Mastering The Art Of Etiquette: Navigating The World Of Ultra High Net Worth Guests

Jul 28, 2023 | Lifestyle, Crew Members, Crew Tips

Jamila García

Jamila García

CEO Starfish Crew LTD

Jamila García is a true inspiration for hundreds of new stewardesses, sharing all her knowledge with grace, warmth, and an unwavering passion for the yachting industry.


Providing top-notch service and personalized experiences to UHNW guests can be an exciting opportunity, but it also requires finesse, discretion, and an understanding of their distinct expectations and needs.


It is essential to respect guest’s confidentiality and exercise discretion when discussing their wealth, or any related topics. And not only because you have (probably) signed an NDA (but because of that, too!).

Refrain from sharing details about their presence or personal information with others. Remember: you are a representation of the vessel. At all times.

Sharing with everyone that wants to hear how pleasant or unpleasant the vessel’s owner is at the bar, might not be the best idea.

One of the primary challenges when hosting UHNW guests is respecting their privacy and security.

These individuals value their anonymity and expect their personal information to remain confidential.

A professionally run vessel will have implemented stringent privacy policies in order to ensure that the crew is well-trained to handle sensitive information discreetly.

Just a heads up: may a vessel file charges against a crew member due to an NDA breach, this is a civil matter.

Even if you are affiliated to a union (i.e. Nautilus International), their legal team would not be able to help.



When interacting with ultra-high net worth guests, give them your undivided attention.

Active listening is crucial in order to comprehend their needs, preferences, and desires.

Display genuine interest in their conversations and be responsive to their requests promptly.

Promptly addressing their concerns or inquiries will convey professionalism and attention to detail.



Ultra-high net worth individuals often have specific preferences and expectations when it comes to their interactions.

Be flexible and adaptable to their requests while adhering to professional boundaries.
This may involve:

  • Adjusting your communication style: the way you used to communicate with your old principal, might not be the right one on your current vessel
  • Accommodating special dietary requirements: pay especial attention to intolerances and allergies
  • Or providing customized services that cater to their unique needs

Strive to create an experience that exceeds their expectations.

Ultra-high net worth individuals are used to a level of excellence in every aspect of their lives.

This demand for perfection puts immense pressure on crew members, requiring meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to delivering flawless service.

Adaptability is KEY.

Infographic Healthy Diet for Yacht Crew

Creating an ambiance that is both inviting and comfortable is crucial when hosting ultra-high net worth guests.

Pay attention to the smallest of details, such as:

  • temperature control
  • lighting
  • seating arrangements

Offer personalized amenities and ensure that their comfort is prioritized throughout their stay.

Exclusivity and customization are KEY.

By gathering information about their interests, preferences, and previous experiences, you can create truly memorable encounters.

  • Arranging exclusive access to cultural events
  • Private shopping experiences
  • Or bespoke culinary journeys

Personalized touches go a long way in catering to their unique tastes.



Exercising professionalism is paramount when interacting with ultra-high net worth guests.

This includes:

  • Maintaining a polished appearance:
    Waking up 15 minutes earlier to ensure you look fresh, polished, and presentable, is not easy when you only had 4 or 5 hours of sleep. However, guests do notice, and appreciate (even if they do not verbalise it), when a crew member makes the effort to get ready before the start of his/her shift, and when he/she does not.
  • Using appropriate language:
    instead of “Hi” say “Good morning”
    instead of “Sure” say “Certainly”
    instead of “What?” say “Pardon me?”
    instead of “No” say  “I would love to, however…” (see also box below)
  • Adhering to established business etiquette norms

Your behaviour should reflect your dedication to providing exceptional service and fostering a professional atmosphere.

Always avoid discussing their personal lives or wealth, unless they initiate the conversation.

Respect professional boundaries and avoid becoming too familiar or intrusive.

Strike a balance between attentiveness and giving them space to enjoy their privacy.



Ultra-high net worth individuals come from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Show respect for their cultural customs and traditions by familiarizing yourself with their practices and demonstrating sensitivity to their preferences.

  • Avoid making assumptions based on stereotypes and approach each client as an individual. This will foster a deeper connection and promote inclusivity. Be mindful of the fact that what may be considered acceptable in one culture may be deemed offensive or inappropriate in another.
  • Research and Prepare: conduct thorough research on their cultural background, including their country’s history, customs, and business practices. This preparation demonstrates your commitment to understanding and respecting their culture.
    It also allows you to anticipate potential cultural differences that may arise during interactions, enabling you to navigate them gracefully.
  • Sensitivity to Hierarchies and Status: in certain cultures, hierarchies and status hold significant importance. Be mindful of these dynamics and show appropriate respect and deference to UHNWIs and their associates. Pay attention to titles, honorifics, and formalities, as they can vary widely across cultures.



Time is a valuable resource for UHNW guests, and they expect efficiency and promptness in all interactions. Crew members should have the ability to optimize their operations to minimize waiting times and maximize guest satisfaction.
“Hurry up, and wait…”


One of the biggest challenges the yachting industry is facing at the present time. UHNW guests expect their crew to possess a certain level of refinement and professionalism. Training and hiring the right individuals with exceptional interpersonal skills are crucial to meet the expectations of these guests. Train your team to:

  • Anticipate the guest’s needs
  • Proactively address any concerns
  • And strive for perfection in every interaction

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given during my yachting career was to continuously invest in my professional development. Depending on your “after yachting” plan, there are many certifications you can achieve to ensure a prosperous career while working on yachts, but also when you feel ready to leave the industry. For example:

Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Attend conferences, seminars, and webinars to expand your knowledge and network.



Ultra-high net worth individuals may (often, will) make unconventional and challenging requests, some of which can be difficult to fulfil.

  • Never commit if you are not sure. This will create false expectations and frustration if their request is not met
  • Offer alternatives. Do not just say “no”

Interacting with ultra-high net worth guests is an art that requires skill, tact, and attention to detail.

By respecting their privacy, tailoring experiences, providing exceptional service, building genuine relationships, and fostering cultural sensitivity, you can create a memorable and personalized experience for UHNW guests.

Remember, it’s the small gestures and thoughtful details that can make a significant impact.

Continually strive to refine your skills and adapt to the ever-changing needs of this exclusive clientele.

With dedication and the right approach, you can elevate the level of service and forge lasting connections with UHNW guests.

What are the challenges you face when interacting with guests on a daily basis? Please let us know in the comments below, and we will do our best to assist!

Has this post helped you? Share with your colleges and tag us so we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.


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How to say “no” in a polite and professional manner

  • “Unfortunately / sadly, there will be a slight delay”
  • “I really should not this time, but thank you”
  • “Let me get back to you, I will check with my superior”
  • “I can’t help, but I have some resources I can forward to you”
  • “I am afraid we could not make that work”
  • “Unfortunately, I am not authorised to do that”
  • “I am sorry, but that is not something I am going to be able to do for you”
  • “I am afraid that will not be possible”


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