How hard can it be!!

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bikeit
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How hard can it be!!

Postby bikeit » Tue 15 Sep 2015, 7:07 pm

Moderator edit: split from this topic

bikeit
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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby bikeit » Thu 17 Sep 2015, 7:48 pm

I cannot believe the damaging interpretations and the negative support for a person who is trying to start a new tourism business aimed at international and interstate visitors. I current am a tour guide driver for a commercial bus tour company and I got sick of driving 11 hours to show travellers our iconic tourist destinations through a bus window when there is so much more to experience when you ride a bike or hike along our many amazing trails. You know that, I know that, but our tourists don't know about me and what is possible for them, which is why I am trying to gain maximum exposure. I too am a bike rider and like bush walking. So I invested a lot of time money and effort to create a business model that caters to active people wanting to experience more that a bus tour,and why don't I ride with them?? Its because its a leisurely ride to Warburton, then a short walk to La La Falls. I supply the bikes and helmets because my proposed clients will not have them. I have a converted campertrailer that can carry 16 bicycles safely and securely, (if I ever have 16 bookings!)which I then drive up to Warburton. I provide Morning Tea at Mt Evelyn (which I must carry in a vehicle) Provide a BBQ lunch at Warburton (food which I must carry in a vehicle). Then escort them to La La Falls. My previous tour ended at Warburton at 4pm (remember, my clients are international visitors so their fitness level cannot be guaranteed. If I have room in my car I then drive them back to Lilydale (where they can have a nanny nap) with the bikes in tow in the campertrailer, then they take the train back to Melbourne. If more than 3 then they can experience a local bus back to Lilydale. I am a supporter and can not ride all the way with them. This is how all my tours are designed. Its easy to ride from A to B but sometimes you need a Sag from B back to A!!or to the next destination.
I can understand that as a local you can do this FREE anytime, but the people who have supported me and are coming on the ride interpret my advertising just as I meant it to be, and that is all I want is my International visitor to have an awesome experience and be impressed by our awesome landscapes and hospitality. I am not asking for free guides, that is your interpretation. Yes I am charging her $99 She has booked and paid via my website . Tourists like all inclusive prices so to Include bike, helmets, morning tea, transport is a necessary to gain attention, especially with the growing fit and active backpacker market.
But I have spent more than that on advertising and keeping my word in providing morning tea and lunch at my expense o all those coming. This is what I need to do to get my product out there and known. I have been informed many times that when setting up a new tourism business there will be many rejections. This is the killer part that demoralizes you but I intend to persevere and promote this amazing product in anyway shape or form.
When I did my research I found I could do bike tours all over the world. There are existing bike tour businesses in the rural areas but how many operate with a pick up and drop off in Melbourne offering a combination of biking and hiking?? None.
Now you can interpret this as spam or you could interpret this a a person who has something to offer to the international, interstate and local cycling community.
See my facebook page for reviews next week.
Robert van Meurs
Bike IT N Hike IT

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baudman
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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby baudman » Thu 17 Sep 2015, 8:21 pm

bikeit wrote:I supply the bikes and helmets because my proposed clients will not have them. I have a converted campertrailer that can carry 16 bicycles safely and securely, (if I ever have 16 bookings!)which I then drive up to Warburton. I provide Morning Tea at Mt Evelyn (which I must carry in a vehicle) Provide a BBQ lunch at Warburton (food which I must carry in a vehicle). Then escort them to La La Falls.


It sounds like a wonderful outing, and something I'd yearn to do if I was a tourist. However, I'm still somewhat amazed you don't employ a guide to escort them.

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GreenAlias
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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby GreenAlias » Thu 17 Sep 2015, 8:49 pm

bikeit wrote: ................... When I did my research I found I could do bike tours all over the world. There are existing bike tour businesses in the rural areas but how many operate with a pick up and drop off in Melbourne offering a combination of biking and hiking?? None.


If you're determined to overcome obstacles and get this venture growing you may need to tweak your business model a little until there is sufficient revenue to cover costs. I suspect that most potential customers would consider having a guide to be much more important than morning tea & lunch being included in the booking fee. Having an on-bicycle guide also means you only have to bring out the sag wagon when it's really necessary.

