At last count, there were nearly 9,000 yachts in the world, no two with exactly the same manifest, configuration, or crew. But one thing every luxury yacht program does have in common is preference sheets — the detailed profiles of yacht owners and guests that serve as a field guide for the interior crew.
Preference sheets spell out everything from dietary restrictions and medical conditions to favorite music and morning routines. They’re used to plan provisions, keep guests safe, and arm crew with the information they need to anticipate passengers’ needs. When it comes to delivering a seamless onboard experience, there’s nothing more valuable than good preference sheets — and yet, they are almost always mismanaged and overlooked.
I have seen preferences handwritten on stacks of Post-it notes and scribbled on dirty napkins. I’ve rummaged through boxes of unlabeled binders and suffered through poorly written novels on how guests like their beds made. I’ve provisioned steaks for vegans, used laundry detergent that made guests break out in I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to preference sheets, and here are a few of the most important things I’ve learned:
Designing Preference Sheets
The design of preference forms and guest profiles matters more than you might think, so make sure you’re using a clean template.
- It’s all in your head(er): A busy stew may only have a second to glance at their packet between guests, so make sure the most important information is at the top of every page. Basic details (picture, preferred name, cellphone, etc.) are essential, but it’s a good idea to prioritize health information (medical conditions, allergies, dietary restrictions), and any strong likes and dislikes, so they’re top of mind.
- Keep it short: Organize preferences into categories (food, daily routine, etc.), and keep any notes short and to the point. Bullet points make preferences easy to read, and the occasional bold type or underline can help draw attention to important information — but don’t overdo it.
- Make it visual: Include images whenever you can. Headshots of guests make them easy to identify, and photographs of festive table settings, favorite cocktails and special meals are the quickest way to capture complex preferences and impress even the most particular…