The past year has led many people, whether as a social-distancing precaution or otherwise, to head to the great outdoors — in many cases trying out powersports for the first time. According to ResearchandMarkets.com, the market for powersports is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6.21%. But many of those looking to jump onto an ATV or jet ski may have found limited rental options, or hesitated to purchase their own powersports equipment due to the expense or concern they would not use it frequently enough.
These powersports newcomers, or those looking to sample a different activity or new machine, will soon find a new way to try out a wide range of experiences — and give Northern Ontario-based owners of powersports equipment a chance to make some money on their assets.
the sharing economy has arrived for powersports
That is the vision of AdventureRentals.ca, an equipment-sharing platform that will work like an Airbnb for powersports. The brainchild of married couple Mark and Cheryl Cichon, the idea grew out of their passion for powersports and the outdoors. Owners of the construction and landscaping company ELP Landscapes, they make regular use of side-by-sides and snowmobiles on family trips and Mark has been a lifelong enthusiast of all types of machines.
“Since I was little, I've been part of some sort of off-roading powersport,” says Mark. “Everything from ATVs to snowmobiles, side-by-sides, boats, dirt bikes — a little bit of everything.”
The two own a cottage in the Haliburton area that they’ve been renting to vacationers for half a decade, keeping the four-wheelers and snowmobiles they store there locked away. But as visitors would ask where they could rent a Sea-Doo or ATV, the Cichons soon connected the dots.
“People want to experience those sports and have the fun that we have each time we enjoy the cottage,” says Cheryl. “That’s how the idea took off.”
Realizing that throughout Northern Ontario there were probably a lot of people like their guests (looking to rent or borrow powersports equipment for a weekend or just a couple times for the season) and a lot of people like themselves (with powersports machines they aren’t using plenty of weeks out of the year), the Cichons struck on the idea of creating a marketplace that could connect both types of people.
turn your equipment into a money-making enterprise
“For the owner, you can offset the cost of ownership or even turn your asset into a small business that makes you money,” says Mark. “From the customer’s side, it lets them ride where they want when they want.”
For anyone familiar with home-sharing service Airbnb or car-sharing marketplace Turo, the approach taken by Adventure Rentals will be clear. Owners list their jet ski, boat, snowmobile or other powersports equipment, indicating when they will be available during the year and where they’re located. Renters hop on and find the offering that fits their interests and submit a request. The renter and owner then coordinate on when and where the machine will be picked up and returned.
The service officially kicks off on June 1, but the Adventure Rentals website is currently up, accepting entries from suppliers who want to add their machines and customers who’d like to view what will be available by summer.
Minimizing risks for both renters and owners is a priority and Adventure Rentals is now finalizing a general liability plan as well as an in-house protection plan for participants. The service will organize renters into three tiers based on their experience with the machines — a system the Cichons are looking to enhance with additional AI features aimed at quickly assessing the risk level of a potential customer. Owners will also have the choice of how much of a damage deposit to assign to the customer.
“Safety is paramount and we want everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy the machines,” says Cheryl.
When it launches this summer, Adventure Rentals’ offerings will initially focus on boats, jet skis and PWCs “and we’ll sequence out the launch from there based on the seasons,” says Mark. In time, he expects this will expand to “larger sized boats, multiple ATVs and full excursions for people” including cycling tours, dogsled outings and more.
try new models, avoid the hassle of hourly rentals, or turn a profit
As so many people have had to rethink their travel plans or stay closer to home this past year, many have been newly introduced to a wide array of powersports activities. These newcomers or occasional riders, whose interest in new ways to enjoy the outdoors have been sparked, but who don’t necessarily own their own machines or equipment, are a prime audience for Adventure Rentals. But it’s not just newbies who the Chichons are targeting.
“We’re also anticipating our suppliers will become customers as well,” says Mark. “I know for myself, I own a 500 Can-Am ATV, but I want to try out an 800 and our service will allow for that.”
The service prioritizes comfort and convenience, making it easy to upgrade an outing to cottage country and beyond with a few clicks of a mouse.
“You’re not having to go wait in a long line just to have an instructor bring you out to a bay for 35 minutes and that’s it,” says Cheryl. “You can bring this to the same place you go every year to vacation and enjoy on your own terms.”