Rental Business Hub: Over 1.2 million people a month search for bike rentals in the U.S.

We came across some great research on online searches for bike rental from the Rental Business Hub

…Did you know that over 1.2 million people search for bike rentals alone on Google? In a closer analysis, Google Insights shows a 17% increase from 2010 to 2011, and forecasts an even larger growth spurt for 2012.

The numbers indicate that shoppers are actively searching for bike rentals online, meaning there is a huge opportunity for bicycle stores across the country. Today’s consumer is not only searching for your products online, but they are looking to book online. When they’re hungry, they make reservations online through OpenTable. When they want to take a trip, they book on Expedia, Kayak, Hipmunk and a host of other online travel portals.

  • In 2010, over 50% of people booked their travel online
  • 58% of customers research a product of service online prior to buying
  • Online bookings are projected to grow an average of 8.1% each year from 2009 to 2014
  • U.S. online transactions grew by 11% in 2009 despite the global economic recession

When a customer reserves a table at a restaurant on OpenTable, they make their reservation online and expect the table to be ready upon arrival. Why should consumers expect less from your bike rental business? What are you doing for your business to convert that online traffic into online revenue?

With Velolet, bike shops can be provide the customer service they have come to expect from travel sites and sites like Open Table It takes no time at all to get you up and listed and providing the services that 1.2M people look for when trying to rent a bike.

Bicycle Retailer: Retailers see rental drop-off [from bike share programs]. Get in front of them with Velolet

In Bicycle Retailer and Industry’s Year in Review they report that for 2011, “Retailers see drop-off in rental business as bike share programs take off in major U.S. cities”  Probably pretty frustrating for the Bike Shop we’re guessing!  So, what to do?  Well, get in front of these bike share programs by exposing your bike fleet to the travelers/cycling community BEFORE they arrive at their destinations by listing on Velolet.

Bike Share programs exist and they are a great way to allow travelers to see the city… but they don’t necessarily fit the bill for everyone.  What if you could make arrangements prior to taking off for you destination and get a ride that better suits your cycling passion from reputable bike shops that can really offer you something guaranteed to be there and something you would want to ride.  Perfect example, events like SXSW make bike shops and Velolet a strong alternative to the bike share programs.  Prior to your trip, you book your flight, hotel AND BIKE with Mellow Johnnys.  When you get there, you aren’t hoping to grab a bike-share bike, your week long bike reservation is there and waiting for you when you arrive.

Velolet makes it easy for the travelers to search a centralized and standardized platform for just the bike they need for the ride they want to do in their size.  Then let the travelers sign waivers electronically and make the reservation and payment so when they arrive, the bike is prepped and ready.

So, rental drop-off because of a bike share program?  Doesn’t have to be that way… get to the finish line first by letting the traveling cyclist rent from you before they even touch down at their destination.  Velolet

Discovery Channel – Velolet Bike Rental Hub Connects Cyclists with Bicycles

Discovery Channel Contributor Derek Markham put together a nice write up on Velolet.  Can’t thank him enough for the kind words and the exposure to our great service for bike owners.

…This service seems like a great way for bike shop owners to also get their bikes out and working for them, instead of waiting until someone calls or walks in asking about the bike. It also seems a natural fit for travelers, who might want the option to cruise around on a bike while at their destination, or who get the urge to rent a mountain bike after seeing some sweet trails nearby, or who get drafted into ‘just a little road ride’ by their cycle-crazy relatives.”

Read more here and thanks again to Derek and Discovery Channel

Frictionless, not just for cars or lodging

Brendan Mulligan at Techcrunch recently wrote about reducing friction for things like car rental and lodging.  It also applies to bike rentals, and we don’t mean adjusting the brakes or greasing the bearings.  No what Brendan is referring to is the friction involved in selling a product or service.  The more you reduce the friction for your customer, the better experience he/she has and that’s important.
Using the format Brendan used, he shows us an example of a hailing a cab vs. using Uber.  The complete hassle and friction is reduced significantly in the Uber model.  Much like Uber, Velolet reduces friction for its bike rental customers versus your normal in-store bike rental process.

Here is generally what you need to do to get a bike rental at a shop:

  • Find a Bike: Search online in countless Google, Bing or Yahoo searches, drill down to the bike shops listed, search their site for anything that says bike rental and if there are no rentals, start the process over again.
  • Making a reservation: Call the bike shop.  Try to get the person in charge of bike rentals on the phone (sometimes a long wait as the bike rental person is either the owner or sales lead and they could be helping a customer.)
  • Pay and Waivers: When you arrive, fill out a waiver with all your details, provide a credit card for processing.
  • In store pickup: Wait until you arrive at the destination and hope your they have a bike in your size.  Wait sometimes up to 30min for them to “prep” your bicycle so and make adjustments so you can get your rental.

