Purser. Not only will it give you a better sense of responsibility and leadership but it allows you to work closer with other department heads and gives you a better sense of how the different departments function together and the bigger picture of how the boat functions overall which is essential for the purser position.

Would you recommend doing a Purser course?

I would definitely recommend training for the role of Purser, background knowledge is essential and any additional training is always beneficial. However, do your research before you pick a course. Having a mentor to guide me through my career has been invaluable so if you do have anyone you trust, ask for their advice.

Was it always your goal to become a Purser?

I didn’t start yachting with the goal to become a Purser, I didn’t even know what a Purser was in the beginning! But as my career evolved, I started enjoying the constant challenges each new position brought and the Purser position is so stimulating and every day is different that I felt like it would be the perfect job for me.

Virtual Pursers trusted business model intends to revolutionize the yachting industry by providing an innovative, cost effective, practical shoreside solution. A dedicated Purser without the overheads. The Purser you’ll never lose. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.