IBEX 2015: Boat rentals can contribute to long-term ownership

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Can non-traditional boat-ownership businesses benefit the industry as a whole, even when ownership is not a part of the business?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Can non-traditional boat-ownership businesses benefit the industry as a whole, even when ownership is not a part of the business? Yes, they can, say members of a panel that discussed alternatives to ownership at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference on Tuesday.

Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO of peer-to-peer boat rental company Cruzin, said its business model, in which a boat owner rents directly to another boater, contributes to the long-term goal of boat ownership by making boating accessible and affordable to a greater number of people.

Peer-to-peer rentals allow people to get into boating and stay in it, she said. “[For us] it’s about a higher number of people being exposed to boating. If people are exposed and have a positive experience, they will become boat owners.”

Freedom Boat Club president and CEO John Giglio expressed a similar sentiment, saying boaters who spend time on the water will become owners.

Freedom Boat Club operates under a different business model than Cruzin’s and other companies in the peer-to-peer market. It offers membership in a club and charges monthly fees in exchange for unlimited boating on club boats. Yet Giglio’s message was the essentially the same.

“People that come here and have a positive experience on the water become boaters,” he said. “We incubate this segment of the market to become boat owners.”

Carl Blackwell, president of Grow Boating/Discover Boating and chief marketing officer of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, moderated five industry professionals (including Baumgarten and Giglio) during Tuesday’s “The Sharing Economy: How Alternate Boat Ownership Models Can Positively Impact the Marine Industry” seminar.

“As these models become more and more common, I feel we should start off by calling this ‘Additional Boat Ownership Models,’ as it’s no longer alternative,” Blackwell said.

Peer-to-peer businesses are a $15 billion industry and are estimated to expand to a $335 billion industry by 2025, he said.

Panel members also included Chris Oetting, director of business development at Boatbound; Todd Hess, CEO and president of Sailtime; and Andy Sturner, chairman and CEO of Collaborative Boating Inc.

Sturner and Baumgarten said at the seminar that Cruzin and Sturner’s peer-to-peer company Boatsetter have merged.

Oetting, a member of the under-35 Marine Millennials group, addressed the importance of peer-to-peer businesses for Generation X and younger boaters.

“Boating is a lifestyle we think everyone should have the opportunity to experience,” the 30-year-old said. “Boatbound emphasizes access over ownership, but the model also helps boat owners monetize their assets in new ways.”

The benefits of each of the alternative methods extend to marinas — with increased revenue in fuel sales and other marina products — and even dealers, manufacturers and marine insurers as these new companies develop partnerships and collaborations in the industry, Sturner said.

The panel discussion was part of IBEX’s Seminar Series, 55 seminars organized by Professional BoatBuilder Magazine and produced by Professional BoatBuilder, the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association, the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the National Marine Electronics Association.

The seminars follow six tracks: Boatyard and Marine Operations; Composite Methods and Materials; Design and Engineering; Manufacturing Management and Policy; Marine Electrical Systems; and Onboard Systems.

Professional continuing education units are available to those who attend and participate in the IBEX seminars.

IBEX continues today and Thursday at the Kentucky Exposition Center.


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