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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby Atomic Kitten » Thu 17 Sep 2015, 10:49 pm

GreenAlias wrote:
bikeit wrote: ................... When I did my research I found I could do bike tours all over the world. There are existing bike tour businesses in the rural areas but how many operate with a pick up and drop off in Melbourne offering a combination of biking and hiking?? None.


If you're determined to overcome obstacles and get this venture growing you may need to tweak your business model a little until there is sufficient revenue to cover costs. I suspect that most potential customers would consider having a guide to be much more important than morning tea & lunch being included in the booking fee. Having an on-bicycle guide also means you only have to bring out the sag wagon when it's really necessary.


Agreed. Particularly given there are fantastic places to eat at Warburton, and you are contributing back into the community there by purchasing from their shops. Your ongoing custom with them has the potential to develop into a relationship. You could possibly leave flyers or business cards.

Work smarter not harder can be a bit pithy but in this instance could actually work.

I'd only add a suggestion to not spam people -- I personally hate it and do not know of anyone who does not feel the same.

Good luck either way.

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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby bikeit » Fri 18 Sep 2015, 12:46 am

Employing a guide costs money, this puts the price up. Increases chance of staffing issues.
eg Guide for a day $300 plus super plus work cover. Lets say $350 ( plus I need to find one for the day of the tour so advertising?. They don't grow on trees and I don't have regular departures yet! Then I need to train them in the itinerary and expectations, uniform etc. ) So Dalai $35 an hour would mean you cost me $350 for 10 hours. You would need to help me load up the trailer and check bikes, 7am start returning to Lilydale 5pm.
It is a rail trail so it should be easy to follow without a guide. I meet them at cross roads and I provide them with maps.
Sag wagon, Driver $300 plus super plus work cover $350 plus vehicle hire? $100 per day plus fuel $200 per day if a minibus. Lets say $500 for driver car, fuel rego insurance etc. Plus I need to organise pick up and drop off during their business hours!!!8am -4.30pm!!!
Bicycle trailer maintenance repairs, insurance rego Lets say $500 P.A
Parks Victoria Licence fees $275 per annum plus $2.50 per person per day.
Public Liability. $2800 p.a
Foods serving licence $450 pa
Tourism accreditation $300 pa
Eco tourism accreditation $675 pa
Advertising to find clients. The sky is the limit, with brochures, ads, flyers, internet ads, Marketing guru, Pay to be in tourist display boards, student union halls, 20- 30% Commissions to selling agents.




If I got 6 on a Yarra Valley Warby tour I would have to recieve at least $150 per person so then need to allow for agents selling fees. Its now $180, plus they would need to pay for their own lunch in Warburton if lunch was not provided. And as they are international visitors who are wanting a stress less activity and do not want to make decisions , it is stressful being in another country trying to find something suitable to eat as everything is foreign and strange. Lets add $20 for lunch at a cafe, plus a transport card $15 because they need to get to Lilydale train Station for this tour. ( I buy the rolls and BBQ sausages in Warburton to contribute to the local economy.) That's over $200 for a little day outing. My research tells me that most travellers, especially backpacker are very price conscious. Why pay $350 to do my 2 day Great Ocean Road tour when they can pay $80 at a travel agent and do it in a day, which include city pick up, drop off, morning tea and lunch.
I successfully did my George Bass Coastal Walk/ Phillip Island Tour for 2 Kiwis. I charged them $149 each including lunch and penguin parade entry ($25pp). Feedback from them was that was a good price. Anything over $160 was too much. I made less than $200 profit from that day ($50 Penguin parade entry fees, $50 fuel, $12.50 Cake, sausages, rolls juice for lunch) not allowing for my fixed annual expenses. Up at 7am, got home at 11pm.
There is a bike hire shop in Warburton, but how do international and interstate tourists get there? He would not be happy to see my flyers there. Rival tourism business regularly take their competition flyers out of the display boards to give them prominence. I could have flyers in Warburton and my other destinations but I have been advised it is a waste of time and money because my potential clients have already gotton to the destination via other means. I need to focus on those who want to go to the destinations that my tours go to.
At the moment there is no revenue to cover costs.My largest booking number was a family of 5 doing the Surf Coast Trail. It takes at least 3-4 years for a new tourism product to start to gain momentum. If I had big bookings and numbers I would not be offering free tours. A key strategy for tour operators is to offer free tours to gain exposure, word of mouth advertising and product awareness for travel agents. Also to take the single booking even if it means losing money. But riding on your own is no fun,especially if you have booked a "Tour". I would even hire a guide if the market demands it and are willing to pay for it but the logistics requires me to be a supporter and the financial costings cannot afford a guide.. You may want a guide but there may be many more who do not want to pay over what they deem to be a reasonable price. There are people out there who are willing to spend the extra money to be provided with a more luxurious service, and my business model may change if I get that demand. but at the moment I am very wary of pricing and am just trying to find customers.
But I would like to thank you for your positive comments. It gets me thinking and logistic problem solving. You never know, you may need a driver and bike trailer to transport you on your own designed tour. And once again, please do not make this mean spam. Make it mean its a healthy discussion that could benefit members of the world wide cycling community.
Robert

