With a strong passion for the seas and luxury boats, Graeme Robson operates one of the most popular up-and-coming luxury boat charter business in Bali.
Q: First of all, congratulations on your wonderful success over the years with your charter business in Bali. Thank you for adorning the seas of Bali with wonderful luxury vessels such as the Burjuman! Can you please tell us in brief how you first started this business?
A: Thank you, although we’re still a very young company with a lot more to do as we grow and hopefully bring more beautiful boats to Indonesia.
My family and I relocated to Indonesia some five years ago, after spending 13 years in Dubai. We are from Perth, Australia, originally, so have always had a love of boats and the water. When we relocated to Bali, we bought one of our boats, Burjuman, with us from the Middle East, for our private use.
We had some long-time Balinese friends help us with the Burjuman when we brought her to the island. They worked for us while we cruised around the spectacular waters of Bali and Lombok and other parts of the archipelago. These friends, who now run the operational and on-water side of our Luxury Charter division, discussed the idea of starting this business together and targeting a particular area of the market. As they have been on boats throughout Indonesia all their lives and are some of the most safety conscious people I have met here, I knew from the outset that we could provide a level of safety, quality and service from the start.
We didn’t want to start another company that simply competed in the same field and level as the existing players, but one that would strive to ensure success by delivering a service that we are proud of, in every aspect. We then commenced construction of a custom-made new 42 ft sports cruiser, Rhino, to add to the fleet.
We started the process of establishing the company, obtaining the numerous approvals and licenses required, and started to deliver on our goal; to provide guests and visitors to the island with unique customized experiences for the best day out on their holiday, or the best holiday of their year. We strive for this with every charter we do, in the service and experiences we provide, whether it’s for guests on a charter, the other owners of the vessels we manage, or within our own business, staff and crew.
Q: How did you come to discover this unique niche and what were the early steps you took to ensure this endeavour would thrive?
A: Our business is based around what our guests’ desires are for a customized charter experience. Our main point of difference is that we are a private charter company, where the vessel and crew are totally dedicated to our guests for their time on board. We don’t operate joint or shared group tours, so our guests are not bound to follow a set itinerary and pre-selected locations, nor share the experience with people that they don’t know. We do, where possible, what our guests want and deliver services from the first point of personalized and dedicated contact to the end of the experience, to ensure we exceed their expectations.
Q: Could you share a little bit about some of the most memorable experiences for you in the business so far?
A: We host many celebrities, dignitaries and VIPs on our charters and have provided many memorable moments, however we pride ourselves on discretion for our guests, so unfortunately can’t share these with you! There have been many memorable experiences, from arranging surprise sunset marriage proposals, being part of the set for television commercials, to arranging a convoy of private jet skis for a member of the royal family. Every day I get to spend on a boat is a unique experience. The last time we had a staff party, when I looked at so many happy smiling faces, although simple, it was one of my proudest moments.
Q: What are some of the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of running your own successful luxury charter business?
A:The two most challenging things are probably maintaining everything with our vessels in a difficult environment to ensure we have the safest, cleanest vessels with top-notch equipment, and competing in such a dynamic environment. Most rewarding is seeing peoples’ beaming faces and receiving positive feedback when we have given someone the best day of their holiday and a memory that will last them a lifetime.
Q: It is obvious that people expect premium luxury products and services when they come to you for their luxury cruise needs. How do you make sure that you constantly deliver what is best amidst a growing market such as this?
A: I guess we just try and remember that our primary aim is to be proud of the service, the quality of our product and facilities we offer. Our response procedures with guests are almost immediate and always timely – 24/7. We are known for our on-the-ground relationships and ability to pull strings for exclusive experiences. We partner with suppliers and agencies that we have hand-selected and who match our quality, and align ourselves with top-level service providers. Achieving this in everything we do ensures we are delivering the best experience to our guests for their preferences, and I believe that’s the key to success in the long run.
Q: We’ve had the pleasure of working intimately with the Burjuman. Could you tell us the background story on how you came to acquire such a fine vessel?
A: I won it in a game of cards… (that’s what I told my wife..!)
Q: What’s your take on the current state of your niche in terms of demand and competition? How are you weighing these two factors and what are your future plans to stay ahead?
A: Indonesia is a very dynamic country and any industry here is always growing at a pace, as is the competition in that industry. The maritime industry here, particularly in the pleasure cruise market, has an enormous amount of untapped potential with thousands and thousands of untouched parts of the country to explore. It’s going to boom as regulations and restrictions are relaxed and modernized. Competition will boom as well, which is good for the guests, and service will improve. I think there are great times ahead for everyone. In so far as how to keep ahead of all of this, we’ll be innovative, we’ll understand what people really want, we anticipate luxury trends and seek out novel experiences and unique destinations, we’ll provide service and value above and beyond, and we’ll keep being proud of what we do every day.
Q: What do think makes the perfect luxury cruise experience?
A: The perfect experience is whatever suits you!
Q: You work hard in a leisure and luxury business to accommodate the demands of your clients for a unique and premium experience on a daily basis, but what do you personally like to do to unwind?
A: Doing this is pretty enjoyable; it’s not like reporting in to a 9-5 job with a horrible boss, so it may sound a little corny but I sort of go to work to unwind!