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How to Run a Successful Kayak Rental Business

Do you own a kayak rental business and you need ideas on how to grow it? If YES, here are 10 smart tips on how to run a successful kayak rental business.

The day-to-day running of a Kayak rental business has its own nuances, the type of market served, the growth potential, the costs associated with starting the business, legal considerations and so on.

Just like any other rental business, the kayak rental business has its busiest times at the start of the day renting boats out and at the end when customers are bringing them back in again.

At the beginning of the day customers need to be given a boat, life jacket, paddle and instructed how to operate the craft and where it is safe to paddle.

When the boats are returned the kayak and all the equipment need to be checked for damage and stored carefully for the next customer.

This is an important part of the rental as customer service is pertinent, and to run a successful Kayak rental business you have to make sure the renters had a good time.

To run a successful kayak rental business you must love boating and be experienced in kayaking, as you will certainly have to instruct renters how to operate the craft.

Coupled with being an experienced kayaker you will also have to possess adequate knowledge of the local waterways around your business.

You can do this by joining a kayaking club and spend enough time on nearby waters. Expect your customers to ask for recommendations and where they should go, and you should be able to give them first hand advice. It’s also necessary you take advanced first aid and water safety courses; the Red Cross is a great place to go for these.

10 Tips to Run a Successful Kayak Rental Business

  1. Choose the Right Location

Finding the right location is one of the first challenges your kayak rental business will need to face and surmount. Have it in mind that proximity to recreational water is a prerequisite for paddling sport rental operations. But that isn’t the only issue you’ll have to contend with when it comes to location selection.

Ease of access, visibility, parking and host of other factors also come into play. If possible, try to find a location on the water, with ample parking and fair volume of drive-by traffic. If you need to prioritize features, convenience to water is typically the most important characteristic to target in your start-up strategy.

  1. Employ the Best Hands

If you will hire additional hands, be sure to seek ones with adequate experience and the zeal to work. Many businesses hire part-time employees for their busiest hours to help get people outfitted with kayaks, life jackets and paddles.

You can also hire employees to serve as guides, if your kayak rental business involves offering a guided tour. You can never over-train your staff.

Invest the time and money into making sure all of your team members understand their jobs and know how to perform those jobs safely and correctly.

Ensure your employees are always up-to-date on what’s going on in the kayak business. Establish regular communications on what’s new and what’s changing in the industry. Listen to them: Ask them for feedback and give them plenty of opportunities to share information with you.

  1. Managing Negative Publicity

In any kind of business, negative publicity is never easy to deal with, even for kayak rental businesses. Bad situation inevitably get worse when business fail to prepare for the possibility of a negative news cycle.

The creation of a quality, crisis PR plan and the adequate preparation of key stakeholders is a requirement for any kayak rental business interested in controlling negative messages.

Mailing list providers can also provide quick access to accurate mailing lists, an important consideration if your crisis response plan contains a direct mail component.

  1. Have the Best Guides in the Area and Show Them Off

A key component of a successful kayak renting business is finding the best guides and holding onto them. These are the guys and girls out on the raft not because they like the allure of not being in an office, but because they love the job–and love sharing the thrill with others.

You might have a team page on your website with a photo of each guide plus a bit of text about them. You could include why they got into rafting or kayaking, their background or experience, or even their favourite part of the job or place on the river.

As with all businesses, customers like putting a face to the name. And in your business, cultivating trust is always a plus.

  1. Buy Smarter

By performing a well detailed market feasibility research, you can find out what your customers want and what they are looking for.

Using the information you can make smarter decisions about the equipment that you buy. Don’t buy equipment that is rarely ever used. They will just occupy space and take up money that you could have used for better things.

When starting your rental business, try not to overspend on buying equipment, instead you should purchase your minimum viable inventory based on your market research.

As your business gets more popular, buy more equipment that has proved to be the most popular and lucrative. It is cheaper and easier to buy more equipment in the future than to try to get rid of unwanted equipment.

  1. Leverage on Coupons

Although there are various ways to utilize coupons, the universal objective is to increase traffic, revenue and market exposure.

Many kayak rental business operations leverage on couponing to entice first-time customers to make initial contact with the brand.

To improve the impact of your campaigns, routinely monitor local online and offline marketing channels to learn about the types of coupon offers that are common in your geography.

  1. Choose a Specific Adventure Niche

Have it in mind that just like you, your competitors want to provide customers with an adrenaline-packed and memorable experience on the water. To differentiate yourself, you need to work out what makes your business unique.

Find your niche or unique selling point and promote this in all aspects of your marketing. By effectively doing so, your trips will stand out to those looking for the best choice for their first experience. It will also provide those who have rafted before with an extra incentive to book again.

  1. Experience Matters

Note that by providing the best rafting or kayaking trips possible, your business will market itself. And your happy customers will, too. Focus on the client’s entertainment, treat each trip as a unique experience, and make every trip as enjoyable as you can.

Word-of-mouth couldn’t be more powerful, but it can go either way. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that a customer leaves the trip with positive impression.

You know the drill: focus foremost on safety, then entertainment. Get customers shouting about how great rafting is to everyone and anyone.

  1. Know When It’s Time to Rebrand

Indeed there are many reasons why it might be time to begin a rebranding initiative – but a lack of alternative tactics is not one of them.

For the record, rebranding is an intentional marketing technique designed to deliver long term results. For a kayak rental business, brands are tied to specific stages in the life of a business.

If your company is expanding, you will inevitably outgrow your brand and it will be time to prepare for a comprehensive rebranding effort.

Unless you are confident that you possess the skills necessary to rebrand your business, we advise consulting with a professional marketing firm before you introduce a new brand to your customers.

  1. Seek Additional Revenue Streams

Only few kayak rental businesses survive on rentals alone. In many areas, rentals are a seasonal business and unless you are able to generate additional revenue streams, it may be hard to pay the bills during the off-season. Services like kayak sales, classes, online retailing and other activities align naturally with kayak rental services.

You may even want to explore the idea of providing monthly storage services for privately owned vessels as a way to create a small stream of recurring revenue during the off-season.


Have it in mind that successful kayak rental business owners are more or less skilled marketers. Yet in this industry, the characteristics of able marketers aren’t always obvious.

Kayak rental is a crowded marketplace, but with dedication and persistence, great marketing can help your business outperform larger competitors.