Brunswick Corp. has partnered with peer-to-peer boat company Boatbound in its effort to tap the company’s younger demographic, helping to validate the relatively new model in the industry, which allows boat owners to rent their vessels to non-owners.
“The credibility of Brunswick, they touch almost everything within the boating space,” Boatbound founder Aaron Hall told Trade Only Today. “They’ve built a reputation of integrity and quality, so them putting their muscle behind us to increase awareness, and also their belief that Boatbound will change the industry for the better, in general, is exciting.”
The partnership covers everything in the Brunswick world, Hall said. Boatbound is giving special access to members of the owners clubs of brands that include Brunswick’s Sea Ray, Bayliner and Boston Whaler, as well as to dealers.
Boatbound reaches a younger demographic, a point that Brunswick leaders noted.
Right now, about 75 percent of all rentals are by people 45 years of age and younger, and half of all rentals are to people 35 and younger, Hall said. “I think that was a real factor in them making the decision to get on board.”
With several companies operating in the peer-to-peer space, Brunswick spokesman Daniel Kubera told Trade Only that the company selected Boatbound for the partnership because it was a leader there.
“They have put together a skilled team that is passionate about helping more people experience boating — something we think is very important to the health of the industry,” Kubera told Trade Only in an email. “They are very customer-focused and are counting on winning through making sure owners and renters have a great experience — very aligned with how our brands think about things.”
The company also liked Boatbound’s growth plan, as well as its network of investors and advisers, Kubera said.
Boatbound is looking to announce additional partnerships this spring and summer, Hall said. “Over the next 60 days, probably every two weeks, we will announce another major industry player that’s jumped on board.”
The company expects to have grown its reach of 15,000 to 20,000 boaters last summer to between 1 million and 3 million this summer, Hall said.
In the near term it will look at five key markets to begin the rollout with Brunswick — New York, Chicago, Seattle, South Florida and the Great Lakes, Hall said.
“For Boatbound, the really exciting part is the validation,” Sara Morgan, who handles the company’s public relations, told Trade Only.
Just last June, when Hall approached her with his idea, Morgan said the industry believed that the model would be “a flash in the pan.” Now manufacturers are starting to see the benefits for sales, as well as for dealers.
The partnership will give Brunswick dealers the ability to list boats and inventory on Boatbound’s website, Hall said. That not only helps them pay for inventory that has not been sold, but it also helps tap a new pool of potential customers. The model becomes a selling point for potential buyers who hesitate because they believe the cost of ownership is too high.
“Renting your boat once or twice a month on Boatbound can really offset the cost of ownership,” Hall said. “What we’ve seen already happening as we make boats more accessible is if people are not quite sure they wanted to make the jump into boat ownership, we’ve seen people who rented a boat once or twice and then decided to buy. That experience helped them to get into the boat, as well as the understanding they could rent the boat once or twice and cover costs enough to make [payments] manageable. It’s going to be driving new people into the ecosystem.”
And Boatbound has worked hard to dispel any perception that renting a boatis better than owning, Hall says.
“We look at ownership as an important piece of our marketplace,” Hall said. “I believe [this makes ownership] easier and more affordable than ever, and I think that we’re going to drive more people into ownership. Even if you can’t use a boat in winter, in the summer months you can offset the costs of owning the boat all year long.”