Business Guide to bicycle tourism success

Helping local businesses to better position for, and attract, more cyclists

The value of bicycle tourists

Want to attract more customers to your business and through your front doors?

Have you considered the value that local cyclists and bicycle tourists bring?

Whether you already recognize the value of this market, or want to know more about this niche market, this guide is for you!

Cyclists come from all walks of life, and have a diverse range of backgrounds and interests beyond cycling. Ages vary from the very young to the elderly.

Compared to other business improvements, there’s a lot can be done with very little by local businesses to attract more cyclists. Most of the changes you can make to welcome more cyclists cost very little but can have a big impact for your business.

In this guide we share our best tips and advice to help local businesses understand what cyclists are looking for, and how you can better position to provide for them, increasing your economic activity and revenue.

How your business can benefit

Cyclists are ordinary people, on bikes. Their needs, while common in some respects to other visitors, are quite unique in others. Consider how well your business is currently suited to provide what cyclists might need. – How well do you know this market and what they might be looking for?

Most businesses can benefit from bicycle tourists in some way and with a few small tweaks, can often position themselves ahead of the competition to attract this growing market segment.

  • Do you have adequate and secure bike parking that is prominently located?
  • Does your menu provide the fuel and sustenance that cyclists want?
  • Is it easy for cyclists to find you – online and on the ground?

These are just some of the questions you might ask yourself.

Bikes mean business

Generally, bicycle tourists enjoy interacting and engaging with locals, supporting local business, and experiencing the best of customer service and genuine hospitality in the destinations they visit; seeking meaningful and authentic experiences.

Bicycle tourism is more than just bike riding, with cyclists seeking a holistic experience, encompassing a range of opportunities and experiences of a destination. 

Bicycle tourists enjoy immersing themselves in the culture and environment of the places they journey to and travel through. They’re are often looking for experiences which enrich their lives. This means different things to different cyclists, and can range from a physical challenge to peace and solitude, to new learnings and knowledge.

Cyclists will support those who support them. It’s human nature. Sounds simple, right?! In theory, yes. But do you really know what it means to welcome cyclists to your business, and what they are looking for?

We’re here to help.

Cyclists tend to travel slowly – they stay longer and spend more. They’re great for business! 

New concepts such as ‘slow-travel’ and ‘local-hood’ are starting to drive outdoor adventure and bicycle tourism. These are great revenue generators for local communities and economies, whereby bicycle tourists stay longer and spend more. Bicycle tourists and locals travelling by bike also tend to support quality local produce and business. This often means spending money locally rather than with large chains.

Could cyclists be your next target market?

Concerned about the thought of middle-aged lycra-clad cyclists scaring away other customers?

Don’t be! For these reasons:

  • Lycra-clad cyclists often have money to spend. They’re well-educated and affluent. They also form an incredibly diverse group from all walks of life. The person you see in lycra for their post-ride coffee at 7am may well be the same person you see in her business suit at 12:30pm, impressing potential new clients at your café with a three-course gourmet and liquid lunch.
  • Bicycle tourists – and your local cyclists – are much more than just the lycra-clad bunch:
    • They’re your regular customer; commuting by bike; simply using it as a mode of transport to get from A to B. These are your local cyclists (active travelers) and represent significant gains to be made in repeat visitation.
    • They’re a family with young children or teenagers visiting your region. Yesterday they were hiking on nature trails. Today they’re journeying on a short rail trail, and tomorrow they’ll be driving their car to a nearby wildlife sanctuary.
    • They’re a retired couple meandering alongside a river trail from the RV park after arriving for a few days in your town while touring the State.
    • They’re a young couple or group of friends wanting to explore your city’s best sights by bike.
    • They’re gung-ho mountain-bike riders seeking their next adventure, challenge or gravity-fed downhill thrill. These cyclists are often hungry, and tired. They want food and a comfortable bed. And they’re willing to pay for it.
    • They’re also beginner mountain bikers; wanting to dip their toes in for some easy trails, but not spend all day out there.
    • They’re bike-packers, on a multi-day/multi-night journey, self-supported but in need of food and a bed. They might have panniers and a tent and looking for a campsite; or they might be traveling lightly with a credit card and reliant solely on local suppliers along the way.

