Choose your country

Or view all businesses for sale



How to Run a Boat Rental Business in Australia

Water-based activities are popular with Australians and tourists alike thanks to the country’s pristine waters. Many boat rental companies are taking advantage of this demand, and so can you.

In recent years, Australian marine tourism has seen double-digit growth thanks to the demand for local activities. On top of this, roughly 85% of Australia’s population is located near coastlines.

That’s why now is a fantastic time to be running a boat rental business in Australia, or perhaps acquire one and have the groundwork laid out for you.

However, competition is fierce, so you need to ensure excellent customer experiences, know the factors that can affect your success and much more.

The good news is this post will teach you everything you need to know.

Ways to Improve Customer Experience

Customer experience is paramount for boat rental companies as customers are there to have a memorable time.

Some ways to improve the experience include:

Creating themed rental packages: themed packages can set your company apart if they’re unique. For example, you could offer 70s parties or nature photography tours.

Allow customers to get hands-on: if safe to do so, you can teach customers about different aspects of the boat and allow them to help with certain parts of the experience. This would be a fantastic experience for children.

Cater to a specific demographic: if you focus on serving a particular kind of customer, you gain hands-on experience and knowledge that you can use to improve your services.

Refining Your Target Market

Since Australia is surrounded by water, you can’t go wrong starting a boat rental company in most of its coastal cities.

However, it’s wise to offer boat rentals in or near major cities and tourist hubs. Some of the best areas include:

  • Perth
  • Cairns
  • Whitsundays (Great Barrier Reef)
  • Brisbane (Moreton Bay)
  • Sydney
  • Hobart
  • Fraser Island
  • Melbourne
  • Adelaide

If you plan to focus on a tourist hub, it’s a good idea to make sure that there’s also demand from the local population. Otherwise, you could fall victim to unforeseen events like the Covid-19 pandemic, which reduced tourism dramatically.

Factors That Can Affect Your Boat Rental Company

The success of your boat rental company will be affected by several factors, including:

  • Weather: currents, tides, wind and rain can affect your customers’ boating experience. Ensure that your boat is equipped to handle expected weather, and don’t be afraid to postpone events if conditions aren’t suitable.
  • Competition: competition is a good sign as it means there are paying customers for your business. However, it’s vital that you analyze what they’re doing and see what you can implement or avoid in your own business.
  • Licenses and permits: the type of boat(s) you have and where your business is located will determine the licenses you need. For example, in QLD, you and any crew members will need a relevant certificate of competency issued from the DCVS.
  • Location: your location is paramount to your success as it will determine how many potential customers you have, the types of customers in the area and much more.
  • Sailing route: even if your event is focused on what’s happening on the boat e.g. a party, it’s important that the scenery is worth the boat trip. Customers will wonder why they didn’t just book a room at a local restaurant or hotel if it isn't.

Market Research For Australian Boat Rental Companies

When running a boat rental business, it’s important to keep abreast of the latest industry news and trends. Doing so can help you discover profitable opportunities and ensure your business is operating to the best of its ability.

Some resources for conducting market research include:

Growth Prospects For Boat Rental Businesses

With Australia being an island nation, the demand for boat rentals has always been strong.

In recent times, boat ownership in Australia has increased by 1.9% since 2012, which equals 400,000 new boats showing a growing demand for water-based activities. On top of this, marine tourism has grown by 11% over the last few years due to local demand for travel options.

Easing Covid-19 restrictions are expected to bolster this growth as tourism and travel begin to resume.

Facts About The Australian Boating Industry

  • In the high season, boat rentals start at roughly $373 per day and $2,355 per week.
  • Boat manufacturers are experiencing 10 - 15% increases in vessel orders which signals high demand for boating experiences.
  • 25% of the Australian population consider themselves people who go boating, with 34% of Queensland’s population claiming the same.

Innovative Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers

To attract customers in our noisy digital age, it’s vital that you use effective marketing strategies.

  • Virtual tours: you can implement virtual tours by capturing videos of your sailing routes or using dedicated virtual tour software, enticing customers to experience the real thing.
  • Share user-generated content: this type of content is powerful as it comes from a 3rd party, making it more believable than anything created in-house.
  • Partner with travel websites: if your boat rentals are geared towards tourists, travel resources like Airbnb, Agoda, and Trip allow customers to book your services through their platform.

Financing Options For Growing Your Company

Boats aren’t exactly cheap, so when it’s time for expansion, it’s wise to consider financing options for your company.

Some popular options in Australia include:

  • Equity: you can give up equity in your business in exchange for funding from private investors or companies.
  • Profit splits: instead of buying a new vessel, you can set up an operational profit split with someone who owns the vessel(s) you’d like to use in your business.

Exiting Your Boat Rental Company

Whether you want to sell your rental company to an investor, pass it on to your family or something else, you must organize your business correctly.

To prepare for your eventual exit, you should:

  • Create standard operating procedures for every aspect of your business. For example, cleaning your vessels, accounting, customer service and more.
  • Build a brand that can function as its own entity, rather than relying on your image.
  • Focus on growing your business year-over-year.

And if you plan to sell your business for a profit, it’s a good idea to learn about business valuation and negotiation so you can sell for a fair price.

Megan Kelly

About the author

Megan is Head of Content Marketing at She is a B2B Content Strategist and Copywriter. She has produced multiple articles that rank on the first page of Google SERPS, and loves creating people-first content.