mycrewagency. unveils the Recruitment Retainer Fee model

Founded in 2017 by Michael di Luca, the superyacht crew recruitment company mycrewagency., burst onto the scene and introduced a new mentality to the sector. Focusing his energies on training his staff and ensuring his team were qualified via the Recruitment Employment Confederation, Michael utilised his experience working within the highly regulated investment banking sector and upped the game in terms of professionality within crew recruitment. Over the past six years, the company has gone from strength to strength, now with the largest social media following in the sector. In January the company unveiled its new Retainer Fee Model, so we sat down with Michael to understand how it works, how boats benefit and why he thinks it's going to be the next big step for the superyacht recruitment industry. Michael di Luca, founder of MycrewagencyThe time for change

Like many sectors within yachting, the structure of crew recruitment has remained unchanged for years, with the majority of players working under a Contingency-based Fee Model. Within that structure, once a recruiter has successfully positioned a member of crew aboard a yacht, they invoice for their services and if that crew member then leaves after the free replacement period (usually 2-3 months), the process begins again. Discussing this structure with captains and management teams, mycrewagency. found that this replacement period was not sufficient, because if a crew member leaves after the very short replacement period offered by contingent recruiters, they have to pay again making the process very expensive. For Michael and the team at mycrewagency., this structure places the interests of the recruiter and the vessel at odds, he explains;

“To me, the traditional contingency-based model offers a direct conflict of interest between the recruiter and their client; the captain or yacht owner, because the recruiter is financially incentivised for the boat to have a higher turnover of crew. The yacht on the other hand is incentivised, and wants to have a small crew turnover. The idea that we get paid more for more crew churn, has always been misaligned with the goal of the role, and so we wanted to create a new model that builds closer relationships and partnerships between our agency and the yachts, and is ultimately more fitting to the needs of superyacht employers and owners.” Mycrewagency, crew shotsThrough the qualifications with the Recruitment Employment Confederation, the team were made aware of other different fee structures, one of which being a retainer fee. While Michael felt a new structure could be of value to yachts and help to build trust with captains, the team decided to first sit down with their clients to understand the main pain points of crew recruitment from their perspective.

Over the course of Q4 2023, mycrewagency. sat down with over 100 captains and management teams to discuss those pain points, and to discuss whether they thought the new fee structure could help eliminate their biggest concerns and issues. “Since we began the company in 2017, there have been no noticeable developments in crew recruitment across the board. Our conversations with stakeholders showed us that there was both a gap in the market for a new structure, but also that they were very interested in moving away from the traditional fee offering.”Mycrewagency, crew shotsSo, what does the Retainer Fee Structure offer and how does it work?

In short, the Retainer Recruitment Fee is a set fee paid on an annual basis for yachts above 40 metres and, among a number of advantages offers;

• Unlimited hires; unlimited free replacements; unlimited certificate checks; unlimited reference checks whenever and wherever they are needed. 

• In addition, the structure can save employers between 40-60% on their annual recruitment spend and is a one-off annual fee. 

• Allows employers and yacht managers to accurately forecast the entire annual years recruitment costs, and avoids expensive ad-hoc recruitment costs.

• One point of contact for recruitment specific consultation on all recruitment related matters including the movement in industry salaries and employment packages.

• Annual report tracking and mapping the vessels recruitment patterns.

• The package also includes a clause that if the annual retainer fee is not fulfilled, mycrewagency. will calculate a fee per placement on a contingency fee basis, and the remainder will be issued as a credit note.

“We set out with the goal to become more transparent and save boats money,” explains Michael, "and I believe that in order to bring something new to market, it needs to be significantly better than what is currently offered, not just a little bit better. It is also important to ensure that the interests of both the recruiter and the employer are fully aligned, with both parties benefiting from a reduced crew turnover, unlike the contingency model. I think that is what we’ve created with the Retainer Fee Structure, and the response from clients is already demonstrating we are on the right track.”

Since launching the structure at the start of this year, the agency has already signed up two major management teams and a number of individual yachts, and due to demand they have created a secondary lower fee structure for yachts under 40 metres. In addition, the mycrewagency. team has just moved into a larger 30 person office to accommodate the increased demand for their services.

Mycrewagency, crew shotsSharing his perspective on the new fee structure, Captain Rafael Cervantes Mataix of a 100 metre-plus superyacht commented, “We have worked with mycrewagency. to place a number of crew in the past. They take time to understand what we are looking for and therefore are able to streamline the process and share a limited number of high quality applicants, which is very efficient for us. When they told us about the Recruitment Retainer Fee, we decided to learn more about it and I believe it will bring a lot of benefits, particular when it comes to transparent budgeting and planning. Now I am able to make a very clear annual proposal and I think that will have a broad appeal for other yachts in the global fleet.”

To find out more details about the Retainer Fee Model and how mycrewagency. can improve the recruitment process for your yacht, reach out to the team now at;


T: +44 (0) 203 6422 651

[email protected]