In the Charter Fishing Business, there is no substitute for good, old fashioned hospitality. That’s right. I said HOSPITALITY.
When a client joins you aboard your vessel for a fishing charter, they’re essentially coming into your home for the next several hours. I take pride in welcoming my clients aboard as though they are coming into living room to enjoy some conversation, excitement and…to catch fish.
You would be amazed at how just a little dose of hospitality can start your charter off on a good note and put everyone at ease.
In many cases, you are meeting your client(s) face-to-face for the first time. Even though you likely had a few phone conversations, e-mail exchanges or text messages, meeting the client(s) in person is where the “rubber meets the road.” Although they may seem obvious, here are a few little things you can do to extend some hospitality when your client(s) arrive to come aboard:\
- Warm Greeting: Once the client(s) are within speaking distance, wish them a good morning/good afternoon. When conditions allow, I like to jump onto the dock to greet everyone with an introduction and a hand shake. (Pro Tip: When a family with junior anglers shows up, make a point to introduce yourself to the kids first. This let’s them know that they are important and that worthy of the captain’s attention.)
- Help Everyone Aboard: Be a gentleman and a good captain by helping each person aboard one-at-a-time, including a few “watch your step” or “please take your time” as they come aboard. This will also help avoid and injuries or subsequent lawsuits.
- Offer to place their food and/or drinks in your cooler or specific hatch: Remember: These folks don’t know their way around your boat like you do. In the same way when guests come over for dinner, get the food and drinks put away before you get started.
- Help Stow Personal Items: This is big! If you have a safe and dry place that is easily accessible, offer to your clients the opportunity to place their valuables such as car keys, wallets, purses or phones in that dry place. I’ve found that clients can be afraid to ask where to place such items. This offer is another form of welcoming and hospitality.
- Show Off the Boat: Now it’s time to brag a bit. Show off the features of your boat and use this an an excuse to point out where the life vests, floatation devices and other safety items are stored. Try to help your clients get comfortable with the layout of the boat. This will pay dividends later when your catching fish and things get chaotic. Also, if you have live bait, show the junior anglers the livewell. This will keep them mesmerized until you reach the fishing grounds.
- Thank You: As you cast off, take a moment to thank everyone for coming aboard and you look forward to a great experience on the water. For the next several hours, make your clients feel at home and like they are the only people in the world.
A good host checks in on your guests and ensures that they do not go hungry or thirsty. Be sure to periodically remind the clients that there are drinks in the cooler and to stay hydrated. In the Florida sun, I can tell you that this is critical.
Again, make your clients feel at home. In between fishing action, share some recent stories or talk about your kids to let them know that you’re not only a captain but a person just like them. If the clients can relate to you, they will become comfortable and at ease.
Of course, at the end of the trip, be gracious and appreciative as you help each person off of the boat. As you would at your home, see them off with a thank you and a wave. When your clients are being picked up by a ride sharing service (Uber, Lyft, etc.), a nice touch would be to ask the clients to text you once they get picked up so that you know they departed in good shape. I find that my clients appreciate the concern and wind up becoming repeat clients.
A little bit of hospitality can go a long way.