10 years. Hard to believe.
It’s been ten wild, where-did-they-go? years since Joe and I launched our version of Free Spirit Yacht Cruises.
The company was originally founded by Joe’s parents in 1983 and was thriving. Joe worked there for eighteen years as a captain. But his parents were retiring, and we had our own plans.
Our first plan was to get married. As it turns out, that was a great decision! Right, Joe (wink, wink)? Next, we would buy the company.
Joe and I work well together and our backgrounds and skill sets complement one another — important because even though we both had a lot experience in the yacht charter industry, we were basically building a new company.
Our Free Spirit Yacht Cruises Journey
One particularly challenging issue – the year we launched followed on the heels of the Great Recession. Yacht charters were not exactly high on the list of necessities. People who had lost jobs were thinking about finding new ones and putting food on the table. Marketing yacht charters would require a lot of energy, creative marketing and patience.
Fortunately, Joe and I both like a challenge. We didn’t let the economy deter us. Chicagoans love summer and Free Spirit Yacht Charters is a service that our clients love.
So we put one foot in front of the other (in deck shoes) and moved ahead. We did some redesigns on both the Free Spirit and the Gypsy Spirit. New finishes. New furniture. Lots of paint. And lots of elbow grease.
Meanwhile, we ramped up the catering, adding themed buffets and premium bar options and bringing in topnotch catering companies. We wrote a marketing plan and implemented it. Joe and I hired experts to help us in areas where we needed assistance.
At the same time, we went out and introduced ourselves to concierges and hotel managers. We joined a few chambers and did some networking (Joe was always the guy in the Hawaiian shirt, summer or winter). We passed out lots of cards and brochures and redesigned our website. A lot of work but well worth the effort.
Today we are the proud owners of a company we love. And we get to spend every April through October out on Lake Michigan. Pretty sweet deal if you ask us!
So even though we’ll occasionally join in the Chicago sport of complaining about the cold, we know it’s just a matter of time before our yachts are back in Burnham Harbor.
We’re looking forward to the 2017 yachting season. We’ve already nailed down dates for some upcoming events. Merlot and Massage Cruise, anyone? Yacht yoga? Fireworks cruises? Never too early to sign up for these.
We’re excited about getting back on the water and hope to see you on an upcoming charter for your company meeting, client appreciation cruise, family party, wedding, shower, anniversary……you name it….if you’re celebrating an event or entertaining clients, we hope you’ll do it on a Free Spirit luxury yacht.
Merlot and Massage Cruise
Free Spirit Yacht Cruises is already booking charter cruises well into 2017, so don’t wait too long if you’ve got specific dates in mind.