Bicycle tourists are those visiting a destination for the primary reason to ride – to explore mountain bike trails, country roads, grueling mountainous climbs or rail trails. However, for around 75% of bicycle tourists, cycling is just one element of their vacation. They are likely visiting your destination for a wide range of reasons, with cycling just one part of their overall experience.

For all bicycle tourists, their vacation is comprised of the holistic experience of a destination – not only where they ride, but also all the other elements of their stay in your destination – what else they can see and do, the people they meet, the customer service they receive, the quality of the food and beverages drank, and other attractions and points of interest.

Bicycle tourists might be riding alone, as a couple, in a family group or in a larger group of friends or by guided tour.

And what about those local cyclists? Noticed their growing numbers lately?

Local cyclists are one of your best marketing tools in attracting visiting cyclists. If you have a bunch of locals sitting at your cafe, bikes parked outside, a visiting cyclist is likely to trust their comrades that you’re the best bicycle friendly cafe in town and will follow suit.

Local cyclists will also bring you repeat visitation. You might want to think carefully about how you – and your staff – welcome and provide for local cyclists. Read on…

Think your business isn’t suited to bicycle tourism?

Think again!

Most businesses can benefit from cycle tourists in some way, shape or form. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to dig a little deeper to find your niche. For others, it will be quite obvious.

For instance, for a café, restaurant or supermarket it might be a matter of making some minor adjustments to your menu or seating arrangements; or getting some new stock in that meets the needs of cyclists. We’d suggest staying up to date with current trends on what cyclists are looking for. The science on nutrition is a moving feast (pun intended) and there are many different dietary philosophies that cyclists follow. You might be selling more Clif bars one year than you ever thought possible. The next year it will be avocados. Chocolate milk will always be a winner. We can help you keep up to date with this through our Business Support Service.

For any business, it might be as simple as having signage in place to let cyclists know that they’re welcome; – that you want their business; and having somewhere secure they can park their bikes. It might be making sure your staff know that you’re wanting to attract more cyclists; and are welcoming and friendly in their interactions with cyclists.

Tapping into a $100 billion global market

Across the world, bicycle tourism is continuing to rise.

In 2017, travel and tourism were responsible for just over 10% of global GDP and accounted for 10% of the world’s jobs. 

Adventure travel and bicycle tourism are playing an ever increasingly important role as people seek escapism, adventure, transformation and health and wellness, and is expected to continue to expand in coming years. Demand will grow from international travelers, and particularly from the outbound Chinese travel market (Adventure Travel Trade Association, 2018).

In New Zealand, it’s been estimated that bicycle tourists spend, on average, $1,200 more per holiday than non-cycling tourists.

Compared to other business improvements for the tourist market, investment to attract cyclists to local destinations and to your business is comparatively small. Most of the changes you can make to welcome more cyclists cost very little but will have a big impact for your business.

Consider, for instance, the investment required to provide bike parking spaces in comparison to car-parks. It’s free to provide a welcoming smile and ask a cyclist how their ride was. It’s also  – usually – free to offer a refill of a water bottle. Don’t underestimate how much the little things count.

Other benefits of bicycle tourism are that it is a low impact and sustainable industry. Often the awareness and appreciation created by those undertaking slow travel, and immersion-experiences of destinations, can result in direct revenue back to help protect and conserve local tradition, environments and cultures.

Tapping into this market might lead you to ask questions like:

  • What does, or can, our business offer to cycle tourists?
  • What are the quick and easy wins we can put in place right now to attract more cyclists?
  • How can we make ourselves better known to cyclists?
  • How do we work with other local businesses, organisations and local Government to attract more cyclists to our destination?

Bikes mean business! Are you ready to do business?

We’re here to help.

