Options for Kelowna non-boat owner residents and tourists to have fun on Okanagan Lake have expanded with the GetMyBoat service app. (Contributed)

‘I’m on a boat’: Rental service expands to Kelowna

AirBnb concept adopted for Okanagan Lake boat rentals

A U.S.-based rental service is making it more accessible for people to have boating experiences on Okanagan Lake.

GetMyBoat, marketed as the ‘Airbnb of Boats,’ has created a mobile app for the Kelowna market, helping match up boat owners with people looking to soak up the best parts of summer on the water.

Val Streif, marketing manager for GetMyBoat, said the company has established online boat rental beachheads in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, and has established a presence in Kelowna over the past two years.

“We saw a 480 per cent growth in Kelowna in 2021, and bookings are coming up quickly for the 2022 season,” said Streif.

Essentially following the Airbnb model that has become popular for vacation accommodation rentals, Streif says GetMyBoat, now has about a roster of 25 boats in Kelowna accessible for rental, with an average hourly rental rate of $100/hour. But rental rates will vary based on the kind and size of the boat.

She said GetMyBoat provides cost-saving for boat renters while boat owners have access to a source of revenue to offset their boating expenses.

For the company, its revenue incentive comes from an 8.5 per cent booking fee.

“Every locale is different across Canada and the U.S. so we always say that whatever rules apply to boating in a given market, they must be adhered to,” she said.

For Kelowna, that means boating rules set by the federal government, which means having a certified boat operator behind the wheel, and that appropriate insurance coverage is in place.

She said studies have shown boat owners take their vessel out on the water about eight per cent of the year, leaving a lot of downtime when a boat could otherwise be rented out to offset annual costs.

“Boat owners have different reasons for getting involved in our program. For some they might rent their boat out five or six times to cover their marina membership and other expenses for a year, others are looking to turn a nice profit,” Streif said.

“We have heard stories of boat owners earning up to $20,000 a year from boat rentals. One of the cool stories I am aware of is one boat owner who lost his job during COVID and decided to retire early, get his captain’s licence and now operates boat charters in his retirement and is loving it.”

Streif said potential boat renters can scan over the boats available for rent in a given market, citing a greater degree of flexibility for last-minute bookings.

“We have found that during holidays, boat rentals are often booked up months in advance, whereas our app offers a better chance to find a boat at the last minute,” she said.

For more information online, check out getmyboat.com.

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