Floating Your Boat

GetMyBoat’s Business Model Makes Watercraft Ownership Profitable

by Gail Kent

When J.P. Mancini II of Virginia Beach bought a $400,000 boat after leaving his corporate job, his friends thought he was crazy.

Mancini, who grew up on the water, was general manager of a high-end Hampton car dealership. He liked his job but longed for more adventure and wanted a more creative way to earn cash.

Now he’s grossing $500,000 a year and working from home 30 minutes per day by renting his two power boats on booking sites such as GetMyBoat. Working out of Coastal Virginia and Florida, his side hustle became his full-time gig.

“I wanted to buy a boat and was looking for a way to offset the cost,” the 33-year-old says. “My friends told me I shouldn’t do it after I left my job, but I started chartering with my 37-foot and later bought a 30-foot boat.” He calls his versatile boats “SUVs of the seas.” They can be used in all kinds of weather and have many amenities, such as a cabin with sunroofs and sunbeds.

“Our service is the Vrbo of the seas,” says GetMyBoat’s marketing manager, Val Streif, referring to the site that rents vacation houses. Although similar booking sites, such as BoatSetter and Click&Boat, compete in the market, GetMyBoat is the largest. The site rents every kind of water craft, including power boats, yachts, pontoons, sail boats, fishing boats, row boats, kayaks, and jet skis. “We have more than 150,000 options across 9,300 destinations,” Streif says. Larger boats require captains the renter selects from the website.

GetMyBoat charges owners 8.5 percent of every deal. The rental fee varies according to the boat type and size, generally ranging from $150 to $300 per hour. Luxury yachts start at $400 to $500, while pontoons could go for $75 per hour. The customer pays for additional costs, such as fuel.

Mancini, whose boats accommodate up to 13 people plus the crew, charges $599 for two hours and $1,599 per eight-hour day.

People may choose to rent boats for special occasions, such as corporate parties, weddings or family events. GetMyBoat partnered with Disney for the launch of the film, Jungle Cruise. “It was fantastic fun,” says Doug Bird, a boat owner and renter in Hampton Roads and GetMyBoat’s vice president of sales.

get my boat

“If you want to go stand-up paddleboarding, you can do that in Virginia Beach,” he says. “If you want to go sailing out of Hampton, you can do that. Absolutely everything that you can imagine can be achieved. We have super yachts in Miami, houseboats in Europe and sailing boats in Greece.”

Bird says a few years ago he noticed all the boats just sitting in the marina doing nothing. “I thought, why can’t we rent these?” He says research shows that boats are only in use an average of 8 percent of the time, which amounts to approximately 20 to 22 days a year. With booking services, people are now beginning to see their boats as investments rather than costs.

Bird says the “COVID years” were especially good for the company, allowing stir-crazy people stuck at home to get out on a boat when many businesses were closed.

Many renters are return customers. Keyla Byrd of Virginia Beach took a cruise for her 35th birthday in May, inviting family and friends to her on-the-water party. Launching from Cape Henry in a medium-sized boat, the group of five plus a captain toured landmarks and saw dolphins.

“It was wonderful,” she says. “I absolutely would do it again.” She says her children are begging to repeat the experience.

“This area is poised for success,” Mancini says. “People may think about fishing, but they rarely think of boating for entertainment. I’m working to introduce the concept through building brand awareness and advertising.”

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