A thriving new marketplace for instant pay-to-play boating will shake-up how we go afloat. Toby Hodges explains the four different types of yachting renting platforms
Those who travel for work will likely seek reliable hotel chains where they know they’ll have a comfortable bed, a quiet room and a good night’s sleep. Come holiday time, however, they may instead yearn for escapism, something totally different from the reliable/monotonous norm – the ice hotel, the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, the gypsy caravan.
Yachts present another imaginative form of accommodation and, as the vast majority sit empty, the potential to sell dockside cabin space has appeal. Many of the new boat rental businesses also offer accommodation only, but there is only one dedicated marine site in the UK.
Beds on Board is the brainchild of brothers Jason and Tim Ludlow. The idea came to Jason while he was working at a sailing events management company and crewing on Sir Peter Ogden’s mini maxi Jethou in 2015. Following a race at Palma Vela, Ogden asked Jason what could be done with all the empty boats sitting in the marinas. ‘Beds’ was the obvious answer.
The Ludlows quickly saw the demand, especially with ‘non boaty people’. “There are no new customers without new experiences,” says Tim. It soon became obvious they needed to work closely with marina companies such as MDL in the UK, which Tim believes benefits the industry. “Who doesn’t want new customers and who doesn’t want a more vibrant marina? We’re helping boat owners to stay boat owners.”
Beds on Board now has 1,700-2,000 boats listed, of which around half are yachts, with around 80% in the UK. As well as a trend for ‘boat savvy clients’ the company typically sees families looking for celebratory occasions or mini breaks and couples looking for ‘affordable, unique experiences’.
“We pour people into the marine funnel,” says Tim Ludlow. “The question is what the industry can do to convert them.”