Many companies are trying to bring the peer-to-peer economy to the boating industry, but Boatbound looks to be getting a leg up on the competition with two new partnerships.
This spring, Boatbound has signed deals with both Brunswick Corp. and Dominion Marine Media, owner of BoatTrader, boats.com and YachtWorld.
Brunswick also invested an undisclosed amount of money in the company as part of the collaboration. Brunswick sees the peer-to-peer market as a potential way to bring new boaters into the market.
“We’ve got a belief that in order for the category to continue to thrive, we’re going to have to find more affordable ways to get people on the water,” said Jeff Behan, Brunswick’s vice president of strategy and business development.
The peer-to-peer model appeals to a younger and more diverse client base, two important demographics for the industry. Brunswick has talked to many of the companies entering the peer-to-peer boating market, but decided to partner with Boatbound because the companies have a similar philosophy.
What is ‘peer-to-peer’?
Also often referred to as the “sharing economy,” peer-to-peer rentals are exactly what they sound like: the renting of an item (in this case a boat) from the owner to someone else. Companies like Boatbound, Cruzin, Fun2Rent and others are counting on the fact that boats sit unused for most of the year and owner will be looking to make money by renting them to users. By offering insurance, renter screening and other protection, the companies attempt to take the risk out of the process.
Working with Boatbound will help Brunswick find out about this next generation of potential boat buyers, information that can help in product development, marketing and more.
“As this grows and builds, they’re going to have access to a lot of insight on consumer behavior, from rental patterns to demographics,” Behan said. “This is a great way for us to keep up with what’s going on day-to-day with consumer behavior and renting trends, such as the types of boats they’re interested in.”
While some dealers see boat rentals as competition to boat sales, Brunswick also sees potential benefits for its dealers, both short and long term.
“This may over time help more people get into boating and therefore ultimately want to buy a boat at some point, want services, want to get more involved in the boating lifestyle,” Behan said. “Downstream, that translates into customers for our dealers — an increase in participation that will drive more boaters and boat purchasers.”
More immediately, dealers will also have the opportunity to list their used boat inventory on the Boatbound.co website if they choose and generate income that way, Behan said.
Boatbound will also get more exposure through the new partnership with Dominion, whose sites draw nearly 5 million unique monthly visitors. Dominion’s network of brokers and dealers will now be able to leverage Boatbound as a sales tool, offering buyers the ability to offset financial costs associated with a boat purchase, resulting in an easier purchase decision, said Aaron Hall, Boatbound’s founder and CEO.
“Our common goal through these partnerships is to change people’s thinking about boat ownership,” Hall said. “We believe that through Boatbound, boats will soon be considered assets such as owning a vacation rental property.”
Like Brunswick, Dominion believes the service will help expand the market by making it more accessible.
“We have been watching the emergence of the sharing economy in boating and are excited to see the concept gaining traction through Boatbound,” said Ian Atkins, senior vice president and general manager of Dominion Marine Media. “Not only is it in the best interests of all our customers, we also enjoy seeing more people than ever getting excited about the boating lifestyle.”