HOT TOPIC: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A BOAT CLUB

Perhaps you are considering joining a boat club this year or just want to know how they work. If so, Michelle Voss, director, global public relations – Brunswick Corporation, is here to help.

As consumers look for opportunities to enjoy the on-water lifestyle, there are many routes to explore – new boat ownership, pre-owned, rentals, syndicate ownership – and a newer concept that is making a splash across the UK and European market, boat clubs.

Boat clubs offer a subscription-based model in which its members pay a one-time entry fee and monthly dues, and in return have access to their club’s fleet of boats. One of the major draws of a boat club is the convenience factor. The club handles the storage, maintenance, insurance, repairs, cleaning and even fuelling of the boat, so members can maximise their time on the water.

One club that is an example of this is Freedom Boat Club, which originated in the US and is now the largest with more than 400 locations worldwide, and also the most tenured with over 35 years of experience operating in the boat club space. The club has grown significantly over the years expanding its presence across Europe with five locations in the UK, and most recently opening across Australia. As consumers continue to explore the idea of a boat club, there are key elements of the membership that should be evaluated before deciding the best fit for your lifestyle.

Access and Fleet
Key considerations are the type of access you will have as a member and knowing the types of vessels in your home club fleet, as well as protocols for adding new boats and retiring older boats. It is important to understand if there are any limitations, and how the club decides to add new boats to the fleet.

For example, Freedom Boat Club operates on a rolling reservation system, so members have unlimited access to their home fleet of boats, which are turned over every few years to ensure members are enjoying a new fleet and have access to the latest technology. The club also offers different membership types to best accommodate the needs of its membership base.

Training
Feeling comfortable and confident at the helm is a critical aspect of making the most of your boat club experience. Before joining, it is important to understand the training and certifications provided as a part of your membership.

As part of Freedom’s training program, all members receive comprehensive training (RYA Powerboat Level 2) to ensure they are confident in operating and navigating all types of vessels in their home fleet. They also have unlimited access to training from certified captains. This is especially helpful if you are taking an excursion from a new location or boating in unfamiliar waters.

Member Experience
Unlike a rental experience with a pay-for-use experience, a boat club is intended to be a long-term relationship with the goal of delivering remarkable member experiences. Over time, you will develop relationships with the local team, as well as your fellow members. Finding a club that promotes opportunities to socialise and delivers a best-in-class dockside experience add to the enjoyment of being a member.

Special Programs
A final consideration is any special programs available to members. Many clubs offer partner discounts, member referral programs and so on. At Freedom, members enjoy all of the above, but a key differentiator is its reciprocal access program giving members the opportunity to get afloat at any of the club’s 400+ locations worldwide.

All in all, boat clubs are increasing in popularity as consumers learn about this new way to enjoy the on-water lifestyle without the commitment that comes with boat ownership.


To learn more about Freedom Boat Club, visit www.freedomboatclub.co.uk.

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