Realised you get a lot of bikers in your local area and want to start hosting them? We spoke to the owners of Limetree House and Aurora B&B in Scotland to find out how you can provide for your biker guests and what you can do to market yourself to the wider motorbiking community.
Touring the winding roads across the Scottish Highlands.
The rush of air as they ascend Winnat’s Pass and traverse Snake Pass in the Peak District.
Flying along the English countryside and finally catching sight of Land’s End.
Wherever their journey, these biker’s will need somewhere to rest their heads at night.
This is where you come in. But how can you provide for this target market? You’ve noticed that your inn, b&b, hotel, or guest house, is close to a popular motorcycle route, but you aren’t quite sure how to reach out to the biking community. With so many popular motorcycle routes found all over the UK, it can only be a matter of time before you find yourself face to face with your first biker guests.
If you need a bit of a push, Katherine Clemmens from Limetree House in Moffat, Scotland, thoroughly recommends targeting motorcyclists. She says: “While they are often ‘larger than life’ personalities, we find them to be excellent guests, who respect our property and appreciate our efforts to accommodate them.”
But what can you do for them as bikers in particular?
You could try to tell them your best motorcycle pun and Yama-hahahaha your way into a good review, but our guess is that you’ll want slightly more substantial advice than a (somewhat terrible) joke.
Sure, you can learn from experience, but we’re here to provide you with a bit of a kick-start.
Location, Location, Location
One of the first things to consider is location; are there any particularly popular motorbike routes near you? Or if you are looking to start a new business, are there any routes you would like to be based near?
Richard and Jane, owners of Aurora B&B in Caithness, Scotland, said: “Bikers tend to look for good proximity to the routes they are following.”
With so many popular routes to be found across the UK, there are plenty for you to take advantage of, especially if you find a location close to not one, but multiple routes.
Katherine said: “Bikers often book multiple night stays [at Limetree House], so that they can go on different rides in the area.
“This area offers some excellent touring, and some years ago, the A708, (the road from Moffat to Selkirk), was voted ‘Favourite Road in Britain’ by bikers”.
Not only is Limetree House found near a number of popular routes, but it’s also ideally located as a stop-over for those travelling north on their way to the NC500, or those completing longer routes such as Land’s End to John O’ Groats.
Aside from the popular, national routes such as these, there are also plenty of ‘local’ routes that are great for bikers. Katherine said there are “13 circular routes, which all begin and end in Moffat.” As Limetree House is based in Moffat, Katherine said: “The plan of course, was that people use us as a base while touring, and they do!”
Found in the far north of Scotland, Aurora B&B is just one of many stop-over options for those travelling the NC500.
Richard and Jane said: “Our location tends to attract bikers completing the NC500 route because we are located less than a mile from it.”
“We are also located close to Orkney Ferries and John O’ Groats for the travellers completing the [Point-to-Point] route (Land’s End to John O’ Groats or vice versa)” – Aurora B&B
However, one of the downsides of being so close to routes such as this are that “bikers are unlikely to stay for more than one night, which drives additional changeover activity for us,” says Richard and Jane.
But if you look on the bright side, this high turnover rate gives you the means to reach more people, who may decide to stay again on future trips.
Knowing Your Audience
No matter what industry you work in, it’s always good to know your target market, although this can sometimes be a bit harder to do in the hospitality industry.
One week you could be hosting a family, or a couple in their retirement. The next week you could be hosting a pair of teenagers on their first road trip, or a group of middle-aged bikers. You can’t always be sure of who is going to walk through your doors and stay the night.
But if you find yourself close to popular biking routes, you can be sure to greet a variety of members from the biker community.
Katherine from Limetree house said: “We do get a lot of motorbikers and I would estimate that they comprise about 20% of our customers, which comes to a good income.
“The bikers that we tend to get are 40+ in age and are usually ‘hobby’ bikers who have come back to biking later in life. They tend to drive expensive, larger machines such as Harleys or BMWs.
“They drive expensive bikes, and these are not guests who want to rough it, otherwise they would camp or go to bunkhouses. They are more than willing to pay for good accommodation.”
She added: “I would thoroughly recommend targeting motorbikers because their average age and spending ability fits our target market very well.”
Aurora B&B’s Richard and Jane said: “In general, our rates are targeted at the mid-price range rather than budget, in line with the quality of accommodation and services that we provide.
“We also encourage our guests, who may wish to stay again in the future, to book direct through our website to avoid commission charges.”
