#17 - Boat Sharing

Boat Sharing: Click-and-Go Boating

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Boat sharing turns a vessel into a rental asset (Courtesy of Cobaturage)

A boat is usually the second most expensive family asset after the home. Yet most are used only a few weeks annually, lying idle the rest of the year while the maintenance bills roll in. Boat sharing can mitigate these costs by turning the vessel into a rental asset, even if it never leaves the dock.

 

Click&Boat, founded by a couple of French computer contractors, offers a way to offset boat ownership costs. According to the company, very few of the million boats in France are used for more than 10 days a year. Maintenance, insurance and mooring fees can make boat ownership very expensive. They cost owners an average of 10% of the price of the boat each year.

For renters who aren’t sailors, the system provides a new type of accommodation, often in an exotic location. Rubbing shoulders with billionaires on the Costa Smeralda or nestling against the old town quay in Nice while paying a pittance is the lure dangled by a raft of internet start-ups featuring peer-to-peer service.

The schemes vary. For example, Antlos takes a more holistic approach, encouraging renters to learn to sail.

“We believe there are around seven million suitable boats globally, so our initial dream of introducing one million new beds into the global tourism market is possible,” says Beds on Board co-founder Tim Ludlow. The company offers boats as floating rooms with no seagoing activities.

The schemes vary. For example, Antlos takes a more holistic approach, encouraging renters to learn to sail. Others, such as SamBoat, are forging tactical partnerships for rapid growth. “We’re building partnerships with important French shipyards and just signed an agreement with Dream Yacht Charter, the world’s biggest charter operator,” co-founder Laurent Calando told NauticExpo e-magazine. Competitor Click&Boat features more than 20,000 private yachts and estimates average owner earnings of  €2000 per year. They recruit Yacht Managers to arrange handovers.

How it Works

Most operations allow owners to deal directly with renters through a third-party application. Many offer a feedback option similar to Uber’s star rating. Platforms such as Zizoo do not charge owners to list their boats. Instead, they charge charter operators a percentage of the rental fee, typically 12-15%.

Bed on Boards offers boats as floating rooms (Courtesy of Bed on Boards)

The Beds on Board Message Center gives renters the ability to chat with the owner, a handy way to ask how to switch on a pump, for example. Others, such as France’s Trip’n boat, use a car-pooling model. Available places are listed on its website.

Antlos advertises a wide range of accommodations—cabins, suites or entire boats. The company, which recently relocated to London from Italy, also lists shared cabins for solo travelers wanting to mix with others. “At this stage, we’re targeting boat owners in the Mediterranean and Caribbean who are the captains of their own boats and willing to host holiday makers,” CEO Michelangelo Ravagnan told NauticExpo e-magazine.

He created the platform because of the huge potential. “Our target market is coastal and maritime tourism involving 650 million travelers every year and a global turnover of $200 billion.” Accommodations vary from basic—a 30-foot monohull—to a lavish 60-foot catamaran.

Location is another variable. Many marinas are in undesirable spots, while others are in the heart of a major city—Nice, Cannes or Barcelona. Future offers may include complimentary membership in the nearest yacht club, an excellent way to give non-boaters a glimpse into this sometimes rarefied world.

Click&Boat offers a way to offset boat ownership costs (Courtesy of Click&Boat)

Zizoo’s partnerships with charter companies give it one of the most varied listings. The more than 11,000 vessels include power and sailing catamarans and monohulls, and even traditional Turkish Gulets. “With a rapidly growing inventory, team and tech innovations, Zizoo aims to target even more users through [geographical expansion],” CEO and co-founder Anna Banicevic told us.

Challenges

Dealing with varying regulations around the world is crucial to growth. The future also may include paying environmental levies for marina usage and the increased sewage.

Accommodations vary from basic—a 30-foot monohull—to a lavish 60-foot catamaran.

In addition, some countries require boating licenses and insurance of the vessel for accommodation purposes. Some companies insist on walk-on access, while others include boats on moorings. Renters may need a sense of adventure to book a racing boat with jagged edges and lines to snag the unwary visitor. Others might want to experience the charm of an old wooden fishing smack.

Are production boat builders ready to take the plunge? Fountaine Pajot recently bought a majority share in Dream Yacht Charter. Another indicator is the Beneteau Boat Club, launched in 2017. Membership plans offer access to power boats in France and Spain. Beneteau is the world’s largest recreational boat builder, with partnerships throughout the charter world. Its club may be extended to the Italian and British coasts, and to other continents.

About the Author

Kevin Green is a Sydney-based yachting journalist who contributes to international boating publications.

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