Looking ahead to the 2020 holiday season, it’s a good time to consider new attractions and facilities for your caravan park, in terms of generating extra revenue, raising your profile and attracting additional custom from locals, holidaymakers and visitors to your area.
Of course, new ventures are always a major consideration, in terms of outlay, time in-put, logistics and staffing, but one on-site service that’s proving increasingly popular at caravan parks of varying sizes, is a bike hire facility.
For many of us, the idea of enjoying a spot of cycling on a caravan holiday is very appealing, but the practicalities of transporting the bikes and accessories can sometimes prove too difficult if you’re not an avid cyclist and you are also pressed for space in the car! Bike hire is often a popular choice for family groups, occasional cyclists or the adventurous amongst us who fancy trying mountain biking trails for a day or two.
We called on Michael Kercel of cycling experts Raleigh www.raleigh.co.uk to offer some tips on setting up a cycle hire service on the caravan park –it may be just a little easier and a lot more lucrative for your business than you’d previously imagined.
“Raleigh are often approached by businesses wanting to provide a cycle hire fleet and also to give some practical advice to operators who decide to go for it and introduce a bike hire facility for their own clientele and visitors to the area too.
If you’d like to offer bike hire but don’t want to have to staff it and set it up from scratch, then some operators make a success of their venture by teaming up with a local independent cycle dealer who will run the scheme whilst the caravan operator takes rent and possibly a percentage of the hire business. This is often viewed as an ideal scenario if you are lucky enough to have a local dealer who is interested in an arrangement of this kind.
However, many operators choose to go it alone and start with a modest fleet of cycles, building up the stock in year 2 and beyond as the facility begins to take off.
As with any new venture it pays to do your homework and check out the competition. The footfall at your site and its location, plus your degree of enthusiasm for the project will all make a contribution to its success – as will your ability to promote the new facility on your website & other marketing material. It also needs to be publicised at grass roots level by displaying leaflets and cards in local pubs and shops, via selected holiday cottage companies and TICs for example.
Location, Location (Cycling) Location
If you are located close to established cycle trails , reservoirs and other good cycling terrain then that is a definite bonus. The nature of the local landscape will also play a part in establishing the types of bikes that you have on offer. For example: if you are set in typical mountain bike territory, then it almost goes without saying that you need to include mountain bikes or even electric mountain bikes in your hire fleet, whereas those caravan parks in flatter terrain with winding country lanes and safer spots for children to cycle are more likely to take the family hire route – especially if this is your core clientele.
No two caravan parks are the same so Raleigh can help you to identify suitable Raleigh or Raleigh Group company bikes. It makes sound sense to choose a fleet of reliable cycles from the same manufacturer and to have several of the same type of bike both from an aesthetics point of view and because of compatibility of spare parts and helping to keep the cost of stocking spare parts to a minimum.
If you’re near to a trail centre then it would be worth investing in a good hardtail Mountain Bike such as the Diamondback Heist 1, which you could typically expect to hire out at a day rate of around £20-25 - depending on your location, footfall & the local competition.
Consider the hire periods on offer – do you just want to hire out for full and half days, with a reduced rate for weekly hire, or would your setting also lend itself to hourly hire scenarios? You may also need to consider supplying locks if the hire bikes will be used to travel to local shops and cafes.
The new trend for power – assisted electric bikes ( or E-bikes as they’re sometimes known) is also proving a popular cycle hire attraction – especially for parents & grandparents who like to keep up with younger members of the family on cycling trips. There are also specialist e-mountain bikes that are proving a new experience for the adventure seekers too!
Popular electric hire bikes from the Raleigh range include the new Strada Trail Sport electric (below) a hardwearing electric bike that’s suited to both roads and tracks,.
For the e-mountain bike thrill-seekers our sister company Haibike’s high spec electric mountain bikes are proving a big draw. The Haibike SDuro Hard 7 4.0 pictured below is proving a popular choice amongst these new generation E-bikers. High performance electric bikes can often be hired out at prices in the region of £40 +per day so they’re suited to operators who enjoy a high footfall of mountain biking enthusiasts.
For the family market, Raleigh offers Burley cycle trailers for the little ones who aren’t yet ready to cycle independently for any distance and the high spec Raleigh Performance range is a good choice for children who are proficient peddlars aged from 5 to around 12 or 13 (depending on height).
Remember, additional revenue can be generated on accessory hire – such as helmets, locks etc. Other considerations include the fact that ideally you need a visible ‘shop front’ for your cycle hire facility - there’s no point having it if people cannot find it!
Similarly you’ll need to set up a workshop area as hire bikes need to be carefully maintained both for safety and also to protect the re-sale value of your investment in the fleet.
You’ll need to decide on a replacement policy - we’d recommend at least once a year although some of our customers prefer to have a rolling 6 monthly replacement programme.
Take time to consider staffing, opening hours, insurance and all the usual security protocols (eg returnable deposits. credit cards/ driving licence details etc through to floor bolts for bikes in storage.)”