peletor
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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby peletor » Fri 18 Sep 2015, 7:05 am

Why not make the tour start and finish in the same location? Bring a trailer on your bike for all the food, and come up with a backup plan should a tourist get too tired and need a lift. Problem solved :)

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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby Atomic Kitten » Fri 18 Sep 2015, 7:39 am

bikeit wrote:Employing a guide costs money, this puts the price up. Increases chance of staffing issues.
eg Guide for a day $300 plus super plus work cover. Lets say $350 ( plus I need to find one for the day of the tour so advertising?. They don't grow on trees and I don't have regular departures yet! Then I need to train them in the itinerary and expectations, uniform etc. ) So Dalai $35 an hour would mean you cost me $350 for 10 hours. You would need to help me load up the trailer and check bikes, 7am start returning to Lilydale 5pm.
It is a rail trail so it should be easy to follow without a guide. I meet them at cross roads and I provide them with maps.
Sag wagon, Driver $300 plus super plus work cover $350 plus vehicle hire? $100 per day plus fuel $200 per day if a minibus. Lets say $500 for driver car, fuel rego insurance etc. Plus I need to organise pick up and drop off during their business hours!!!8am -4.30pm!!!
Bicycle trailer maintenance repairs, insurance rego Lets say $500 P.A
Parks Victoria Licence fees $275 per annum plus $2.50 per person per day.
Public Liability. $2800 p.a
Foods serving licence $450 pa
Tourism accreditation $300 pa
Eco tourism accreditation $675 pa
Advertising to find clients. The sky is the limit, with brochures, ads, flyers, internet ads, Marketing guru, Pay to be in tourist display boards, student union halls, 20- 30% Commissions to selling agents.


No offence but you looked at those numbers and thought it was a good idea to get into it as a business? Do you have a big wad of cash to get started?

Do you have any bike maintenance experience?

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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby GreenAlias » Fri 18 Sep 2015, 9:00 am

bikeit wrote: .............. am just trying to find customers


From the figures & methodology outlined in your post (above) it's clear that you are trying to cater for the wealthy, lazy, pampered tourists - perhaps like the people you have seen on your bus tours. These sort of people are never going to ride bikes. You need to aim for the hardy backpackers & independent tourists (the sort that wouldn't be seen dead on a bus) who are fit & strong enough to do the journey - and relish more spartan conditions.

You need to be aware that when you enter into Forums like this and Melbourne Cycling on Facebook you are talking to people who have vastly more experience than you at organising bike trips - they understand logistics and the mentality of cyclists very well. The Melbourne Cycling group are doing a Warby Trail trip this Sunday SEE HERE. If you were to go on one of their trips you would gain an understanding of what cyclists expect.

This group (Bicycle Network) have been doing Warburton Trail trips for some years See Here - you'll find lotsa photos in the old 2010 thread here. These pictures show what cyclists are interested in.

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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby NightFallTech » Fri 18 Sep 2015, 10:16 am

GreenAlias wrote:
bikeit wrote: .............. am just trying to find customers


From the figures & methodology outlined in your post (above) it's clear that you are trying to cater for the wealthy, lazy, pampered tourists - perhaps like the people you have seen on your bus tours. These sort of people are never going to ride bikes. You need to aim for the hardy backpackers & independent tourists (the sort that wouldn't be seen dead on a bus) who are fit & strong enough to do the journey - and relish more spartan conditions.



I'd have to disagree a little, I've done a few bus tours (Multi-day in places like Jordan, plenty of easy one day bus trips), I'll sometimes book at the Hilton, and sometimes at a backpackers... and I ride, and I've ridden the Warby trail a few times.