Here is the Velolet experience:

  • Find a Bike: Open Velolet website and search for bikes at your destination city. Filter your results to your size and put in your dates/time for pickup and drop off.  Bike are presented (many times with pictures) and you select one and proceed to payment with a single click.
  • Make Payment and process waiver: Secure reservation with credit card for EXACT bike and click online waiver.
  • In store pickup: Walk in to the store, provide reservation confirmation number.   Bike shop is aware through prior notification of bike reservation of the exact bike to prep and have ready.  Store manager, wheels out the bike and you’re on your way (sub 5 minutes)
Between the two processes, the old method can take significant time and effort (friction) and in the end, doesn’t really secure a reservation for anything.  With Velolet, your reservation, waivers, payment and EXACT bike are secured.  The bike shop also is given a heads up ahead of time so the bike is prepped and presented and they don’t have to handle any paperwork either.  Both parties (bike renter and bike owner) have just experienced a “frictionless” experience for bike rentals.
So, if you’re a bike shop and want to reduce the friction for your customers, come on over to Velolet and let us put a little grease on the bike rental process.  Your employees will be happy and for certain, your customers will too.

Velolet Giving Back: Break The Cycle – Full Cycle Bicycle Shop

A few months ago I was asked to get involved in a fantastic group called Full Cycle.

Full Cycle is a nonprofit bicycle shop in south Minneapolis that offers a six-month, paid internship program for homeless youth. They employ, train and support homeless youth, teaching them bike repair and hands-on business skills including resume writing, interviewing skills, sales, customer service and overall professionalism.

Tonight I’m participating in a fantastic fundraising event call Break The Cycle

I couldn’t be more pleased to volunteer and offer assistance to this fantastic organization.  Please take a few minutes to watch this great video and if you are interested in volunteering or helping out in some way, please let me know.

–Dan Cleary, CEO, Velolet The Bike Rental Hub

Boulder Shop Shows Bike Rentals Are A Profitable Addition

As Bicycle Retailer kicks off its Denver Dealer Tour in Boulder, CO, they interviewed shops in the area asking them questions about their business.  One shop in particular that struck us, was Doug Emerson, owner of University Bicycles (U-Bikes) because he commented about how bike rentals can really be a great profitable addition to your bike shop.

…Doug Emerson …started University Bicycles …Emerson opened his first store in March 1985 in a basement on Boulder’s historic Pearl Street. He rented bikes. “I killed it,” he said with a smile. Renting bikes to foreign exchange students put enough money in his pockets to move a short distance up Pearl Street to open a full-service store.

Today U-Bikes, as most locals call it, sells upwards of 3,800 units a year—mostly Specialized—and his rental business is bigger than ever. This year Emerson said he will generate about $150,000 in rentals, which he then sells as used bikes. “It’s a very nice business,” he adds.

There are many places like Boulder and many opportunities to generate the kind of bike rental business that Doug does. At Velolet, we can provide you the in-house bike rental reservation platform that give you all the tools you need to manage your bike rental fleet and exposure your bikes to millions of travelers looking to rent when they travel. and we’ll send you the “quick start guide” to answer all your questions and show you how you can be up and running in minutes.

The Feedback Loop Provides Continuous Improvements for Bike Shops and Bike Rentals

One of the great aspects of Velolet is the direct Feedback it can provide to bike shops and to potential renters.  We’ve seen the way that feedback works on all kinds of sites like eBay, Airbnb, Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor and countless other sites.  What this provides is a candid assessment of how the transaction went and allows, in the case of the bike shop’s bike rentals, a measure for constant improvement.

Currently, there is not much of a feedback loop to improve a bike shop’s service, specifically for bike rentals.  However, what we discovered over the past few months is that when prompted, the Renters actually provide pretty good constructive feedback, both positive and negative.  What we’ve seen however, is that the bike shops have improved their service to address any negative comments and it is seen in the  recent comments:

  • Sun Sep 18, 2011 04:43PM – Great rental from a quality shop
  • Sun Sep 11, 2011 06:09PM – Bike was Brand new. Bikes were ready, waiting for us when we came in. Great service
  • Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:56PM – My experience was great…super staff, made sure it was perfect for my ride and picking it up and dropping it off was a breeze.

That feedback provides a mechanism for all parties including Velolet.  We’re not perfect but like our bike shops, we’re constantly improving and that is what matters to customers.  Addressing their issues and making it easy for them.

The feedback is great and we’d be remiss if it didn’t show how online bike rentals really improve an otherwise onerous process.  With Velolet, the reservation, waivers and payment is all made online.  This helps the bike shop “prep” your bike ahead of time and have it ready to go.  That helps the bike shop and it provides a great convenience for the Renters (as seen in the feedback comments).

We’re going to continue to improve and so are our customers.  Feedback is key to that constant improvement.  That can only benefit the Renter/consumers in the long run.

