All in a day’s work – Q&A with Kimberley O’Neill

WHY I LOVETT:

Her first week on the job as a luxury charters manager involved cruising around the Whitsundays – and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

By ANN WASON MOORE

Kimberley O'Neill

HOW DID YOU GET THIS JOB?

I was living in Thailand and working for a medical company between Bangkok and Phuket. It was a good life but once my son finished school I figured it was time to come back to Australia and establish some roots. I saw this position advertised and applied and got it. That was eight months ago and I love it. Living on the Gold Coast is a dream, especially when you’re out on the water.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DAY LIKE?

It was incredible. I was sent up to Hamilton Island to cruise around the Whitsundays for a week. I never even set foot in the office. We’re sent to be guests so we understand what our clients will experience. Whenever I’m organising bookings and itineraries I put myself in the client’s shoes. What would I like if I were them? It’s a fun way to do your job too.

WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY?

It varies every day. I look after chartering our three superyachts; Patriot 1, Phoenix One and Atlantic Princess. One of them has a full original Versace interior, it’s incredible. It’s 105ft and costs $2500 per hour. My job is to show the boats to clients. I seal the deal but it’s not about talking or selling the product; it sells itself. There’s no convincing our clients. They find us and then we find them the yacht that is going to best suit them. We make their match.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOVED BOATING?

Always. I love sailing especially. I grew up on the water and was passionate about surfing. I was raised in Sydney but moved to the Gold Coast when I was 15. My family and I went boating all over the world. It’s in my blood.

DO YOU HAVE A BOAT?

No, and I don’t plan to either. After working around these superyachts all day I don’t think anything I had could compare.

WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?

This is really interesting. Our demographics have grown so much. Our corporate clients really vary now; we get a lot of small and medium-sized companies. Quite often they charter the boat for staff as an incentive. Then you’ve got the private clients who have been in boating and want to treat themselves.

For them it’s like booking a five-star hotel on holiday.

WHO IS THE BIGGEST NAME YOU HAVE BOOKED?

I can’t disclose names but some are amazing. The money even just private entities spend is incredible – $20,000 for a day or two is common. Geoff (Lovett) has been in the industry for ages and he’s had that many rock stars through, including the Rolling Stones. Working for him is such an incredible honour. What he doesn’t know about the industry isn’t worth knowing.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

The marine industry has had a rough time since the GFC but the tide is turning. Geoff could see what was happening and that’s how my position came about. With the Commonwealth Games on its way, there are only going to be more charter clients. We’re looking at more vessels now and have engaged architects to expand the fleet. There’s real consumer confidence around and our sales team are really looking up too.

MY BEST ADVICE:

“Love the life you live”