The future of the boating industry
Boat ownership peaked in the 80s and this is still the generation that owns most boats today (the baby-boomers or people in their 50s and 70s). Now, new research shows that boat ownership is in decline. For example, British Marine’s research revealed that there were 18 million people who wanted to go boating but only 4 million did. Why is this the case?
Generally speaking, boating has always been regarded as a pastime for the wealthy, regardless of whether or not you live close to the sea or any other large body of water. Combine high upfront costs to purchase boats with high running costs and, unless you’re committed to pursuing boating long-term, you probably won’t want to invest. When researchers looked further into the data collected by British Marine’s Futures report, they found some other interesting explanations…
The consumer mindset is evolving
British Marine’s research demonstrated that the leisure boating industry wasn’t meeting and fulfilling demand in the right ways. Millennials and the generations before them (generation X and Y) seek enriching and ‘Insta worthy’ experiences. The sharing economy has played a key role in introducing innovative but affordable leisure opportunities. This, combined with the current economic conditions, have supported the emergence of a more confident leisure consumer and a boom within the leisure market. Potentially great news for the leisure industry as a whole – provided that businesses harness the evolving market in the right way.
Our lifestyles are changing and the Futures Report has highlighted the impact that this is having on the boating marketplace and boating industry. Disposable income remains under pressure, technology is improving and younger generations have less desire to own expensive assets such as cars or boats. And with property prices, general cost of living and an increasingly accessible travel space, can we blame them? Consumers are exposed to an ever-increasing range of different leisure activities meaning that participation in only one or two hobbies, sports or outdoor events simply isn’t enticing enough. Social networks also have a huge influence on consumer choices.
What this means for the boating industry
Born into the digital age, generations Y – Z are looking for more short burst experiences that they can enjoy and share online with friends and family instantly. With less time, it’s all about what they do and experience as opposed to what they own. They want to just get out there and try it. They’ll adapt, learn and gain new skills as they go and possibly undertake more comprehensive training courses later. Current consumers seek instant gratification and lack the patience to break time and cost barriers like finding a boat and joining a boating club. What’s the solution for the boating industry?
Survival of the fittest: an evolving marketplace
To stay afloat, businesses operating within the boats industry need to adapt and behave differently to ensure that they remain relevant and appealing to today’s ever changing marketplace. The business solution needs to be easily accessible in order to successfully target the new consumer personas. For example, the ability to make online bookings with little more than a simple click of a button. Sailing and boating can appear both complex and confusing to the inexperienced consumers. If the boating tradition is to continue as we know it, it’s vital that it’s made accessible and affordable to the masses. This means options to have a go or be taken boating by a professional skipper that are affordable and can be enjoyed as a family, with friends or alone.
The time is now
Is boating on the brink of extinction? We don’t think so. We’ve spoken to hundreds of long-term boat owners. Most of them are either lucky and were born at a time when boat ownership was more ‘on trend’ or have a family that fostered this love from a young age. Successfully instilled, they built their lives (careers, choice of home, holidays and so on) around this hobby.
However much they love this watersport, of those fortunate enough to own a boat, some find that they don’t use their boats as much as they’d like to. This means that lots of boats rarely leave their marinas.
The idea behind ‘Onefinestay’ came from the moment that the founder walked down a residential street in London one evening and noticed that the majority of house windows were off. That is – no one was at home. How sad that such pleasant and sought after homes should go unused he thought….And voila, Onefinestay was born. It’s like a slightly posher Airbnb: houses, flats and rooms no longer sit empty. They’re used more often and the cost to keep them is reduced for their owners. Win, win really.
Given how logical these business models are and the crisis faced by fellow members of the boating community – we’ve decided to apply this approach to our own business model. Welcome to the Airbnb of boating. Borrow A Boat is an online platform designed to allow anyone to hire a boat, and for any boat owner to easily rent out their idle vessel.
Join the Borrow a Boat revolution today and see which part of the world your boating adventures will take you to…With 13,000 boats in more than 50 countries now listed, the team are now raising to expand marketing activities. You can view our current crowdfunding pitch here.