Living Like the 1% Is No Longer About Buying Cars, Boats and Jets

November 3, 2016, 4:33 PM UTC

If you’re into yachting, flying private, or driving a classic car, but aren’t so much into the maintenance aspect of it all — don’t panic. You have a lot of options.

A number of startups are competing to provide consumers with the experience of traveling on a boat, jet, or vintage Porsche without the headache of ownership. XOJet, for example, offers on-demand private flights. Members who put down at least $100,000 a year have priority booking access (along with perks such as in-flight catering), making the experience just as convenient as owning your own jet, says chief executive Bradley Stewart.

If boating is more your speed, consider Barton & Gray. The company offers annual memberships starting at $25,000, which includes unlimited yachting day trips. Meanwhile, for $5,000 to $15,000 a year, car enthusiasts in New York City can join the Classic Car Club Manhattan. In exchange for the fee, members can reserve and drive any of the company’s 30-plus fleet of new and vintage cars.

Part of the appeal is financial — purchasing and maintaining a boat, private plane, or Lamborghini Huracan is obviously far more expensive than paying a fee for occasional access. But both Stewart and Barton & Gray co-founder and CEO Tim Barton noticeably bristle at the suggestion that their services are an affordable option. In part, this is because marketing a minimum spend of $100,000 a year for private flights as the thrifty choice feels a little out of touch. But more importantly, the founders of all three companies aren’t selling cost cutting measures. Instead, they’re peddling the idea that real luxury isn’t about ownership — it’s about convenience and creating experiences.

Related: How This Entrepreneur Built a $16,000-an-Hour Private Jet Business

“Generally you’ll find our members are adventures seeking,” says Zac Moseley, the co-founder of Classic Car Club Manhattan. “We’re kind of in the shared economy where people are realizing they don’t need objects to enjoy life. They’d rather build up as many cool memories as they can.”

Wrapped up in this sales pitch is the idea that ownership is a hassle. As the adage goes, the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life is the day he buys it and the day he sells it (and yes, Burton has heard that one before.) “Hopefully our members never see what goes on to maintain these boats,” Barton says.

“It’s the ease of use aspect to it,” agrees XOJet’s Stewart. “I own a second home, and once you decide to buy something, you have to manage it, fix it up and take care of it. What’s cool about XOJET’s offering is that it provides an owner-like experience, but you don’t have to worry about it.”

To learn more about how these companies’ are marketing themselves, watch the video above.