Top 8 Tips For Hosting Bikers
- Know the local area and nearby routes
- Provide off-road parking
- Secure storage for helmets, boots and panniers
- Offer drying facilities
- Visor cleaning facilities
- Offer degrease hand-wash
- Know where the local garages are
- Provide access to a tool box
So, let’s say you’ve decided you are ideally located for biker guests and you want to start marketing yourself to this community. But what do they actually need from their accommodation providers?
In contrast to walkers, cyclists or drivers, guests who arrive on motorbikes will be on the lookout for a couple of amenities in particular.
One of the first things to be mentioned was parking facilities.
Richard and Jane said: “Of the bikers who have stayed, the requirements are generally the same. One thing they tend to look for, is off-road parking or secure storage for their bikes.
“We provide off-road hard-standing parking for bikes and can also provide secure garage storage if it’s required.”
Katherine says that they “have a large outbuilding beside the house which can accommodate up to eight motorbikes,” so Limetree House often gets group bookings.
She believes that the “truly important aspect of providing for bikers, is to let the biking community know we welcome them. Even nowadays, there is still a good deal of prejudice against bikers as a group.”
In contrast, Richard and Jane from Aurora B&B “believe that drying space and covered/secure storage are the most important facilities to have on offer.”
Richard says that “bikers tend to look for drying facilities” when booking accommodation, so they “specifically provide drying facilities and garage storage due to the nature of Scottish weather and it’s something that’s a much-welcomed provision.”
He said: “We have a heated drying area in our utility room available on request and can also provide use of a washer/dryer if it’s required. Guests can also access storage racks for helmets, boots and panniers.
“Although we haven’t had any specific requests, we also provide basic tools for any emergency maintenance and can give guests information on local garage services.”
Top 10 Bike Routes
- Point to Point
- North Coast 500
- North Coast 250
- North York Moors
- North Norfolk Coast
- Ultimate Lake District
- Ultimate Peak District
- Ultimate Snowdonia
- Faversham to Brighton
What else can I do?
You know what they say, ‘Knowledge is power’.
It’s important to do your research so that you are well equipped to provide the best service possible.
If your B&B or guest house has a number of popular biking routes nearby, it’s always a good idea to know the ins and outs of the area.
Guests might ask for route recommendations, things to do or places to visit whilst on their biking holiday.
Are there any quieter routes nearby for the bikers wanting to escape the crowds? Are there any roads with particularly stunning views? It’s up to you to know where the best pubs are, and which are the best garages should guests have any maintenance problems.
Food is also a major aspect of hospitality. Bikers might spend a long time riding through the countryside before they stop for food, so it’s always good to make sure you provide a “substantial breakfast option using good quality, local produce,” says Richard.
Katherine said her husband is “an excellent breakfast cook,” who often earns high praise from their guests, especially the bikers.
You could also go one step further for your biker guests and offer packed lunches for their journeys. Providing little things such as this, can help you to stand out.
If you haven’t already, it would also be a good idea to set up your own website. This way, people can see what your property looks like, find out about the surrounding area, make direct bookings and so much more.
There are plenty of different website builders you can use to build the perfect platform for your property.
Once you have your site up and running, you can also choose to advertise on different booking sites such as Expedia, Booking.com, AirBnB and other biker-specific accommodation websites.
Katherine said: “While it’s not always easy to set up a website from scratch, there a number of websites that target motorcyclists, which I would encourage fellow B&B owners to join.”
There are so many different booking channels that Richard said it can be “difficult to determine which ones will give [you] the best coverage,” but joining them and advertising your property on these sites opens you up to a wider audience.
Aside from advertising your property on different websites, whether they are OTA’s (Online Travel Agents) or other biker-specific sites, there are other ways you can market yourself to the biking community.
Advertise your facilities! It’s important to put your best foot forward and show off your property. Advertise the biker-specific facilities you have available for your guests to use during their stay.
If you are fully committed to hosting bikers, you might want to create a page on your website specifically targeted at these guests. This is where you can post about local routes, local garage information, facilities available and whatever you think your biker guests would like to see!
You can join biker friendly schemes such as the ‘Visit Scotland – Biker Friendly Scheme’ so that bikers know they are welcome, and you can provide what they need. You’ll also be able to advertise the scheme on your website and social media, helping you to stand out.
Circling back to Katherine’s advice, one of the most important aspects of marketing to the biking community is your attitude.
It’s important to let them know they are welcome. Display a positive attitude and a genuine desire to anticipate and meet their needs.
5 Top Tips for Marketing to Bikers
- Join biker-friendly schemes
- A specific page for biker guests on your website
- Advertise facilities available to bikers
- Positivity towards the biking community
- Join biker accommodation booking sites and
URLs To Note
This article was first published in Issue 43 of the Luxury BnB Magazine in October 2020:
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