Personally, If i was say a kiwi over here on holiday, I'd be looking for.

Transport from the city to Lilydale - Train would be a pain to figure out.
Bike & Helmet Hire - Probably a range of bikes to cater for different riders, be able to fit my pedals and have suitably sized bikes (there is where you may need a bike hire provider with a wide range of product)

A guide, somebody relatively fit to ride with the group, point out the sites, help with mechanicals.
Given arrival is in a town, I'd be happy to buy lunch, could easily build a relationship with COG cafe and arrive there for people to buy lunch
Transport, all the way back to the city.

I'd expect that to cost about $99, and to be in a group of perhaps 8-10 ..

So your funding would be on the range of $800-$1k per trip. Driver required from morning pickup to end of day drop off (and a mini bus), Guide required for a few hours for ride only.


If i was looking to do this "On the cheap", Backpacker style, I'd be looking for.

Getting myself to Lilydale
Being provided a suitable sized bike, able to fit pedals etc or tools provided so i can do this, Helmet, Water bottles etc.
A map.
A phone number for sag wagon support in case of mechanicals.
Ride with group, no guide to lilydale and back, knowing the sag wagon is available.
Return bike in Lilydale, get back on train.

I'd pay about $50-$60 for that, being primarily bike hire.

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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby bikeit » Fri 18 Sep 2015, 2:59 pm

Thank you for your replies.It really interesting to see the range of thoughts and knowledge on the matter.This all helps me to see what the market wants and thinks about bike tours and to see the mentality of some of the cyclists out there. My first impression about cyclists mentality and belief was on The Great Victorian Bike Ride. A few sections of the ride was the possibility of riding on a rail trail. One day we were informed that ALL riders must ride on the trail from Mansfield to Alexandra. No riding on the road. This was a direction given by the Police for our safety at the evening announcements. I was astounded to sit with a large group during dinner that night and their anger at the change in riding conditions. They were going to complain bitterly to the organisers about the change maybe because they had road bikes with "baloon "type tyres. I must admit,there were a lot of punctures on the trail. Plus I have ridden ridden with riders who make their claim of the road space and then get angry when car honk at them. For me if I had a choice between riding on a road designed for vehicles or riding on a trail, the trail would win every time. If you did not already know a life was lost on the road during the Great Vic Bike ride making my point more valid.
Thank you Green Alias, for your comments. As my regular job I do commercial driving tours of Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island and Grampians in a one day or 2/3 day formats. My research was done with my passengers who are hardy backpackers and independent tourists looking for small group adventure tours. They would be seen dead on a bus because the only way to see Victoria's iconic tourist destinations is by bus. No one does it by bike!! Feedback I get from my passengers when I present them with my ideas are that they love it and would definately prefered to do an active tour than a passive tour. They would have booked if they knew about it!! Bus has Max 24 seats,CBD pick ups at Melbourne Hostels and budget hotels.There is a lot of them and they contribute a lot to the tourism economy but are very price conscious. They too are a cyclist community but have a different mentality to cycling than locals. My figures are business start up costs that need to be covered when in operation. Perhaps take a look at other escorted and guided walks and bike tours and see what their pricing structure is like. You might find I am relatively cheap compared to the thousands you could pay others.
I too have organised bike tours and weekends away. Mainly with friends and with social groups and it was from their prompting that I started out this business model . They were impressed at my level of organising and achieving successful outcomes as well as problem solving skills. So yes, there are people who can organise bike tours and do it well but do they do it as a business concern? Do they offer bike hire, helmet hire, morning tea, transport for those who are not local. How much would you be prepared to pay? I successfully organised a group of 15 to ride on The Surf Coast trail to great success. Hired a bus, fed them gave them drinks, maps, guidance. Perhaps organising local social groups is different to organising commercial bike tours.Do your organisers meet the necessary guidelines, licences, accreditation to operate a commercial service. Technically, any social group that organises a ride and a surplus is made from it becomes a business venture. Rail Trail , Parks Victoria fees then apply, and a whole other range of fees.There is a lot more to organising tours that you may think in a social setting.
Thank you NightFall Tech for your comments.
I could pick them up from Melbourne CBD but If I have more than 3 then I need to hire a bus which adds $150+ to the cost and then I need to solve the logistics of only being able to pick the bus up at 8am from where I live and have it returned by 8am the next day. So in effect I would need to hire the bus for 2 days to do a 8am pick up from the city. It is doable but needs to be doable for every tour departure and numbers cannot be guaranteed.
Doing on the cheap is an option but not financially viable for me. I could get you to hire the bikes at Yarra Valley Bikes in Lilydale for $40 per day. leaving me $20 for all my time effort advertising costs business costs etc. Ride with you and point out the sites. get to Warburton at possibly 2-3pm then ride back to Lilydale. Would you do it even if it was for 10 people? Remember their is no guarantee on a travellers fitness level. Might even get back to Lilydale after closing time. What do I do about the bike then? How do I arrange transport at short notice in case of a mechanical breakdown or human breakdown if I have no sag wagon support? Your $99 figure is what I am charging so I am on the money,I have a range of bikes in a specially modified campertrailer that holds 16 bicycles and yes, ideally CBD pick up but then I have the above logistic problems to solve. My previous tours had no trouble understanding intructions on getting to Lilydale by Train. Most already knew the transport system with in the city and visitors are happy to get to pick up destinations if simple. Catching a train from CBD to end of the line at Lilydale was simple for my previous clients.

