Not so long ago it would have been unthinkable for people to book their own holidays and arrange flights, accommodation, hire cars and so on.
Now the opposite is true and it’s almost unthinkable that people would visit a travel agent to arrange their holidays, especially when they can do it all on their smartphones.
The internet has transformed the way travel companies and their customers interact forever. While high streets up and down the country have lost retail shops thanks to online shopping, they have also witnessed the demise of the bricks and mortar Travel Agent.
Online hubs are now the go-to method people use to research and book their holidays. Nowhere is this transformation more evident than in the booming charter yachts sector.
Changes in boat charters
There was a time when many people would not contemplate the idea of chartering a yacht. It was deemed elitist or only available to experienced sailors and boat enthusiasts, plus boat availability and destinations were limited.
But the internet has changed all of that, simplifying the whole process and bringing the excitement of boat charter to a much wider audience. Hiring a boat is now as easy as booking a hotel room, with the added advantage that every boat comes with a guaranteed view of the sea.
One online charter site, Borrowaboat, has seen a boom in bookings on its platform and has sought to address the increased demand. The London-based boat rental platform has acquired Barqo, a peer-to-peer boating marketplace based in Amsterdam.
Only launched in 2017, Borrow A Boat recently completed its third crowdfunding campaign, raising £1.1 million to bring its total funding raised to date to over £4.8 million. In the last year, the company has expanded its operations to the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Borrow A Boat claims the addition of Barqo will make more than 5,000 additional boats available to its customers. That brings the total number available to more than 40,000 in 65 countries, ranging from sailboats to catamarans, riverboats and superyachts.
The advantages of online boat charter
Customers demand hassle-free simplicity when booking their holiday accommodation or flights and it’s no different with boat charters. If companies are to survive in the competitive holiday sector, an online booking portal is a must.
With a 24/7 online scheduling platform, companies are not limited to trading during working hours. Online booking systems allow visitors to see which boats and destinations are available in real time.
Browsing the website at a time that’s convenient to them using their laptops, or mobile devices, they can book a trip and send online payment in just a few clicks.
With thousands of boat options and multiple worldwide destinations available, a website allows customers the ability to filter their requirements and make informed choices. From sailboats to superyachts, the Bahamas to the British coast, the unique choices available are vast.
Customers can now choose the type of boat to charter, type of trip, date, time slot, add-ons and even preferred payment method. Before the onset of the internet, the sheer variety of options would be impossible to articulate to customers in such a clear and accessible manner.
The cost benefits for companies trading online are substantial. Customers booking their holidays by themselves are freeing up staff time to focus on other areas of the business, including marketing and sales.
Similarly, the benefits of reduced overhead costs are passed on to customers through lower charter costs. This makes boat charters an option for customers with a wide range of budgets.
Online scheduling removes the chance of double bookings and alienating customers. With a real-time booking calendar, bookings will always be up-to-date and double bookings will be a thing of the past.
Customers are able to see an online calendar showing the availability of boats means they can plan and book their holidays without the need to constantly contact the charter company.
The changing travel industry
The growth of the internet has forever changed the way people plan and book their holidays. It has transformed the travel industry in a very short space of time and has seen the growth of companies such as Expedia, EasyJet and AirBnB.
Online travel agencies such as Opodo, Expedia and Lastminute.com started the online booking revolution. Their success saw the concept spread to airlines, hotels, transport and tour companies, putting the power back into customers’ hands.
The advent of the internet put the power into customers’ hands, allowing them to compare flight prices, plan routes and book tickets online. Easy Jet was an early adopter of online booking and reaped the rewards.
The budget airline industry as a whole has witnessed a boom in popularity with new airlines and routes springing up across the world. The success of these no-frills airlines has prompted major airlines to set up their own budget airlines to compete.
In 2008, a niche website called Air Bed & Breakfast launched with just a few hundred B&B rooms on its site. Two years and a rebranding later, AirBnB had thousands of listings and it shows no signs of stopping.
Historically, holiday accommodation choices were limited to hotels, camping and holiday rentals and often a strict policy of a minimum one-week booking. Today, Airbnb now offers millions of listings with accommodation options that range from treehouses to penthouses.
The Future of holidays
Airbnb harnessed the power of the internet and put the power back into customers’ hands, changing the world of travel accommodation forever. Sites like Borrow a Boat will hope to follow in their footsteps and provide accessible, affordable and flexible boat charters.