Boatsetter recently announced that more than 50 percent of its customer base consists of Gen Xers and Millennials. The peer-to-peer boat sharing company claims it has gained traction with younger boaters who want to experience the lifestyle without investing in a major asset.
“We provide a new service in the boating industry, which brings together boat owners, boat captains and people who want to be out on the water and may not want to purchase a boat,” said Pablo Vidal, chief marketing officer of Boatsetter in a press release from the company. “We are now making the boating industry more available to the younger generations through our innovative platform.”
According to Boatsetter, the baby boomer generation is now the largest population of boat owners as there are twice as many owners over 60 years of age as there are less than 40 years of age.
Boatsetter and companies like it are the industry’s option as part of a growing sharing economy trends, similar to companies like Airbnb and Uber. Boat sharing companies have become huge with a younger generation that is often stifled by an inability to afford (or store, as many Millennials rent rather than own a house, another affordability issue) a large asset but still want to participate in the activity.
This trend doesn’t surprise me, considering how I have seen companies like Airbnb and Uber become the standard options among my fellow Millennials. Even my husband, who I often describe to others as a 65-year-old man in a 28-year-old’s body, said he planned to take an Uber to the airport next week. When I told him he could also call and schedule a taxi ahead of time, he looked annoyed and said “Yeah, I guess I could do that.”
So of course young people who grew up on boats and cannot afford them are taking advantage of a sharing model. However, we as an industry do not need to be afraid of this trend. Millennials are using Airbnb, but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy their own houses when they can afford it.
The sharing economy provides a transition for these younger people to make activities like boating part of their lives now so they will prioritize it later. If we don’t have sharing options in our industry, boating will appear to be an unattainable, expensive activity that Millennials and Gen Xers might not even consider once they do finally have the earning power to afford their own boat.
Because of the internet and the ease of connecting and networking Baby Boomers to the Gen Xers the boat renting industry has definitely evolved from that shanty boat renting facility with half working boats to a more personal, professional trusting experience. This is only newly avalible becauce of the relationship building and comunication tools companies like boatsetter and my company RentaBoat.com are offering to assist and build a trusting connection between the Baby Boomer boat owners and Gen Xer who want to be renters not owners yet. Insurance companies are also starting to profit from this newly recognized opportunity of peer to peer rentals by offering insurance riders and additional insured policies to the renters to who want coverage. I have been in the boat renting industry for years renting runabout boats out of my own marina and starting one of the first peer to peer rental websites BoatRenting.com. It’s nice to see the peer to peer boat renting idea taking off in part to of course AirBnB.