All potential renters go through a vetting process. Every boat gets checked out before it is listed, and for boats over 10 years there may be additional underwriting requirements, Boatbound says. And if something should go wrong, Boatbound carries Lloyd’s of London insurance — $1 million for liability and $2 million for hull.
South Florida rentals with Boatbound have typically ranged from about $200 to $8,500 day, Hall said. On a recent day, there were several 21-foot power boats listed for around $400 for a day, a bit less than a sampling of rental companies. The owner sets the pricing and selects the renter from among the requests. Boatbound’s cut is 35 percent, which covers insurance, on-water support and concierge services, Hall said.
On a recent Friday, Matias Aguirre of Miami rented his 21-foot Cobia for the first time. He said he was comfortable doing so because Boatbound is fully insured. He also liked that he could (and did) check out the full profile of the potential renter on Boatbound.co and talk to him before making any deal. Aguirre now hopes to rent out his boat a couple times a month: “I had a great experience.”
Hall, who started several other companies including most recently a wedding-related marketplace, said Boatbound had been focusing its marketing more heavily on San Francisco and New York this summer but will be revving up its sales push in South Florida before the winter tourist season gets underway. Late last month, Hall was still setting up Boatbound’s small office at Rickenbacker Marina and had just unleashed a referral promotion. He said he will be initially staffing the office with several employees, including Spanish speakers, growing to a dozen people or more to attack this market.
“Because the collaborative economy is already mainstream in a lot of areas, we immediately saw trust and buy-in. We’ve had yachts that go all the way up to $14,000 a day,” Hall said. “Owners are already comfortable with the business model. They know the renters have to take care of the boat if they ever want to rent on Boatbound.co again. Both parties work toward that five-star rating.”
Up the coast at Harbour Towne Marina in Dania Beach, Cruzin.com has about 30 boats listed in South Florida and several hundred nationally, said CEO Jaclyn Baumgarten, speaking by phone from her San Francisco office, where she spends half her time.
“While our service offering is similar [to the competition] ... we took very special care to partner with the larger industry players to make sure that we are growing this for the long haul and we are growing it properly to meet the needs of boaters and the boating industry,” said Baumgarten, an entrepreneur with a background in business planning and strategic consulting. Among Cruzin’s partners are Westrec Marinas, owner of Harbour Towne and many other marinas; Singleton Marine Group, which is making new boats available on Cruzin.com, and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
She said Cruzin learned a lot during its pilot program, including increasing the vetting of the potential renters. Now that includes credit and fraud checks and renters must have at least two years of boating experience. Cruzin’s cut is 40 percent of the rental for the service, which includes full insurance, marketing/screening and towing service through BoatUS.