Borrow A Boat buys up competitors in pursuit of market dominance

The yacht chartering industry has changed a lot in the past 10 years. One of the biggest changes has been the emergence of peer-to-peer boat hire sites like Borrow A Boat. 

Set up in 2017 by a British entrepreneur, Borrow A Boat are the nautical answer to Airbnb. By putting those hiring boats directly in touch with those looking to hire one, Borrow a Boat cut out the intermediaries and make boating holidays more affordable to the average person.

Not content with doing just that, Borrowaboat are out to take over the yacht chartering industry and have big ambitions. In this article we take a look at their recent acquisitions of two major competitors and analyse what it may mean for the industry.

Borrow a Boat who?

Borrow a Boat is the service taking the yacht chartering industry by storm (no Perfect Storm puns intended here…). Set up as a result of crowd funding, the site has been able to expand quickly into 65 countries and boasts a catalogue of 35,000 plus boats.

As alluded to in the introduction, the company are the nautical answer to Airbnb in that they offer a peer-to-peer platform connecting rentiers to renters. What makes them special though, particularly in the traditionally expensive world of yacht chartering, is that they cater to all budgets.

Head over to their site and in just a few clicks you can find yacht hire in Croatia ranging from £510 for a week to £600,000 for a week on a 290 foot super yacht. That’s a fact that encapsulates the company’s USP – they are as much the domain of the man in the pub as the man in a member’s only club in London.

Who has Borrow a Boat bought?

In March of this year the company announced that they had acquired fellow British competitor Beds on Board, who offered a similar service. The purchase gives Borrow a Boat access to 5,000 more boats and over 30,000 users – significantly bolstering their offering.

In addition to that acquisition, Borrow a Boat also acquired Barqo, a Dutch platform formed by Thijs Jannes, Dennis van Kappen and Floris van Hoogenhuyze in 2014. That deal brought in an extra 5,000 boats and a customer base of over 100,000 into the Borrow a Boat portfolio.

It also makes Borrow a Boat the biggest P2P boat hiring platform in Europe as they have inherited a 2021 deal between Barqo and a French based online marketplace that made Barqo the most extensively covered European boat hire company.

What do these acquisitions mean?

Well they mean bigger profits for Borrow a Boat. They also mean that the British company is now the biggest name in the yacht chartering business and is well-placed to be at the forefront of an industry predicted to reach $30 billion in revenues by 2030.

In terms of operations, these acquisitions also give Borrow a Boat the clout and money to expand into more and more countries. Currently the service is available in 65 countries, but Borrow a Boat plans to double that in the coming years.

What does this mean for consumers?

Monopolisation is traditionally seen as a bad thing in industry, but in regards to yacht chartering, Borrow a Boat’s growth can only mean good things for consumers. That’s because for decades the industry has been a closed shop where intermediaries make more money than they should from putting renters in touch with rentiers.

As Borrow a Boat expands, thousands of rentiers will be added to their ranks which will naturally encourage competition and therefore reduce the prices that consumers have to pay. In the coming years it could very work out cheaper to hire a yacht to travel around the coast of Greece than it is to go on a package holiday.

On a larger scale, the growth of Borrow a Boat could have even bigger repercussions on the travel industry itself. If yacht hire, which has always been seen as a luxury out of the reach of the common person, becomes more than affordable, pressure will be heaped on other tourist services to lower their prices.

After all, why would you pay through the nose for a three-star hotel in a resort when you could go to sleep beneath the stars on a luxurious yacht? Perhaps in 2030 it will even become more common to spend your holidays sailing off the coast of sun-soaked Mediterranean countries than heading to the airport…