Between 2023 and 2028, the global recreational boat market is projected to grow significantly from $18.9 billion to $25.9 billion. More than ever before, marine retailers will need to adopt the most innovative technology to increase efficiencies and keep up with customer demand.

Implementing a complete, web-based DMS can help your dealership thrive in a time of growth and change. But first, it’s important to understand the current trends that have widened the recreational boating audience.

Rise in Outdoor Recreation

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMAA), outdoor recreation accounts for 1.9% of U.S. GDP, generating $862 billion in gross economic output. The largest contributor is the recreational boating and fishing industry, generating $50.4 billion and supporting 4.5 million American jobs.

During the pandemic, the country experienced noteworthy recreational boating growth as individuals and families sought fun and relaxing ways to get outside and improve their mental health. In fact, the NMAA reports that over 800,000 first-time boat buyers entered the market between 2020 and 2021.

This profound increase in the boating audience has appeared to have a lasting effect. The NMMA’s research reveals a 36% increase in the industry’s annual economic impact from $170 billion in 2018 to $230 billion in 2023. Many families found a new and enjoyable activity and will likely contribute to the recreational boat market in the future. Furthermore, the early introduction of the boating lifestyle to the young kids in these families creates an opportunity for potential customers once they reach adulthood.

Increased Sustainability Efforts

Environmental and sustainability concerns have increased significantly around the globe, and the marine industry recognizes the importance of doing its part to reduce emissions. In the last two decades, the recreational marine industry has decreased marine engine emissions by 90% and increased fuel efficiency by more than 40%. MOT - Recreational Boating Quote (2)

As the marine industry works its way to zero emissions, those who have steered clear of boating activities due to environmental concerns will be more inclined to dip their toes in the waters.

For example, the industry has seen a steady increase in the availability of electric watercraft. The major environmental benefit of electric boats is their emissions-free propulsion. As more electric boating options become available, this new segment of environmentally conscious boaters will grow.

The innovation and acceptance of electric boats will continue to develop. In fact, the global electric boat market was valued at $5 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $16.6 billion by 2031. As various sustainable and environmentally friendly efforts expand throughout the industry, electric boats will increasingly play an integral role for recreational boating.

Boat Rental Popularity

One major contributing factor to the rise in the recreational boating industry is the increasing popularity of boat rentals. In 2022, the global boat rental market size was valued at $5.2 billion and is expected to reach $10.2 billion by 2032.

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There are a variety of reasons boat rentals are a popular choice for consumers. The price difference is perhaps the most substantial appeal, considering the buy-in cost for owning a new or used boat is significantly higher than the cost of renting a boat for a few hours. Not only that, owning comes with additional costs such as fuel, maintenance, storage, equipment, and accessories.

Another enticing factor is the ease and flexibility of renting. Consumers can choose exactly when, where, for how long, and what kind of boat they want to rent. Due to advanced boating technology, first-time boaters can pick up on how to maneuver and control watercraft pretty easily and quickly — which is why renting can be an exciting option.

Your dealership will benefit from having an organized rental program for customers who may not be in the market for owning a boat outright. To keep track of each rental unit and maintain smooth operation, adopt a rental solution that organizes all your rental data and provides on-demand access to the insights you need.

Revitalized Tourism

As travel restrictions have been lifted, destinations around the globe have seen a massive influx of tourists compared to the low numbers during the pandemic. According to a recent study, spending on travel and tourism-related activities in May 2023 was up 105% compared to May 2021.

As travel and activity participation continues to increase, many marine tourist businesses will be looking to do business with a dealership like yours. Whether they’re seeking new units or scheduling maintenance appointments, marine tourist attraction businesses will need to be prepared for significant interest in sightseeing tours, whale watching, sailing, dinner cruises, and much more.

Technological Advancements

Over the last few decades, we’ve witnessed extreme advancements in boating technology. These improvements are driving more consumers to engage in boating activities.

MOT - Recreational Boating Blog IoT ExplanationFor example, many consumers are choosing boats that use Internet of Things (IoT) technology. On boats, this technology is being used to improve the connectivity of entertainment systems and various safety and security features.

Consumers can find boats with IoT options such as GPS tracking, bilge level alarms, smoke and fire alarms, temperature sensors, collision alerts, automatic avoidance action, and more. With IoT, consumers can monitor information easily, be alerted of issues immediately, and take care of each problem before the situation worsens. All these advancements work to make boating easier, safer, and more enjoyable! As a result, more individuals will be encouraged to introduce boating into their lifestyles.

Detailed Data Analytics

Advanced analytical tools continue to open opportunities to better target audiences and reach intended segments. The adoption of a web-based DMS with robust analytical abilities allows marine dealers to foster current relationships with customers and identify strong leads.

These powerful tools act as a catalyst for garnering interest in the recreational boating lifestyle. They provide the opportunity to pinpoint which boats an individual prefers and prepare for the completion of an important sale. As data analytics continue to improve, your dealership will have stronger capabilities to widen the recreational boating audience.

Looking Ahead

The substantial change, innovation, and growth that the recreational boating industry has been experiencing will likely continue strong. As your dealership prepares for the upcoming years of success, keep these industry trends in mind to deliver exactly what your customers need.