The pay, play and rate mar­ket

Yachting World - - Front Page -

The plethora of start-ups in this sec­tor are founded on the same no­tion: that boat­ing is too ex­pen­sive and has a rep­u­ta­tion of serv­ing only the wealthy. Th­ese ac­com­mo­da­tion/rental/shar­ing schemes are de­vised to help open up the avail­abil­ity and at­trac­tive­ness of boat­ing and of­fer po­ten­tial in­come to ex­ist­ing boat own­ers.

The ma­rine in­dus­try in gen­eral is in­creas­ingly un­der threat from a de­clin­ing num­ber of boat buy­ers. It is well doc­u­mented that, while the baby boomer gen­er­a­tion may still be buy­ing, and buy­ing in­creas­ingly larger yachts, such own­ers are not be­ing re­placed.

When it comes to boats, cars, houses or phones, the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion (those born be­tween 1981 and 2000) is less likely to buy any­thing. In­stead they seek in­stant ser­vices, quick thrills and the abil­ity to share their ex­pe­ri­ences eas­ily – an econ­omy that has ex­ploded thanks to ser­vices such as Airbnb and Uber.

“There is a whole new gen­er­a­tion who wouldn’t think of buy­ing a boat, but they are us­ing the shar­ing econ­omy all the time and are hun­gry for new ex­pe­ri­ences,” ex­plains Matt Oven­den, founder of Bor­row a Boat, one of the rapidly grow­ing peer-to-peer (P2P) rental plat­forms. Ex­pe­ri­ences, he says, are the new own­er­ship.

Th­ese new ma­rine-based rental sites use sim­i­lar mar­ket­place plat­forms to Airbnb, in that they list boats avail­able in a va­ri­ety of lo­ca­tions to­gether with prices and fil­ters to nar­row your search.

The renter then con­tacts the boat owner through the site to ar­range the terms and de­tails and can soon be stay­ing aboard or sail­ing a dif­fer­ent boat in dif­fer­ent wa­ters ev­ery trip or hol­i­day. They use book­ing pro­cesses that are quick, in­ter­ac­tive and fa­mil­iar to the dig­i­tal gen­er­a­tion.

It’s the boat owner’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­sure the craft for this pur­pose and to code it ac­cord­ing to their coun­try’s reg­u­la­tions. As with Airbnb, a con­tract is agreed di­rectly be­tween the boat owner and the renter, us­ing the plat­form as the medium.

And in a sim­i­lar way to the search en­gines and web­sites we have be­come ac­cus­tomed to re­ly­ing on, such as Ama­zon, Tri­pad­vi­sor and book­, rat­ings and re­views are also a key cri­te­rion to th­ese com­mu­nity mar­ket­places.

Alex Kat­somitros, from Click&boat, one of the largest new P2P boat­ing plat­forms, es­ti­mates this form of rental is up to 35% cheaper than tra­di­tional yacht char­ter.

“P2P boat­ing turns what used to be a main­stream, run-of-the-mill tourism ser­vice into a per­son­alised ex­pe­ri­ence with a whiff of ad­ven­ture and orig­i­nal­ity,” he main­tains.

Boataffair’s founder, Adrian Walker, de­scribes the trend as an ‘ex­pe­ri­ence econ­omy’. “That’s what mil­len­ni­als are look­ing for. They are not nec­es­sar­ily even rent­ing, but they want to share their ex­pe­ri­ences, to have a fan­tas­tic time with friends or fam­ily.”

Their com­pa­nies of­fer tan­gi­ble ap­peal to the masses who con­sider boat­ing to be too ex­pen­sive, elit­ist or too dif­fi­cult.

“The new gen­er­a­tion of own­ers is very dif­fer­ent,” Beneteau’s gen­eral man­ager Gian­guido Girotti agrees. “They are used to buy­ing ev­ery­thing on­line. So boat clubs, char­ter and frac­tional own­er­ship are very im­por­tant.” Groupe Beneteau, of­ten seen as lead­ing the way in the pro­duc­tion yacht sec­tor, re­cently pur­chased Band of Boats, a char­ter and com­mu­nity plat­form of­fer­ing boats to suit all lev­els of bud­gets. So what’s on of­fer? We’ve bro­ken down this plethora of new ma­rine mar­ket­place com­pa­nies into four sec­tors.

Peer-to-peer rental sites like Get­my­boat use fa­mil­iar web and app plat­forms that make it easy to fil­ter and search

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