Thank you Atomic Kitten for your input. Yes I know those numbers are crazy but that is business reality. All businesses need to invest in time and resources and advertising. I am trying to keep my costs down as advertising could break my piggy bank account, hence the use of social media to advertise. I have seen my mentor and she said that the bad publicity that I am getting is the best publicity as people are engaged in it!! No I do not have a wad of cash. For my own sanity I need to view this as a hobby. Hobbies cost you money and you get pleasure from them. That is why I am juggling working as a tour guide, teaching secondary school student in Building & Construction and painting houses and trying to get bike tours happening.
Thank you to Peletor. I never thought of towing a trailer on the bicycle. Great idea. Just need to solve the problem of returning to Lilydale late if my clients are not fit or of differing fitness levels. having a sag wagon at short notice if necessary due to mechanical or human breakdown. On my last tour we left Warburton by vehicle at 4.15 pm after visiting La La falls. If we rode back, my clients might not get back to Melb until after 8pm. Then what about dinner? Is this a too long a day for a tourist who may need to catch a 6am flight the next day?
Please do not make this mean spam. Make it mean its a healthy discussion with someone who has a service to offer to the bicycling community. Remember your bicycling community is not the only one.
Thanking you

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Re: How hard can it be!!

Postby Atomic Kitten » Fri 18 Sep 2015, 3:18 pm

bikeit wrote:Thank you for your replies.It really interesting to see the range of thoughts and knowledge on the matter.This all helps me to see what the market wants and thinks about bike tours and to see the mentality of some of the cyclists out there. My first impression about cyclists mentality and belief was on The Great Victorian Bike Ride. A few sections of the ride was the possibility of riding on a rail trail. One day we were informed that ALL riders must ride on the trail from Mansfield to Alexandra. No riding on the road. This was a direction given by the Police for our safety at the evening announcements. I was astounded to sit with a large group during dinner that night and their anger at the change in riding conditions. They were going to complain bitterly to the organisers about the change maybe because they had road bikes with "baloon "type tyres. I must admit,there were a lot of punctures on the trail. Plus I have ridden ridden with riders who make their claim of the road space and then get angry when car honk at them. For me if I had a choice between riding on a road designed for vehicles or riding on a trail, the trail would win every time. If you did not already know a life was lost on the road during the Great Vic Bike ride making my point more valid.


I've ridden 1000s of km on the road and never died, making your point invalid.

The road is not designed for vehicles, it is designed for transporting humans, and a human on a bicycle riding on the road is doing just that: transporting a human.

In case you were wondering, vehicle registration does not pay for roads, either.

I am sure you always give plenty of room to cyclist when driving your bus/coach, but I have had more than one experience, as have many other riders here that they can be very dangerous and inconsiderate drivers. The attitude seems to be: cyclists are not allowed on the roads.

As for your mentor expressing positive vibes re: the negative reaction, perhaps you should consider the market that is reacting. Very few tourists here and Rail Trail rides to Warburton +/- return are already organised and conducted by private citizens, for free. It's not as useful as your mentor may be thinking, and that's possibly because she does not understand the market, and/or you have not communicated who it is that is reacting negatively to your spam and the attitude that is starting to leak into your posts.

I do wish you well with your endeavour. More people riding can only be a good thing.


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