Boat rental companies expand business with help of app during pandemic

OSHKOSH — The coronavirus pandemic has many people rethinking summer vacation. Opt for more outdoor activities like boating. Boating in Wisconsin is a $4 billion-a-year industry in Badger State, and some boat owners are seeing huge demand in business, aided 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 their ski boat.

With COVID raging across the country in the summer of 2020, their bookings were unprecedented. The constant connection with customers has made their business explode. “With the income we were earning we were able to buy a jet ski and rent it out and with the income the jet ski was earning 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, paddle boards and 2 new pontoon boats for rent. Gary Needelman rents his boat on Lake Geneva. He says it’s a great way to justify the expense of a boat.

“It helps subsidize the coast to own a boat, obviously. And someone like me who frankly loves the lake, that gives me any excuse just to be there,” Needelman said. Marketing Director Val Streif says that from January to April this year, bookings have increased by 700%. This adds to an already record year in 2020. The app is free for users and boat owners pay a percentage of their rental to the company for the service.

Streif says the demand for boats is close to exceeding supply from owners and they are looking for more vessels. Streif says “wherever there is a body of water where people want to get out and enjoy it, we are looking to expand and add more owners, boat captains and operators and there are plenty of opportunities in Wisconsin.”

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