When I was younger, I did not have a car, so I bicycled just about everywhere I needed to go. One summer, to take a college exam, I rode my bicycle from my home in Cleveland to Bluffton College (now Bluffton University) in western Ohio. It took me from sunrise to sunset to do it, but I made the almost 140-mile trip in one day. I was naïve back then and don’t remember riding with a helmet or toe clips. Oh, to have that energy again but I still ride some today. I thought about that trip while writing my recent article on Priority Bicycles and bike lending programs.
I realize location and other factors come into play when it comes to a bike lending program but if you do make bikes or e-bikes available for your guests, I applaud you. They are a great part of a sustainability program and offer many other benefits as well: calorie burning, zero or almost zero emissions, access to unique places where cars cannot go, and are a great branding or guest amenity packaging opportunity for a property.
Over the years I have come across a lot of hotels and resorts that offer bikes for guests. Search on “bicycle” on Green Lodging News and about 160 articles pop up. Every Element hotel has a Bikes to Borrow program.
One Less Maintenance Worry
I recently spoke with Lauren Jones, Director of Partnerships for New York-based Priority Bicycles, to not only learn more about her company but to also get a rundown of the best practices for bike and e-bike lending in a lodging environment. Priority Bicycles caught my attention because the chains on their bicycles do not have to be greased. “All have a carbon-drive belt,” Jones told me. “It means no grease, no rust. It reduces maintenance by about 75 percent.” Reducing maintenance (labor) time is music to any hotelier’s ears, especially at a time when labor is difficult to come by.
Here is a rundown of the advice Lauren shared about bike lending programs:
First, she says, “Understand the style of riding your guests will be doing.” A hotel in hilly San Francisco will need a different type of bicycle than a hotel in Dallas.
“When you approach a bicycle program, make it a branded experience,” says Lauren, who has a background in fashion and design. A custom painted bicycle, with the brand’s colors and logo, positioned in the lobby can help publicize and increase use of a bicycle lending program. Bicycle lending can also be packaged with other amenities—as a getaway picnic for example. “Most hotels offer them as part of a guest amenity package,” Lauren says.
“Number the bicycles so it is easy to keep track,” she adds. “We number the bicycles behind the seat.”
Staff Education Important
“We have a recommended safety checklist,” Lauren says. “We give staff the basic training. When we set up a hotel with bicycles, we will set up an online call and go through best practices.” You should also partner with a local mechanic and have them come through and safety check each bicycle on a regular basis. “Put air in the tires. Get everything tightened,” Lauren says.
With an electric bicycle, charging is the biggest difference. “We suggest buying spare batteries,” Lauren says. “It is a helpful thing. It takes an hour to get a full charge. How long a charge lasts depends on the way the bike is ridden.” In eco-mode, 30 miles can be expected. In turbo mode the miles will be less.
In regard to how many bicycles to purchase, it depends of course on property size, but Lauren suggests six to 10 bicycles at first. (A property in the Maldives has a 450-bicycle fleet.)
“We always recommend some type of waiver,” Lauren adds.
Know the Bicycle’s Warranty
When making a bicycle purchase, ask about warranty as well. “Our warranty is five years on forks and frame and one year on parts,” Lauren says. “Warranties typically do not cover the wear and tear that a bicycle will have from high usage, however, we have a customer service team available 365 days a year to help guide partners through mechanical fixes and sourcing replacement parts.”
Finally, as has been done at Element hotels, make bicycle maps available to guests. Highlight different routes while explaining distance, difficulty and what guests can explore along the way.
Got bicycle lending tips to share with our readers? I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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