Local businesses gear up to welcome two-wheeled tourists

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Windsor Star/Kelly Steele



Daryl and Barb Towns have watched cyclists and bikers zip by their business on County Road 50.

Their business, Towns Estates Bed and Breakfast, is on the wine tour route which is frequented by tourists. The Towns have a sign out front identifying their business and even a website, but they couldn’t connect with the two-wheeled tourists.

The Towns decided they needed some help and this week attended a Two-wheeled Tourist Workshop in Leamington designed to educate businesses on how to get market-ready.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island partnered with Ontario’s Southwest, Leamington and Hog for Hospice to plot ways to attract more cyclists and bikers — and their disposable income — to this region of quiet country roads and stunning waterfront vistas.

Chris Hughes, of BC Hughes, a tourism consulting firm out of Owen Sound said the workshop was an opportunity for businesses to learn how to diversify and bring in new business from two-wheeled tourists.

He said there is a current growth in that area of tourism so if people can adapt their business in the right way to cater to those markets they can make some money. Simple things like providing bike racks for bicycles or a garage or parking areas for motorcycles are little things that go a long way.

“In rural communities things are changing and being able to embrace tourism is important,” he said. “By doing a few small things you can suddenly become known for that use and get some business from it.”

The Towns left the workshop with some great tips on how to make their bed and breakfast more attractive to two-wheeled tourists. At the top of their list was to make sure those visitors know they have all the amenities desired like bike racks and a storage spot for motorcycles. They are also looking at attaching a bike friendly sign to their business.

“We had always thought more about the overnight wine tour visitors as our clientele,” Barb said. “But this has opened up my eyes to a complimentary thing we could offer. It’s nice to know the different avenues we can pursue to grow our business.”

Lynnette Bain, vice-president of Tourism Programs and Development with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, said the timing of the workshop is perfect with the Hogs for Hospice event July 29-31, which is expected to bring thousands of bikers to Leamington.

“We are bringing this to the businesses so they can create a welcoming environment for the motorcyclists,” Bain said. “What we are learning from our experts is how you can welcome them and it’s really just basic stuff like special parking.”

Bain said the workshop was also a great opportunity to dispel the myths around bikers. She said of  bikers that come to these events, it’s the one per cent that are your stereotypical bikers.

“The demographic is really quite attractive for businesses,” she said.

“They have annual incomes over $80,000 and they are professionals like doctors, lawyers that own these very expensive bikes. And, they are just looking for the fun atmosphere, great food and long rides.

“It’s a very social thing and that’s what our businesses are learning.”