Getting started

So, how do you tap into this market and get started?

Hopefully, by now, you’ve realized throughout this resource that the great thing about bicycle tourism is that you don’t need to spend megabucks to get started and to gain traction. Work with what you’ve already got. Start with a basic self-assessment and reflection of where you’re at. Most businesses can get started with a very small investment, or by simply making a few adjustments – tangible or intangible – and refining your approach as you go.

  • Leverage your existing bicycle infrastructure

What infrastructure do you already have that might attract cyclists to your business? – Bike parking? Free water refills? Tyre pump? A towel for wet weather? Do you need to expand any of these? Do you need to make them more prominent, or place them in a different location to maximize their potential – for use as well as for marketing? You’d be surprised how much a well-placed bike rack can do for your marketing approach.

  • Make it easy for cyclists to find you – online and on the ground

Are you relying on cyclists stumbling per-chance across your business? There is so much competition out there that no business can afford to rely solely on a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. The importance of pre-trip research by any tourist cannot be overstated. Make sure your business is front and center on the digital platforms where cyclists are researching their holidays. Once on the bike, cyclists need to know how to get to you. Make sure you’re easy to find through mobile apps, signage and digital wayfinding solutions.

Listing your business on the CycleLifeHQ platform is a great start. We will then link it into your destination’s landing page.List your business

  • Identify gaps in local business services and offerings

Are there gaps in the services across your destination which – while not directly related to your business – you could easily plug to attract more cyclists? Maybe you’re a hardware store and there’s no bike mechanic or basic repair services in your destination. Consider stocking some basic supplies for cyclists to purchase.

  • Work with your destination authorities and other local businesses to cross-promote

There is value to be gained in a coherent and connected approach from a number of businesses and services who work together to cross-promote and compliment one another; together offering the sum of whole parts for the experiences which cyclists are seeking.

You can quickly and easily identify your unique value proposition, and where you sit across a benchmark with other businesses – locally and globally.

Consider how well you cater for the following aspects to attract more cycle tourists to your business:

  • Are all your staff welcoming and friendly to cyclists?
  • What do you have in place to let cyclists know that you welcome them?
  • Do you have any advertising to attract cyclists?
  • Do you offer any special discounts for cyclists?
  • Do your facilities and services provide for a wide range of cyclists (sightseers, the leisure market, mountain bikers and road cyclists?)
  • Do you have information available for cyclists on cycling and other experiences/points of interest in the local area?

You can also partner with us, providing access to our support services including online assessment to further determine your existing bicycle tourism assets. We will provide you with a benchmark report, indicating where you stack up against other businesses; and with recommendations for easily implementable actions you can take to improve your attractiveness to bicycle tourists.

CycleLifeHQ Support for your journey

Bicycle tourists – like other visitors – are increasingly seeking all the information they need online, and in one single, centralized location to make it easy and quick to research, plan, book and enjoy the vacation.

When it comes to building a successful bicycle tourism business, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your action plan will depend on the type of business and services you offer, your location, your destination’s investment in bicycle tourism and other factors. 

CycleLifeHQ offers FREE business partnerships, providing consultation and ongoing support for your journey in attracting more bicycle tourists.

Our business partnership model is available for all businesses who offer a special deal/discount for CycleLifeHQ Premium cyclists. Our support service provides you with access to:

  • market your business direct to a niche (but large!) cycling audience;
  • our bicycle friendly checklist to identify your current strengths and weaknesses;
    • we’ll then provide you with a recommendation report containing easily implementable actions to attract more bicycle tourists;
  • regular industry insights and latest news to stay at the front of the game;
  • a community of like-minded bicycle friendly businesses to share experiences, ask questions and connect;
  • ability to offer your customers 30% discount on CycleLifeHQ Premium cyclist subscription;
  • special recognition as a CycleLifeHQ bicycle tourism business – online and shopfront window sticker; and
  • list tours, events, services, points of interest, trip reports and other information on the CycleLifeHQ platform.