Idea turns boats into online moneymakers

Bowrider Boats

sport, fishing-and-boating, boating, ROthfield, book, online, Book My Boat, Mark, hire, Lloyd

My old man’s favourite meal was always one that someone else cooked, so the best boat might well be one that someone else has paid for. To give an example, Sydneysider Tim bought a Bar Crusher fishing runabout for $80,000 and has since rented it out 120 times and paid off half the cost. Jessica, a Sydney mum, is in the same boat, so to speak – she bought a second-hand, plate-alloy Formosa bowrider for $60k earlier this year and is potentially raking in $15,000 a month. The secret is the online booking platform Book My Boat, which is kind of like the Camplify or Airbnb of boats. The founder and managing director of Book My Boat, Matthew Lloyd, says he created the country’s first peer-to-peer recreational boat hire marketplace because boats can be one of the most expensive, yet underused, items you own. “Not many people in the cities have a quarter-acre block where they can store a boat in their backyard. Space is at a premium and, for most, owning a boat is just not attainable,” Lloyd adds. “The most fun I’ve had with my family is on the water, so I thought ‘how do we make boating accessible to everyone’.” Lloyd has a 25-year boating background, including several years as an operations manager for Sydney Ferries. He saw and seized an opening back in 2017 when the national regulatory framework was introduced, opening the door for the peer-to-peer boat hire model. Before that, there were strict commercial survey hoops that self-drive hire and charter boats had to jump through. IN THE NEWS: With international borders remaining closed, and holidaymakers preferring to book experiences closer to home, interest has risen dramatically during the past 18 months. The company has 250 boat owners signed up to the platform, with over 1100 rental customers, and is operating across NSW and Queensland. “We are seeing a 350 per cent, three-month rolling average increase in users. Comparing numbers with last year, we’re up 90 per cent,” Lloyd adds. For those who don’t use their boats regularly, and aren’t too fussy about who’s behind the wheel, the hire model does make financial sense. The Bar Crusher mentioned above has a daily hire rate of $545, the Formosa is $550, and there are tax benefits. In 2020, new and used boat sales rose to represent 32 per cent of the marine industry, with over 10,000 new vessel registrations recorded. However, the National Maritime Manufacturers Association (NMMA) estimates that owners use their boats only 28 days a year. That translates to 308 million days of idle boating capacity that Book My Boat can potentially turn into pay days. “There are 2.5 million boat licence holders in Australia compared to 915,000 registered boats, and over 90 per cent of recreational boats are under 8 metres in length, which is our target market due to their suitability for hire and drive operations,” Lloyd adds. Book My Boat charges a 26 per cent commission on bookings and handles the back end for lessors and renters, including payments, bonds and hire procedures. Comprehensive insurance is provided to both boat owners and customers. At this stage there aren’t many boats available to hire in our region – just a 3.7-metre Stessl tinnie at Lake Macquarie and a Beneteau Swift Trawler at Port Stephens that’s already part of a boat-share program. The company recently launched an equity crowdfunding campaign to include keen boaties as investors. Lloyd expects investment opportunities to arise from within the industry, in the same way that Hyundai and Caltex invested in Car Next Door and Apollo Motorhomes invested in Camplify, which went public in June. National trailerboat hire company Boab Boats has already invested in Book My Boat and there’s plenty of its boats listed on the website. See Gone are the days you could have your Yamaha outboard in any colour you want, as long as it was gunmetal grey. The Japanese manufacturer has added pearlescent white versions of the F50, F70 and F90 to its line-up, the new livery having first been seen on the flagship 425 XTO Offshore launched here in 2019. It reappeared on a range of models launched earlier this year, including the four-cylinder F115 and F150 and the V6 F200, F250 and F300. Yammie’s 50hp to 90hp outboards are the sweet spot for the recreational market, being suitable for aluminium and fibreglass boats ranging from 4.2 metres to 5.2 metres. On larger engines the white paint is apparently a $1600 option, but budget-sensitive buyers looking at the four-cylinder, four-stroke F50-F90 models might balk at that. The again, maybe not: “We are seeing strong growth across the industry in the average spend on boating packages as boaters increasingly demand the latest hull, engine, boating control and display technologies,” Yamaha Marine national sales and marketing manager Grant Binskin says. “This drive for personalisation and customisation extends to aesthetics, with more and more buyers requesting painted or wrapped hulls, to express their individual styles and tastes. “Yamaha has come on board with this trend by allowing boaties to mix and match their outboard with their hull with the release of our pearlescent white outboards.” Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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