As part of a Celebrity Estate Manager Network event at the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show, we visited Fleet Miami’s 154’ Delta, USHER. It’s a gorgeous yacht. Rich hardwoods, Chihuli glass fixtures, and custom coral embroidered Berber set the backdrop for rattan and leather furnishings to create a masculine yet tropical interior. We were as impressed with the shiny red (and spotless) engine room as we were with the upper deck hot tub and outdoor lounge. It has a full chef’s kitchen, a generous forward master stateroom, and we discovered a main deck head with an intricately laid seashell walls in the tradition of a Sailor’s Valentine; a possible homage to the owner?
We were fortunate to tour USHER with FM marketing manager Kathy Kennedy. She shared with us the basic models to access the fleet. The most innovative model is Fleet Miami’s Owner Member program. If one already has a yacht, one can add his boat to the fleet, and in exchange, access any of the dozen or so vessels ranging from a 54” East Bay fishing boat to a 147” Feadship, with a range of boats in between: all of which are maintained, staffed, and ready to go at all times.
The owner’s yacht becomes fully managed by the company and is used by other Owner Members and select charters. The yacht owner’s only expense now becomes actual travel cost- food, fuel, dockage fees etc. This is potentially a huge savings for an owner who can expect 10-15% of yacht’s value in operational expenses annually, without any sacrifice of experience.
As an option for one who does not already own a yacht, individuals may buy into the ownership program. For a set fee, a client buys a block of ownership credits which may be used towards charter. These members access the same privileges as yacht owners such as priority booking, crew requests, personalized itineraries, and flexible scheduling.
The visionary behind Fleet Miami is Microstrategy CEO Michael Saylor. Well known for his forward thinking and early predictions that mobile technology was more than a passing fad, Mr. Saylor owns many of the fleet’s vessels personally. With so much invested, it seems obvious that he would be the one to organize the process and make yachting more cost-effective. While there are similarities with fractional ownership models, Fleet Miami is distinguished by the fact that the owner pool is comprised largely of actual yacht owners like Mr. Saylor. These are individuals who are not willing to compromise on their experience, and who are all for maximizing their financial investment.
In an interview with The Superyacht Owner, Fleet Captain Glen Allen told readers “Michael Saylor saw a big need to simplify not only the ownership of yachts but also the need to streamline the charter process.” He added “Mr. Saylor hates inefficiency. He looked at how when we added a second and then third yacht to his stable, the crew became much more efficient. He saw that with multiple yachts we could utilize the crew much more efficiently. But then the inventory of available days of use grew and he was not able to fill those days – he felt we needed a system to take advantage of that.”
The key to Fleet Miami’s success is maintaining that VIP experience for all owners and guests. That means service. When one randomly charters, there’s always a chance that the crew just doesn’t mesh with your guests, or they’re just going through the motions for yet another group of strangers. With Fleet Miami, it’s your crew. With a few tonnage / experience exceptions, if you like a certain Captain, Chef or Stew, that’s who you’ll have. They know you. They know your preferences and lifestyle. Ms. Kennedy told us that many of the crew are even asked into owners’ homes to extend service for special events or guests. They become an addition to the Estate Staff.
After our tour of USHER, we boarded one of the fleet’s tenders for a quick waterway tour of the fleet’s other boats docked at nearby estates Villa Vecchia and Terra Veritatus. Our mate said he considered his job one of the best in the yachting world. He noted the unique opportunity to become skilled on the several different boats within the company and the opportunity to see the world’s best ports. He continued with what seemed to be a bit of envy for the crew that was in a particularly exotic locale with the company’s Feadship Harle, a yacht he hopes to work on soon. What we heard was a crew member who was very happy to be of service to many owners and excited about the opportunities working with Fleet Miami offered.
Ultimately, the goal of Fleet Miami seems to be making yachting easy and stress free. All the owner has to do is show up- which is the way it should be. This should definitely a top resource for your Little Black Book.
You can catch a glimpse of USHER as the set to a pretty rowdy party thrown by Vince and the gang in the last Entourage movie. (Still miss that show!) See The Boys are Back in Town for highlights from the production.