Brunswick enters boat club/boat rental arena

Thu Oct 11 2018, 13:05 PM

OnBoard Boating Club and Rentals is a turnkey program targeted at boat dealers and marinas

Following a two-year pilot program in select markets across the US, Brunswick Corp’s Boating Service Network has launched OnBoard Boating Club and Rentals, a turnkey program targeted at boat dealers and marinas allowing easy entry into the growing, so-called ‘share lifestyle’ market segment.

“We see this as a great business model to participate in,” Boating Service Network (BSN) vice president Cecil Cohn told IBI. “The market is much broader [then is currently being served] and has the ability to become much, much, larger,” he said.

Participating marinas and dealers will license the OnBoard brand and have access to a diverse fleet of well-known boat brands, financing for the rental fleet, operational software – including on-line reservations and an array of marketing and other business tools.

“In the past, we’ve been helping dealers deliver a superior purchase experience, primarily for new boat sales,” Cohn said in an interview. “But as we look to the future we want to migrate upstream to help grow the next generation of boaters, and OnBoard Boating Club and Rentals is our first major initiative in that space.”

As exemplified by companies like Uber, Citi Bike and AirBNB, ‘share lifestyle’ services have been growing in major urban areas in the US, and expanding geographically driven by the so-called millennial generation.

“Millennials and younger generations value experience over ownership, and we believe they will come to value ownership as well. So, this is an opportunity to give them access and a gateway to the boating lifestyle and provides an opportunity over time produce the next generation,” Cohn said, adding that target demographics will change with each market, citing both retirees – perhaps former boaters – looking for the boating experience without the hassle and current boaters who may own one style of vessel, but desire access to an array of boating options.

Cohn told IBI that OnBoard Boat Club and Rental launched with nearly 25 locations – primarily Suntex Marinas which participated in the pilot program – and ultimately believe 100 to 150 locations are necessary for a nationwide footprint. Rather than target an annual number of dealer participants, the initial push to find 'quality over quantity'.

“We are far more interested in finding ‘priority partners’ that are interested in providing a really premium customer experience,” Cohn said.

Designed to provide an additional revenue stream and a minimum cost of entry for dealers, the program is shaped to use a dealerships existing infrastructure and personnel, while Brunswick will realise revenue from the licensing of dealers along with the sale and financing of a rental fleet.

The program will be marketed this winter to dealers in the US and Canada.