A few years ago, not many people had heard of the term “sharing economy”. Fast forward to 2018 and the sharing economy is in the news daily. What is this sharing economy? From the time we were in preschool we were taught to share. We were scolded to take turns on the playground, give one of our cookies to our sibling, and even give a scrap of our meat to the family dog. Sharing breeds compassion, kindness, and trust amongst family members, neighbors and citizens. It is this concept that has brought about an economic revolution.
In the traditional capitalist economic model, individuals own the goods. You need to buy a car to be able to drive to the airport. In order to keep your lawn looking nice, you have to buy a lawnmower. In a sharing economy, only a few individuals own the goods but other people can pay to ‘borrow’ them. For example, if you own a car that is not being used, why not earn some money by ‘sharing’ it with someone who needs a ride to the airport?
Starting in 2009 with the apartment-sharing website Airbnb, online companies have enabled complete strangers to pay one another for the use of goods or services such as office space, dog sitters, homes, grocery shoppers, tour guides, cars, and boats.
Americans own around 22 million recreational boats and use them on average of 11 days of the year. More and more people are purchasing boats and offsetting costs through charter and rental services, which provides individuals who don’t own their own boats the chance to have a boating experience. This is a highly effective way of “trying on” a hobby.
Companies like Boat Planet, connect boat owners with trusted and reviewed marine professionals, as well as local boat mechanics to make sure their boat is in good running shape. Boat owners can also connect with a boat detailer to make sure their boat looks good if it's going to be chartered.
For the industry as a whole, with so many options for obtaining boating information and chartering and renting, engagement is poised to continue rising. This company will connect a client with professional boaters as well as guidance in purchasing everything needed for a fantastic boating experience.
Another reason boating is becoming more popular is because of the creation of more boating experiences offered to the public. Rather than just rent boats out, companies are developing curated boat trips that allow non-boaters to get the full effect of taking a boat out to sea.
Take The Yacht Week, for example, a company that offers a series of sailing trips around the world and aims to provide the boating experience of a lifetime. Dubbed a “floating boutique festival,” it allows groups to get together for a boating experience led by experienced captains and tour operators, who sail from a selected destination and meet with other boaters for parties and various social activities.
In a Forbes article that described the massive success behind the Yacht Week business model, its CEO, William Wenkel, said, “We do everything right, from corporate structure to liability to legal due diligence. Sponsors go through our business and say, ‘Hmm, looks like you’re covered everywhere.” At the time, the business was expected to generate $12 million in sales by 2014. Similarly, the Sailing Collective aims to deliver unique sailing experiences. Its website states: “We are sailing travel specialists with curated itineraries worldwide.”
It’s unclear whether Airbnb, who currently dominates the home vacation industry, will eventually expand to boats. Currently, there are already quite a few boats on their website touted as “housing experiences,” however, they aren’t allowed to actually sail on their own. Given the potential, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for Airbnb to begin capitalizing on authentic boat live-aboard experiences.
Because boating is a much more complex endeavor than say, renting out a home, the right protection is what’s most important for all parties involved. Companies like BoatBound and Cruzin offer $3 million insurance packages (similarly, Airbnb offers home renters a $1 million insurance policy). In addition to the insurance policies offered, boat owners offer detailed information about using their boats and communicate extensively with renters about how to navigate similar models.
Boat sharing is a very niche field with a wealth of potential. Because of this, more and more companies are focusing on adding comprehensive insurance packages to ease the process for both owners and renters. This makes it not only enjoyable but safe.