SamBoat, a dominant player in the European boat rental market, recently announced ambitious plans for expansion into the United States. According to SamBoat, the US is considered the largest boating market in the world, with 87.3-million residents involved in boating activities. The company recently set up shop in Florida with an ambitious goal to offer a fleet of over 2,000 vessels in the United States by 2023.
According to US Country Manager Sarah Briquet, the airbnb-type rental model is very popular in Europe and beyond, with SamBoat currently fielding more than 300,000 requests per year for craft in more than 1,400 destinations worldwide. She says the US, however, has yet to see a dominant player. In addition to SamBoat’s size, Briquet notes customer service and a personal, human touch will set the company apart.
“A lot of people in the US have told us they are not entirely satisfied by the competitors in place,” Briquet says of a process she deems too digitized and lacking personal interaction. “I think we are addressing some people that are not used to boating. They don’t own boats necessarily, they need to be helped at any time if something is not clear. And on the owner’s side it is always good to have an operator ready to help you set up your ad.”
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Briquet notes SamBoat’s establishment in Europe will also prove advantageous as the company can offer a global service to customers, opening the US market to Europeans already familiar with the brand and opening the European market to owners in the US. “That’s a real opportunity for US boat owners that other US-based competitors can’t offer.”
Florida offices will be established in conjunction with Dream Yacht Charter, which bought SamBoat in 2018. SamBoat plans to leverage the fact that yacht manufacturer Bénéteau is a current shareholder in Dream Yacht Charter. Bénéteau owns US-based Rec Boat Holdings, including boatbuilders Four Wins, Glastron, Wellcraft and Scarab.