How to add bicycles to a walking tour

tour management software

You may be surprised just how easy it is to expand your current walking tour to include the use of bicycles as a lucrative ticket upsell. Tour guides should consider expanding their service to include bicycles because more cities are building new bike lanes and "bike-only" areas that are away from the roads cars use. This post looks at what tours are using bicycles now and how to add bicycles to a walking tour using readily available resources.

Nobody walks in L.A.

Earlier this week Arnie Cooper wrote his thoughts on bicycle guided tours in the Wall Street Journal. In L.A. in a Day - By Bike. Cooper not only recounts his experience as a tour participant, but he adds social commentary on the ever growing role bikes have in day-to-day transportation.

Fortunately, cars and ambulances really aren't the only "two modes of transport in Los Angeles," as Fran Lebowitz once said. Though late in the game, the 500-square-mile Los Angeles Basin is finally discovering the virtues of pedal power...The city of Los Angeles launches its first major bike-share program next month.

As to the business of conducting tours, Cooper interviewed guides asking about how the tours are conducted and the average distance. Note that the tours Cooper makes references to are in Los Angeles, a city famous for being spread across a very large area. As such, the bicycle tours are significantly longer in distance than what is practical on a walking tour (more on why this is important later). Guide Kim Beaudoin was quoted during by Copper:

"All right, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to your L.A. in a Day Bike Tour. We've got 32 miles ahead of us. We're gonna be burning about 2,000 calories. The first two hours we'll be doing some hills, then it's straight cruising out to the beach."

Cooper's review goes on to list all of the stops made during the bicycle tour, some observations being quite humorous, and concludes with a very poignant observation - sightseeing tours on a bicycle are a far more enjoyable activity than he had anticipated.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bicycle)

One of the best parts about operating a walking tour is the low overhead costs. Other than insurance and printed handout materials, there isn't much in the way of equipment or maintenance costs (as compared to a nightclub or theater for example). Walking tours considering adding pedal power to their service must first look at the primary piece of equipment needed - a bicycle.

The tours mentioned in the Cooper article above are "Bring Your Own Bicycle" (BYOB), with no option to rent one as apart of the ticket price. If overhead costs are a concern when expanding a walking tour to include bicycles, simply making the event "BYOB" eliminates that concern.

If a historical walking tour has eight tours day, it is relatively easy to add a ninth tour for bikes to the schedule (New! - Sunset bike ride tour just added...). The bike tour route can be the same as the walking tour route, with all the same stops, but the elapsed time it takes will be shorter as traveling by bike is faster than walking.

If the resources are available, the established walking tour can be the provider of the bicycles. As seen in the photo above, the type of bicycle used on a bike tour will be one designed for ease of use and comfort. Using simple one-speed "comfort bikes" helps keeps costs in-check as they need much less maintenance than multi-speed bicycles seen on the Tour de France. Many of the major bicycle manufactures have bikes specially designed for comfort and offer volume purchase discounts ("fleet sales").

Finally, when considering how to add bicycles to a walking tour, there is a third option for equipment costs - a cooperative effort with a local bicycle rental shop.

In the Napa valley area of northern California there are several dozen scenic tours that are conducted on bicycles. The tours are BYOB or "all inclusive" replete with a comfort bicycle as part of the price. The tours are cooperative efforts between established sightseeing companies and local bike shops combining the two specialties into one shared businesses endeavor  If the costs of the bicycles are prohibitive, and BYOB doesn't match customer demographics, tour operators can contact their local bike rental shop and ask for a quote on being the supplier of the bike tour.

How to add bicycles to a walking tour as a big ticket upsell

After reviewing the available equipment options, a walking tour operator can look ahead to the additional revenue that comes from adding a special bike tour to their daily roster. Mentioned earlier, the time elapsed conducting the tour on a bicycle is less than the same route taken by foot. How this is put into a revenue generating practice is up to the guide.

For example, in the restaurant business turn around time for tables ("flip") is a critical consideration. The more frequently a table is "flipped" the more money is made. That concept is directly applicable to tours. Since biking a route will conclude much faster than walking, the number of individual tours that can be conducted in day is increased. More tours per day equals more money.

Conversely, the idea of "long format" sightseeing tour can be just as lucrative. A bike tour can span a longer route than a walking tour, but asks the same amount of energy for its participants. A 1 mile walking tour could be expanded to be ten times longer and include more points of interests than are practical for a walking tour. Since this type of "long format" tour provide more value to its participants, a higher price could be charged - yet take the same amount of time as the "short format" tour on foot.

How to add bicycles to a walking tour starts with the ticketing software being used. The way tickets for an establish scenic walking tour are sold will need to be modified for the inclusion of the new bike tour.

If the bike tour is to allow BYOB as an option, the ticketing software must be able to present that information as a polite question during the ticket buying process ("Do you have your own bike?"). If the bicycles are being provided, that is a significant upsell compared to the BYOB ticket price. Ticket buyers will most likely expect a photo of the bike and a brief description before having the confidence to click the buy button and not every online ticketing software can provide that rich experience.

The ThunderTix plan for guided tours offers the tools to make equipment rental, like bicycles, a lucrative ticket upsell. We can help you tailor your walking tour to include one extra bike tour a day since our software automatically updates the schedule displayed on your web site. In addition to adapting to your tour schedule and last minute route changes, our technology can create an all inclusive ticket package ("Bicycle, helmet, map and coupon voucher for lunch all included with this ticket") that sells for a higher price.

Plus, we offer easy to set-up custom survey option that you can present during the ticket buying process. Surveys results will let you know who needs a bicycle, and who is bringing their own with them, for each tour.