Temperature's warming up, time to get your bike out!

It is hard to believe that we're still in February and reaching temperature in the 60s (who said global warming was fake news? Oh, right ... ). Nevertheless, it's time to take your bicycle out and go for a ride. 

New York city has numerous bike lanes across Manhattan (as Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Bronx do),  but it's not always clear where you can actually ride safely. Experienced riders would know where to go, but being new in the city, it can seem hazardous to ride among the cars and reckless taxi drivers. It's actually fairly safe, especially if you ride along the dedicated bike lanes.  

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The good news is that New York City has made a priority to increase the number of dedicated bike lane in the last years, and the network has already significantly expanded. In 2015, the bike lane network had already reached an impressive 1,000 miles, and as this 2016 press release states:

New York City has committed to installing over 15 miles of physically protected bicycle lanes in 2016, the most of any year on record. 

2017 is looking good, and we're ready to hit the road. The Department of Transportation (DOT) released last year in March an updated version of the available bike routes, so we expect them to release a new one around the same time this year and will update this blog with the latest details.

TOUR OPERATOR FINDS CREATIVE NEW WAY TO UTILIZE ONLINE MARKETING

POSTED BY JAMES MELCER

 

Harlem is one of New York’s most popular neighborhoods for worldwide accommodations leader Airbnb, and one creative local tour operator has found a way to turn this into a major marketing opportunity for her business.

I Bike Harlem founder, Maxine Daniels, describes exactly how she is marketing her business through Airbnb below...

"Airbnb sends out a monthly newsletter to their network of hosts in the neighborhood and they always include I Bike Harlem in their newsletter, asking hosts to make sure they invite their guests to take tours with us and they also do social media posts promoting us."

Talk about smart marketing!  Way to go Maxine!  As the tour and activity industry continues to evolve smart and creative online marketing, like what Maxine has done, is helping companies get an edge over their competition.

http://skift.com/2015/09/21/bike-tour-operator-uses-airbnb-to-bring-harlem-culture-to-guests/

GISO Take:  How are YOU branching out from the traditional online marketing channels to drive more bookings at your tour or activity business? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Building a Tours and Activities Business on the Back of Airbnb

 

It’s not just hosts who are riding Airbnb’s coattails and creating businesses. Small tour operators are working with hosts to draw attention to their activities and Airbnb is quick to help them do that to give it a neighborhood-friendly image.

— Dan Peltier

Airbnb guests in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, like anywhere, receive a variety of welcomes and amenities during their stay, though one increasingly common denominator these uptown guests find in their rooms is a gift bag from a local bike tour company.

Beyond travel startups that arrange cleaning services or offer pricing analytics for Airbnb hosts, tours and activities startups that work with guests have also grown out of the home-share company’s model.

These include I Bike Harlem, which offers bike tours of Harlem that expose travelers to the history and food of the neighborhood. Less than a year old, it’s already developed numerous relationships in the local Airbnb community, and it helps that founder Maxine Daniels is a host herself.

Daniels didn’t found I Bike Harlem specifically because of Airbnb but the growing number of hosts and guests in the neighborhood boosted its visibility during its first summer season. Harlem is one of New York’s most popular neighborhoods for Airbnb, owing to its position as one of the more iconic neighborhoods as well as hotel companies’ slowness moving into the area (Starwood’s Aloft Harlem being one of the few exceptions).

She knows many of the more than 1,000 Airbnb hosts in Harlem and held a reception for hosts at her shop earlier this year to introduce them to her tours. Daniels hopes hosts will give I Bike Harlem T-shirts and information pamphlets to their guests.

Airbnb originally approached Daniels a few months ago when the company heard about the type of experience she wanted to create for tourists visiting Harlem.

“I had a conversation with Airbnb and they really liked what I was trying to do because they were looking for local businesses in New York City that want to keep tourists in neighborhoods, and they decided to interview me and feature me and I Bike Harlem on their blog,” said Daniels.

“Airbnb sends out a monthly newsletter to their network of hosts in the neighborhood and they always include I Bike Harlem in their newsletter, asking hosts to make sure they invite their guests to take tours with us and they also do social media posts promoting us. Most of the people I’ve had on my tours so far have found us on either TripAdvisor or Airbnb and I’m still figuring out a way to track which hosts are funneling the most guests to my tours. So far the hosts have been very helpful and point their guests in my direction if they’re looking for something local to do in the neighborhood.”

Daniels doesn’t pay for any advertising on Airbnb. Although hosts can promote on the site tours and activities they’ll personally offer guests, tour operators don’t have that ability.

Daniels’ decision to start a bike tour company coincides with a trend. A recent Skift podcast episodediscussed the steady rise in popularity of bikes as an efficient way for tourists to see and experience a city, paling in comparison to bus tours or even walking.

