Few companies, but the most innovative ones, can say that the pandemic has worked in their favour, that it has brought about changes for the better.
But Le Boat is one of those lucky few companies. The London-based budget boat charter company that puts customers at the helm of their own private vessel is not only expanding its fleet, but also its vision for the future.
Ahead of opening its 2022 season on the Rideau Canal in Ontario on May 20, Le Boat has added six top-of-the-line Horizon Plus boats to its growing fleet in Canada, bringing its total to 30. The season in Canada runs until october.
“Le Boat opened its first base in North America in 2018 with 16 boats,” said Lisa McLean, Le Boat’s marketing manager. “We are always looking to expand into new markets, but for now our plans are focused on Canadian waterways as the world begins to reopen and recover from Covid.”
Le Boat saw a major shift in its marketing model when the pandemic hit in 2020, with the biggest markets closing their borders.
“When we first opened, 70% of our business was from Europe and only 30% from Canada,” McLean said, adding that all that changed when the company realized it had to get creative to keep its business afloat.
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LeBoat therefore refocused its marketing strategy on Canada, where the demand for outdoor activities was high, and accelerated by launching an aggressive promotional campaign that spanned print, television and digital avenues to raise awareness. its offers.
Today, Le Boat’s market has shifted: it’s now 70% Canadian bookings and 30% everywhere else.
“We have seen a greater percentage of our bookings come from Canadian travel agents looking for a unique luxury vacation option for their customers, with the majority of sales coming from Ontario and Quebec,” added McLean. “But we are seeing more and more bookings coming from British Columbia and Alberta as people start looking for a vacation in Canada rather than a stay in their own province.”
But now that the world, and much of Europe, is beginning to ease its Covid-era travel restrictions, will the good times continue to flow for Le Boat’s Canadian market? Or will his Canadian business, boosted by pent-up travel demand, start to ebb?
The latter seems unlikely, McLean says.
• Related: Le Boat prepares for 2022 with additions to its fleet
“We expect a record year for sales as everyone starts planning their vacations in 2022 and global travel restrictions continue to ease,” McLean said. “For the 2022 season, we have a few bookings from the European market, but the majority of our clients are booking to explore the Unesco Rideau Canal and are arriving from across Canada and the United States.”
Le Boat’s addition of the six Horizon Plus vessels will help meet growing demand in Canada where, so far, the Rideau Canal is the company’s only available destination. It’s a 126-mile waterway that connects Canada’s capital, Ottawa, to Lake Ontario, with popular sites (like the Rideau Locks) and cities (Perth and Kingston) dotting the stretch where Le Boat operates.
“We work closely with all businesses along the waterway and encourage all of our guests to stop at the small towns and villages along the canal while cruising and do their shopping locally,” McLean said.
With the exception of the Horizon 4 Plus, which sails exclusively on the Canal du Midi in France, all Horizon and Horizon Plus boat models sail in Canada. The newer boats only sail in Canada, while the company’s European market uses earlier models.
Horizon Plus rentals range in price from $2,450 to $4,100 for a seven-day period. Standard Horizon boats start at $1,780 and can cost upwards of $3,800 per week.
Horizon Plus boats are the company’s flagship product and can accommodate up to 12 people. The models are almost identical to the standard Horizon fleet, but with added features, including hotel-grade memory foam mattresses, premium cushions on the sundeck, and smart TVs with streaming service capabilities.
“We look forward to welcoming old and new customers back and helping them reunite with family and friends, as well as celebrating those birthdays and missed anniversaries of the past few years.”