‘Ocean Airbnb’ could help Whitsunday tourism
IT HAS been called the ‘Airbnb of the ocean’, and the company behind the idea are certain it will bring more tourists to the Whitsundays – as well as help charter businesses out of peak season.
Launched three years ago, Flotespace is an online marketplace that enables boat owners with boats berthed in marinas to allow people to use them for day or overnight stays.
CEO of Flotespace Hugh Treseder said the start-up website is a tool used to link people interested in experiencing boats, whether that be for buck and hen’s parties, couples looking for intimate experiences or businesses looking to hold corporate events.
“We have around 140 boats on our list and we’re gaining traction, and becoming a bit more known in the industry. We’re currently experiencing around 2-5 boats signing up a day” he said.
“This system has proven itself successful in the UK and Europe already, and is taken up by huge companies to families looking for something unique.
“We’re investing a lot of effort in getting more people up to the Whitsundays so they can experience everything it has to offer.”
Mr Treseder said the website could enable boat owners with boats otherwise berthed and moored to gain an income.
He said the business was currently predominantly based in Sydney, but there were plans to “rapidly expand” in the near future, with the Whitsundays the key location in the Australian expansion.
“In the quiet times, this means boat owners can earn something from a boat which would otherwise sit around not being used,” he said.
“I know it has been a bit of a rough patch for tourism in the region, so anything extra to let people get a decent income is a positive thing.”
Jessica Hansen, manager of Alani – an 82ft Sunseeker yacht chartered out of Hamilton Island – said she welcomed any service which makes it easier to connect boatowners with customers.
She said it was common practice for companies to expand to the Whitsundays after Sydney.
“They’re a crucial part of our business as they open up the customer base to many more people,” Ms Hansen said.
She said companies like Flotespace had the ability to provide extra income during quiet periods.
“Without companies like them, we’re just relying on our own customer database,” she said.
“But for example, Flotespace might have a regular client in Sydney who is looking for an experience in Hamilton Island and they would be able to send them our way.
“It’s really important to a business like us that we work as closely as possible to an agency like that.”