Have you been on a few bike tours? Have you noticed what has worked and what has not on the tours? If you love riding your bicycle and promoting your favorite bike rides with others, than starting a bike tour may be your ticket. The great thing about starting a bike tour business is that you do not have to quit your job to start it. You could start by offering a few tours a year, or on the weekends or holidays. There are even short evening tours you could offer.
When starting a bike tour business you will need to do competitive research on other bicycle tours. You will need to decide on what added services you want to provide. You will want to check for any required permits or licenses needed to operate a bike tour. You will also have to make sure you have adequate insurance. You may want to hire a lawyer to help you develop a waiver form for tour participants to sign. You will also need to develop an advertising and cross-promotional campaign. You may need to hire additional employees for big tours. You need to determine if most of your business can be done through your home office. You will need to find an approved staging area to begin and end your tours.
Where will you work?
Tourist areas would be ideal when starting a bike tour business, but also keep in mind the location’s competition and local rules. You should choose a location where people want to tour. A place with many sites and scenic views to see. You can decide to start with a tour off the beaten track. If you have a reputation for knowing the hidden secrets of an area, this can be a good place to start.
The start up costs depend on how big you want to start. For instance, if you want to host long distance tours, you will need a chase vehicle. The basic costs for any bike tour company would include a good repair kit, a first aid kit, a cell phone with a good range, a promotional budget, insurance, and the basic costs of running a home office. You will need a bicycle and helmet for yourself if you don’t already have one.
Starting a Bike Tour Business Tips
Research what tours are available in your state– you can start with google search, e.g., +bicycle +tour +Michigan (the “+” symbol in front of a word makes it a required word in the search).
Do your competitive intelligence – you need to research other bike touring companies. You can start with the above search. Look to see what kind of tours they offer, their tour rules, tour prices, years in business, etc. Look at the comments about the tour. If you have gone on a tour with a company, they might be more willing to give you advice – especially if they are in a different area than you want to operate. Look up reviews of bicycle tours. Go on a couple different tours. Observe what customers like and don’t like about the tour. Casually mention to the owner or one of the guides, “Gee, this tour was great, I would like to start one at X place.” This may engender interest from the guides and guests.
Other places you can check for professional advice – bicycling organizations have a general interest in promoting biking and may need your services to help with a tour they are sponsoring. Bike shops who don’t offer tours may be your best bet in getting professional advice and referrals for more advice. You can also talk to the local tourist bureaus. They are going to have an interest in anything that promotes tourism in their community.
Come up with unique themes – even if there is a lot of competition in your area, you can come up with a unique theme for your ride. Some ideas might include a taco stand tour, a haunted house night ride, garden tour, etc. If you have a special knowledge of the area, you can use this to your advantage.
Package your deals – the money is in the packaging. Include a souvenir t-shirt. If you can get a commission from other businesses, you can package things such as accommodations, restaurant stops, entertainment, etc. Maybe you can even include a tune-up stop at a local bike shop. Have accessories you lend out for the higher priced packages.
Advertising a Bike Tour Business
When starting a bike tour business you can advertise through the following methods. You can test various forms of advertising to see which are the most effective for your business in your location. Keep the advertising methods that are paying off and dump the ones that are not. You should also look at places where your ads will likely be seen by your target market (the people likely to want to go on a bike tour).
- Bike Tour Business Cards-Create business cards and hand them whenever an opportunity appears. Network as much as possible.
- Flyers– Determine if you can put up flyers in local parks, bus stops, gyms, biking trails, community centers, and more. It is best to ask the owner of these businesses for permission first. Also hand out flyers to passer byes on the street.
- Yahoo Local Searches– If you include your business in the Yahoo Local Searches, when people search for your service in your local area your business will appear in the list. To add your business to Yahoo local search, enter the term “add business to yahoo local search” in Yahoo.com and click on the first link.
- Google Local Searches– Google has a local search as well. To add your business to Google local search, enter the term “add business to google search” in Google.com and click on the first link.
- Website– You can decide to develop a website to provide clients with access to general information about your bicycle rental business. Be sure to include information such as rates and directions on your website.
- Social Media– Create a twitter and facebook page for your bicycle tour business and encourage visitors to join. You can use social media to let customers know of discounts or special themed tours.
- Online– People are constantly looking online for fun things do in their city and local area. Search for “things to do in (your state or city)” in search engines such as google and check out the websites that appear. Contact the website owner and let them know of your bike tour business and if they can add your business to their website. You can also go on forums for bikers and let them know of your bike tour.
- Newspaper– You can consider advertising in your local newspaper.