The global bicycle tourism industry is worth three times more than the bicycle product industry.
If you own a bike store, it’s worth paying close attention to this experience-based side of the industry. You’ll want to stay abreast of the radical transformations of the bicycle tourism industry and its ever-growing audience, including cyclists from all walks of life and who are seeking a variety of riding experiences.
In a world where online technology – and purchasing – is becoming increasingly prevalent, bicycle tourism provides a very real and tangible avenue for local businesses to remain viable, relevant and financially sustainable. In direct response to the trend towards online communication and engagement, never have personal connections and quality, authentic experiences been so highly valued.
Adventure travel and bicycle tourism offer an element of escapism, adventure and personal connections.
Bicycle tourism is more than just bike riding. Cyclists seek a holistic experience of the destinations which they visit. They enjoy immersing themselves in the culture and environment of the places they journey to and travel through. They’re often looking for experiences which enrich their lives and provide lasting memories.
There are many ways local bike stores can tap into this market and leverage an audience of visiting cyclists.
1. Small, cost-effective improvements pay dividends
Compared to other business improvements, there’s a lot you can do to welcome and attract more cyclists that costs very little but can have a big impact for your business.
Most importantly – Customer service is king.
You know it. But are you doing everything you can to make sure your team live and breathe it? This is where digital technology can never compete. Meaningful, personal engagements that inspire your customers to return and inspire them to want to support you. While you may not consider bicycle tourists repeat visitors, think again. And remember the power of word of mouth, reputation and online reviews.
If not already, you should consider offering, and marketing, some of the following initiatives to cater for visiting cyclists:
- Bike reassembly and tune-ups for fly-in cyclists
- In-store information on local cycling routes – via printed guides and knowledgeable staff, with info on popular local rides, local bike clubs and other local destination information a visiting cyclist would want to know – they’ll likely make a purchase while there
- Souvenir merchandise specific to your store or destination – socks, jerseys, caps, bidons…
- Bike wash facilities – a simple hose in your car-parking area
- Guided tours direct from your store – hosted regularly on a given schedule, or personalised
- Bag and luggage storage facilities
- Bike storage facilities
- Airport shuttle services if your destination doesn’t yet have good connections for people travelling with bikes
- Bike hire service – across all ride types and audiences
- Items for hire including bike locks, panniers and other items fly-in cyclists may not wish to pack and travel with
- Host weekend rides, events, training camps or workshops
- Ride fuel – pre-packaged and fresh food products
- Refill their water bottles with a smile
- Team up with other local service providers for compelling package deals or itineraries – accommodation providers; restaurants/cafes; key attractions…
- Work collaboratively with other local businesses – established and start-ups; consider where there are gaps that can be filled by local entrepreneurs.
2. Marketing, promotion and advertising
Some of the key points to bear in mind in further leveraging your existing business opportunities to cater for the growing community of bicycle tourists are that:
- Word of mouth is your best source of advertising
- You also need to make sure you have the right SEO (search engine optimisation) and other online tools in place to help cyclists find you
- Encourage local and visiting cyclists to leave online reviews – make it easy for them to do so – a QR code as they leave the store to scan and select five-star rating
3. Work with your local government
Ensure your local government – destination marketing, tourism, transport departments – are all doing what they can to support you, by placing your destination on the global bicycle tourism map, attracting bicycle tourists to your destination to tap into this market, and supporting local business.
Countless studies demonstrate the positive economic impacts that bicycle tourism is having for local communities and regional destinations the world over. Bicycle tourists are great for local business, local communities and destinations – they tend to travel slower, stay longer, spend more, and seek more meaningful engagements than other visitors. In comparison to many other tourism industries, bicycle tourism is also more environmentally sustainable.
Try to stay abreast of and contribute to local bicycle friendly developments and initiatives of your local government. You could provide input to strategic plans, road safety initiatives and other community engagement opportunities to make sure your destination is doing everything it can to be more bicycle friendly – for visitors and locals. You will be one of the key benefiters!