After 10 years working as a chief stewardess and broker assistant in the yacht-charter industry, Alicia Ewing has become a retail charter broker with Northrop and Johnson. I caught up with her this week to discuss her experience and how she can use it to help clients plan yacht charter vacations:
How did you get started in the yacht charter business?
I started as a second stewardess on a 156-foot yacht 10 years ago, and within a few months I moved up to chief stewardess. I spent the next eight and a half years on superyachts cruising all around the East and West Mediterranean and doing the Caribbean during the winters. I was really fortunate to see so much of both regions, getting all the way down to Trinidad and Tobago and all the way east to Greece and Turkey. I really covered a lot of ground.
You then came ashore to work as an assistant to Mark Elliott, who has a strong reputation as a longtime sales and charter broker at International Yacht Collection. How long did you get to train with him?
I was with Mark for two and a half years. He’s absolutely one of the best, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with him. There’s a reason he’s as successful as he is, and we left on good terms and are still in contact. I helped him open the IYC office in Newport, Rhode Island, and I worked with him in the offices in Fort Lauderdale and in St. Barths and Sint Maarten.
Why did you decide to become a charter broker in your own right?
I wanted to have a little more of a steady base, and that’s where Kevin Merrigan, the head of Northrop and Johnson, stepped in. We felt like it was a really, really good union, and I’ve been a charter broker with Northrop and Johnson since early July. I’m going to be mostly based in Newport, but I’ll be training in Fort Lauderdale for a month and I’ll be attending all the major boat shows too.
I’m going forward, which means making changes. It’s scary, but it’s exciting.
Your background sounds ideal for becoming a retail charter broker. You know about the onboard experience, you know the key destinations firsthand and you have watched a season pro negotiate contracts. Is your main goal now to develop a client base?
I’m really pounding the pavement on that. I’m going to luxury hotels and talking to concierges, I’ll be at boat shows doing everything I can to introduce myself to people and I am fortunate that a lot of charter clients on the yachts where I worked as a chief stewardess were repeat clients, so now a lot of it is keeping in touch with people I already have relationships with.
You’ll be focusing on crewed yachts through Northrop and Johnson. Do you have a certain style of yacht that you prefer?
I’m happy to help facilitate anything the clients need or want, but the sweet spot right now, I think, is the 120- to 140-foot size range in motoryachts. They’re great on prices, and you have negotiation room with some of the owners. With that said, I’m also working now on a 180-foot motoryacht in Croatia for a client, so the spectrum is broad.
One of the things that’s great about having worked on yachts is that I have a lot of friends in the industry, in power and in sail. If there’s a specific boat a client wants to charter, I know who to call, as a friend, to ask about the boats.
Will you be focusing on the Caribbean and Mediterranean, since you personally know those charter regions the best?
I can speak from experience on those places, but I have the capability of booking throughout the world. I’m doing quotes on the Solomon Islands right now—an absolute diving mecca of the world. I think that now, more so than ever, yacht owners are exploring new places in the world. They’re tired of the South of France in the summertime. A lot of owners are saying, “Why not go to the French Polynesian islands? Why not head deeper into the Pacific?” That’s exciting for charter clients, too. If you look at Montenegro, in the Adriatic, that country is doing some amazing, spectacular things with their port. I can help clients with all of those destinations and more.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role with Northrop and Johnson?
The first-time clients, to me, are one of the best kinds of clients because you can really show them how exciting the whole charter market is. It’s fun. It’s enlightening them on all these different locations and how it really works. I’m more than happy to work with new clients as well as seasoned clients, and I’m excited to be doing it with Northrop and Johnson, especially at this time. We have a new chief operating officer and we’re going to be launching a new website—Northrop and Johnson has a lot going on right now. It’s a really exciting time.
CharterWave readers can contact retail charter broker Alicia Ewing through the Northrop and Johnson website.