Bike Manufacturer Demo Fleets, Turn Them Into Bike Rentals

As we started to prep for Interbike and plan our discussions, we sat down with a few friends who work for a US distributor of bikes a few weeks ago. We were talking bike rentals with them, seeking their advice given their acute insight to the bicycle industry.  We asked about demo bikes.

As background, demo bikes are a usual part of a manufacturer’s or distributors sales program designed to allow consumers to “try” before buying.  These demo bikes are usually used as part of an overall Demo program that the brand managers develop as part of their sales and marketing plans.  Trek Factory Demo is a great example.

The problem with these and many other programs like this is they are limited many times to only a day or two in a particular city, like Interbike’s Outdoor Demo Sept 12-13 in Las Vegas.  This event in particular points out a couple of issues.  First, Interbike isn’t designed for consumers, it’s for dealers (bike shops).  Second, with consumers, who already have a limited window of time because of family and friend commitments, can many times miss the day the demo bikes are in town, meaning there are limited opportunities to “try” the bikes.  Last, we also learned that many smaller manufacturers just simply don’t have the budget to roll-out a nationwide series of Demo Days.  They have the demo bikes but using a traveling caravan to host Demo Events can be cost prohibitive so they limit their demos to the IBD “buying” events, without any real plans to get consumers on those bikes.

Case in point, we come to find out that this distributor has almost a stockpile of demo bikes provided to them from a European bike manufacturer that they use throughout the year as demos.  Because the number of demo events are limited and a real pain to deal with in terms of shipping logistics and cost, 90% of the time the bikes sit in a warehouse collecting dust.  Just the opposite of the sales goals of a demo program, right?

So we asked, why not rent them out when they are not being used? They seem so under utilized and not effectively getting to the consumers to sample.  The answer, we are not set up to deal with that and the bikes are only in a single location.

Hold on a second, we said. The goal is to get more and more people to put their butts on bikes so they can try them out because if you can really try the bike out, you might be more inclined to buy one. Right?

So here was our idea:

  1. Consign those bikes out to your top 20 shops/locations and list them for rent on Velolet. Get them out to places throughout the country like California, Oregon , New York, Colorado, Texas, Florida, etc..  Use the IBDs as your sales and marketers.
  2. Let the IBD earn the bike rental income as an incentive to provide your sales and marketing.  The rental income can be used to buy those consigned bikes
  3. Immediately following the demo rental, the consumer can be provided a direct promotional incentive (from the manufacturer or IBD) to purchase the bicycle.  That promotional incentive can be anything from the rental fee applied to the cost of the purchase or other direct factory incentives
  4. It also doesn’t matter whether you are a big or a small manufacturer, by putting even 1 or 2 bikes at your dealers, you provide a much larger exposure then your current program which will inevitably lead to higher sales.Dan Cleary, Velolet, Lazer, Dealer Camp

Velolet can handle the entire process, working with the IBDs directly. Don’t forget we cover the liability insurance so everyone is protected.  We also collect a tremendous amount of data that the distributors and manufacturers can use to see rental trends and conversions and customize their demo sales program as needed.

What does this all Velolet program accomplish? It gets more people trying your bikes which inevitably leads to increased sales. That’s the goal right? It also provides the IBD the ability to earn income to buy the consigned bikes for end of season sales, all while earning rental income.

We will be stopping by your booths at Interbike and we would love work out a gameplan with you. Trust us, it is worth your time. After all, we are the best online bike rental resource for your customers to find bike rentals.

Tuesday Tips from Coach Jimmy Riccitello – Stick to your Training plan, Rent a Bike

With the huge growth over the years of triathletes and cyclists, so comes the growth of many other aspects like coaching, training, participating in events, and attending camps.  All those aspects can also include having to travel with your bike.  As coaches like expert Jimmy Riccitello points out in his weekly Tuesday Tips, renting a bike can be a great option and one less hassle or stumbling block in your training plan.

If you haven’t looked in a while, bike shops throughout the country are now adding top of the line bikes for rental like Cervelo, Trek, Specialized, Giant, Ridley, Scott, Raleigh and Cannondale and can be many times, far less expensive than shipping your bike and taking the chance it gets damaged in flight.

Just take a look at Trisports who has been doing bike rentals in Tucson They are renting out bikes like the 2011 Cervelo P2 for a little over $200 per week and that’s with top of the line Shimano Dura Ace.

As more and more shops continue to rent bikes and use services like Velolet that make it easy to make your reservations, you’ll begin to see that the bike rentals in Tucson, bike rentals in San Diego, bike rentals in Portland, etc. will increase in quality and quantity.

What can you do?  Tell your local bike shop to start listing on  It’s free and it helps keep you on your training plan.  You stay on your training plan and you will make Coach Jimmy proud.