The peer-to-peer home rental market has grown enormously over the past few years thanks to Airbnb and others paving the way, and now one company is looking to do the same thing for boat rentals.
“We didn’t really understand why such a big industry was so marginally affected by technology,” Delphine Braas, one of Sailo’s co-founders, told FOXBusiness.com.
Customers can compare boat/captain options and book their arrangements in minutes after providing information such as the desired port location, travel date(s) and budget. They can also view photos of the various listings as well as read ratings and reviews.
Sailo offers complete insurance that covers the boat, the renter, the marina, boat damages and liabilities. Of course, liabilities are a lot lower when customers go out on the water with a captain, but they can drive the boat themselves upon presentation of the necessary paperwork and licenses.
“Getting the lay of the land [for boat charters] was very manual…We wanted to make the process really simple by bringing it online and aggregating all of the supplies, which includes charter companies but also private boat owners, whose boats go unused most of the year.”
Sailo initially listed boats just in New York and Miami upon its launch in September of 2014, but has since expanded to the entire East Coast, parts of the West Coast, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Braas says this time last year, Sailo listed around 200 boats, and now maintains a fleet of about 4,000.
Nine of those are supplied by 26 North Yachts, a boutique brokerage house that’s been working with Sailo since last August to list boats from its charter division.
“We are constantly looking for ways to broaden our reach, find new customers and create additional revenue for our clients [who actually own the yachts],” William Snyder, director of yacht charters at 26 North Yachts, told FOXBusiness.com.
While Snyder declined to provide a dollar figure, he says the revenue generated for his clients by Sailo has been “significant” and rental inquiries have picked up tremendously since they began listing.
“[Nine yachts] is a lot to manage, promote and take care of and that really is why Sailo is critical – they can market the breadth of our charter fleet. And we can piggyback on their investments,” Snyder adds.
An analysis by Future Market Insights estimates the global yacht charter market will be valued at $51 billion by 2020, and Sailo fully intends to capitalize on that anticipated growth through a number of initiatives.
In terms of physical expansion, Sailo is looking to up its presence in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Latin America over the coming months.
The company isn’t publicly disclosing its funding agenda, but it did graduate from Techstars, a 13-week startup accelerator program backed by venture capitalists in December, and it will likely hold another round of angel investing in the near future.
Sailo is not ruling out being acquired somewhere down the line either.
“I think Airbnb would be really complementary because people who are going to be renting a house, if they’re on vacation, they might want to rent a boat…Priceline Group would also be a great partner for us,” Braas says.
But, she adds, “Boating is something a bit more special [than renting a home]. So, people do put in more research and time thinking about what boat they want.”
And Snyder agrees: “Every charter is going to be different, it’s not cookie cutter. Everyone wants a unique experience.”