Boatsetter is a peer-to-peer boat rental company. It works similarly to Airbnb, but instead of homes, it revolves around boats of all types, from cruisers to fishing boats, to yachts.
Available in 2,100 waterways worldwide, Boatsetter is at the forefront of the boat-sharing economy. And that leaves many wondering, how does Boatsetter make money?
Below, we’ll explain exactly how Boatsetter makes its profits. Then we’ll cover what is, perhaps, the more important topic—how you can make money with Boatsetter.
How Boatsetter Makes Money
Boatsetter doesn’t charge listing fees, so boat owners can list their boats on the site completely free of charge.
However, Boatsetter does charge booking fees to the boat owner each time someone rents their boat. The booking fees are 35%.
That sounds a little steep at first, especially compared to other peer-to-peer boat rental services like GetMyBoat, which only charges 8.5%. But, Boatsetter has good reason to charge a premium.
Why Boatsetter Charges More
Unlike other boat-sharing sites, Boatsetter includes insurance and on-the-water help with every boat rental through Geico Marine and TowBoatUS, respectively. So, the majority of the 35% booking fee goes towards providing insurance. Only 10% goes back to Boatsetter, which is how the company makes its money.
Providing insurance is one of the major ways Boatsetter separates itself from other companies, and it makes them a favorite amongst boat owners and renters.
With other sites, owners have to figure out rental insurance on their own, which can quickly become a hassle.
During standard charter service, the boat operator, usually a captain and crew, carries the insurance coverage, but in peer-to-peer rentals, there’s often not a captain or crew involved. And, most boat insurance policies won’t cover an accident or damages if you lend out your boat.
So, Boatsetter’s partnership with Geico Marine is a huge plus for boat owners. Of course, they have to pay a bit more to Boatsetter, but in return, they get the peace of mind that comes with $300,000 in liability coverage per person and $300,000 in total liability per accident.
Plus, if something happens on the water, Boatsetter includes TowBoatUs services. A bit like AAA for boats, TowBoatUS offers 24/7 assistance, including towing, fuel deliveries, and jumpstarts. Renters really appreciate these built-in protections when something goes wrong!
How You Can Make Money with Boatsetter
Boatsetter makes a little bit of money on every boat booking, which is more than justified given the services they provide. But, as a boat owner, you’re probably more interested in how you can make money using Boatsetter.
If you’re like most boat enthusiasts, you probably go weeks or months at a time when you just can’t get out on the water. Maybe you’re out of town or dealing with a busy work schedule. Whatever the case, by listing your boat on Boatsetter, you can put your boat to work even when you’re stuck onshore.
To make money on Boatsetter, all you technically have to do is list your boat as available. To maximize your profits, though, there are a few things you should consider.
Boat owners set hourly prices for their boat rentals on Boatsetter. The prices vary greatly by boat location and type. A sailboat in Orcas Island, Washington, won’t cost the same as a fishing boat in Sarasota, Florida.
So, as a boat owner, you’ll want to examine other listings of similar boats in your area. Then, set your price accordingly.
When researching price points, you’ll want to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples. Keep in mind that Boatsetter offers two different listing options that will affect the price.
You can list your boat for rent as “all-inclusive” or “plus-expenses.” All-inclusive means that the rental price includes a captain and crew. Plus-expenses means that the renter will have to captain the boat themselves or hire a captain separately. In most cases, an all-inclusive listing will be far more expensive than a plus-expenses rate.
Set Rental Minimums
Boatsetter allows boat owners to set a minimum number of rental hours for their boats. The minimum you select will depend on your location and the effort each booking takes.
For example, if you have to tow the boat from storage to the launch ramp for each rental, you’ll probably want a longer rental minimum to help make up for the extra work.
Many owners choose minimums between six and eight hours. That’s about as much time as a renter will want a pontoon boat or ski boat for day use. Longer rental minimums might be helpful if you’re renting out a larger boat, like a yacht.
Minimums below six hours probably aren’t a good idea. It’s difficult to rent out boats to more than one group in a day, given that after each rental, you’ll want to clean and restock things. So, a rental minimum that’s under six hours is likely leaving money on the table.
Offering upgrades like wakeboards, paddleboards, tubes, or float noodles could make your listing more valuable. Renters often want a full water experience, and you can charge a little more if you’re willing to offer it.
Become a Captain
Many renters on Boatsetter are boaters with years of experience who can easily manage a boat themselves. However, there’s a growing market of renters who want to hire a captain instead.
Boatsetter will let you act as your boat’s captain for rentals as long as you can obtain a captain’s license from the United States Coast Guard (UCSG).
Obtaining a captain’s license is relatively easy for an experienced boater. The UCSG will ask for the number of days you’ve sailed, the types of water you’ve navigated, and the weight of your boat. You’ll also need to take an online course, pass an exam, and pay a license fee.
The entire thing will cost you about $750 upfront, but captains can make up to $4500 extra per month. If you’re willing to captain other people’s boats on top of your own, captaining on Boatsetter can quickly become a full-fledged career of its own.
Update Listings and Be Responsive
Renters want to know the boat they’re renting is in good condition. So, to ensure frequent rentals, you should update the listing pictures regularly. You’ll also want to respond to queries quickly as it’s not uncommon to get same-day rental requests.
After renters leave your boat, it’s also crucial to reach out for a review. Good reviews will help you rent your boat more often. Even negative reviews can be helpful as they often point out areas of improvement.
Owning a boat is expensive. There’s storage, winterizing, maintenance, and dock fees on top of fuel charges and general upkeep. So, it’s no wonder that many boat owners choose to use something like Boatsetter to rent out their boats.
Like most peer-to-peer rental companies, Boatsetter makes its money by charging a fee to boat owners when their boats are booked. Unlike other boat rental companies, though, Boatsetter’s fee includes insurance coverage, making it one of the safest ways to rent your vessel.
By renting your boat through Boatsetter, you can help cover regular expenses. And if you’re paying attention to prices, rental minimums, and upgrades, amongst other things, you may find you start turning a profit in the boat rental business.