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Boat rental companies grow business with help of app during pandemic

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jun 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 06:27:34-04

OSHKOSH — The coronavirus pandemic has many people re-thinking summer vacations. Opting for more outdoor activities like boating. Boating in Wisconsin is a $4 billion a year industry in the Badger State, and some boat owners are seeing a huge demand in business, helped out by a smartphone app. connects boat owners with renters across the country, including Wisconsin. In Oshkosh, brothers Christopher and Michael Amos started using the app last year when they wanted to rent out their ski boat.

With COVID raging across the country in the summer of 2020, their bookings were unprecedented. The constant connection to customers caused their business to explode. “With the income, we were making we were able to buy a jet ski and get that rented out and with the income that jet ski was making, we were able to buy another one," said Christopher Amos.

Their fleet at Midwest Rental Company has grown over the year and now has several jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards, and 2 brand new pontoon boats for rent. Gary Needelman rents his boat out on Lake Geneva. He says it’s a great way to justify the expense of a boat.

“It helps subsidize the coast of owning a boat, obviously. And someone like myself who loves the lake frankly, it gives me any excuse just to be there” said Needelman. marketing Manager Val Streif says in January through April of this year, bookings are up a whopping 700%. That’s on top of an already record-breaking year in 2020. The app is free to users, and boat owners pay a percentage of their rental to the company for the service.

Streif says they demand for boats is close to outpacing the supply of owners, and they are looking for more vessels. Streif says “anywhere there is body of water where people want to get out and enjoy it, we're looking to grow and add more owners, boat captains, and operators and there is a lot of opportunity in Wisconsin.”

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