“Harlem is Manhattan’s largest neighborhood and biking is a great way to cover a lot of ground and get you close to the sites and people that make it special,” said Daniels. “The Airbnb traveler is someone who’s very adventurous and biking is obviously a great combination for that.”

Airbnb’s Work With Neighborhoods

No doubt keen to show it has a positive impact on small neighborhoods, Airbnb wants to work with community businesses and organizations that will enhance that perception.

Harlem Park to Park helps promote small businesses like I Bike Harlem and hopes to partner with Airbnb next year on some events it sponsors that showcase area restaurants and shops.

“Airbnb told me Harlem, along with the Upper West Side and parts of the Bronx, are their fastest-growing markets in New York City and that it had 220,000 room nights in Harlem alone in 2014,” said Nikoa Evans-Hendricks, founder of Harlem Park to Park. “That is staggering to me and it would be great for our organization to work with Airbnb because they have hundreds of thousands of guests staying in the area and could let them know what we offer.”

Evans-Hendricks said tourism spending is growing in Harlem, particularly in retail. Restaurants, too, are benefitting from tourists looking for signature Harlem dishes such as chicken and waffles. While she’s unsure if Airbnb guests should get most of the credit, it’s likely they’re playing a leading role.

Airbnb’s blog says its guests spent $18.1 million in Harlem last year, $9.7 million of which went to local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce announced its own partnership with Airbnb that’ll involve hosts and small businesses brainstorming ways to keep tourist spending in Brooklyn.

Airbnb Guests Support Small Businesses in Harlem

“Harlem is the largest neighborhood in Manhattan. so the best way to see it all is on a bicycle.”

Maxine has called Harlem home for over seven years and in that time she’s fallen in love with the deep sense of community, the amazing arts scene, and the beautiful tree-lined streets that are perfect for afternoon bike rides. 

She’s also an avid traveler who’s used Airbnb to explore cities like Madrid, Spain and Cartagena, Colombia. In each place she visits, Maxine takes bike tours to help see the communities through the eyes of a local.

When she returned from her last trip, she realized that travelers coming up to Harlem didn’t have good way to experience the neighborhood on two wheels. Maxine mulled over the idea of starting her own tour, and was given the affirmation she needed when her business plan won a competition held by the Harlem Business Alliance. I Bike Harlem was born.

“People from around the world love the culture, the history and the food that Harlem has to offer.”

I Bike Harlem offers 4-hour “bike and bite” tours through the streets of Harlem. Along the ride, travelers peddle by the landmark homes on Strivers Row, cruise through the historic paths of Marcus Garvey Park, one of Manhattan’s oldest public spaces, and stop to take pictures at the world-famous Apollo Theatre.

Biking can work up an appetite, so Maxine makes sure the people on her tour don't leave hungry. As part of the experience, they stop for an authentic soul food buffet at Jacob Restaurant, and end the tour at Make My Cake, for what Maxine says is the “most delicious dessert in Harlem.”

On many of her tours, Maxine finds out that she has something in common with her guests - they’re using Airbnb to explore a new city too. 

“I think Airbnb is awesome for our neighborhood because it’s bringing more travelers here. And when they stay here, they shop here, they eat here, they go to events up here. Plus, I’ve definitely had more and more travelers signing up to take my bike tours that are staying with Airbnb hosts in the neighborhood.” 

In fact, Airbnb guests keep 42 percent of their spending in the neighborhood where they stay — and that’s a big boost for local businesses like I Bike Harlem. 

“Airbnb hosts in the area bring more revenue to Harlem. The boost from the guests spending at our businesses helps make our community a more fun and diverse place to live and visit. Airbnb really benefits everyone in the community.”

Exploring Harlem

Welcome to I Bike Harlem! If you want to truly see the beauty of Harlem you must take our Bike Tour. It is by far the best way to really experience Harlem. Our tours include an experienced tour guide, a comfortable bike, a helmet, and food from Harlem's most exquisite cuisine. See the images of some of our tours below.

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We Are Hiring!!

If you are interested or know someone that is interested in becoming a tour guide for I Bike Harlem please contact us via email at info@ibikeharlem.com or go to the contact tab and enter your information and qualifications. Harlem is a beautiful neighborhood full of rich history, culture, and entertainment. We are excited for the upcoming season and we look forward to hearing from you!

An Authentic Harlem Experience from "Bike to Bite"



Welcome to I Bike Harlem

Harlem is a neighborhood in upper manhattan just north of Central Park. 

Although world famous, Harlem may be New York’s best kept secret with some of the city’s most interesting architecture, best southern cuisine, soulful music, and interesting culture. Harlem’s history is also one of the city’s most dramatic; having gone through many ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic changes over the past 400 years. Our goal is to bring awareness to the long imbedded history and roots in Harlem as well as promote health and fitness.

We hope you enjoy our tours!