On Board With John Giglio of Freedom Boat Club

President of boat sharing giant shares his thoughts.

On Board With: John Giglio
John Giglio, President and CEO of Freedom Boat ClubCourtesy Freedom Boat Club

Freedom Boat Club has introduced thousands of people to boating through its rental clubs around the country, where boaters pay club fees in order to use the company’s fleet rather than own their own vessel. We caught up with John Giglio, the company’s leader, about the club and recreational boating.

How many Freedom Boat Club locations are around the country now?
Presently, we have 153 clubs in 30 states and Canada, with a fleet of more than 1,600 boats. In addition, we have just announced a very exciting partnership with Jeanneau in Europe.

What's the main appeal of joining your club?
The key factors that attract our members include a very affordable cost of entry (a one-time fee and monthly dues) that provides access to a fleet of late-model boats, coupled with free and unlimited one-on-one boat training taught by U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains. One of the biggest advantages that our members most value is the maintenance-free boating lifestyle we provide.

Do you attract a lot of new boaters?
We have more than 30,000 total members, including newcomers to the sport and lifestyle, as well as seasoned boaters including former boat owners. We maintain a 93 percent annual membership retention rate. Of the 7 percent who leave each year, about 20 percent go on to purchase a boat of their own.

What's the benefit of your club to someone new to the sport?
The club provides a great way to test the waters and determine if boating is right for you. It also allows newbies to experience a variety of different types of boats to see what is most appealing for you and your family. In southwest Florida, for example, our members have access to pontoons, deck boats, dual consoles, bowriders, inshore and offshore center consoles, wake and surfboats, even a small sampling of sailboats and kayaks.

Our free training program creates safer and more confident boaters. We offer not only the basic new-member educational orientation program with classroom and on-water training but also provide for ongoing free instruction if someone needs or desires additional support.

How about you? Where do you like to boat?
I live on the west coast of Florida for a reason. It offers great year-round boating, and there is so much to see and do. My sweet spot is between Boca Grande and Sarasota.

What's your ideal day on the water?
There's nothing I enjoy more than going boating with my family and our friends. I love the opportunity to totally unplug from everything and just focus on family time. My wife and I love to spend time with our daughters, whether tubing, fishing, or just cruising up and down the ICW.

Can we go with you?
Absolutely!