Holidays by Cycle
Holidays by Cycle (www.holidaysbycycle.com) is the first internet based business that aims to bring together all cycle tourism related businesses in Europe. The primary aim is to provide a comprehensive listing of cycle friendly accommodation throughout Europe and link this to cycle hire and routes. The concept allows people to take cycling holidays throughout Europe and utilise dedicated routes, suitable accommodation and cycle hire resources with the minimum of planning.
The site is intended to appeal to all level of cyclists, from the experienced long distance riders to occasional cyclists, who prefer short routes. When complete, the site aims to have accommodation listings for every major European cycling country (France, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland…etc) and will place an emphasis on listing cycling friendly accredited accommodation. The site will also include specific “Cycle Cities” such as Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and detail information about bike share projects. Using the Open Cycle Map, the site will also show local routes, as well as having specific long distance Eurovelo routes mapped. To complement this resource, the site will feature article/guides from contributors in the field and will also have listings of organised tour providers. In summary, the site will provide a single point of reference in Europe for all of this information and be the first venture to do this.
Holidays by Cycle started out as a project to link holiday accommodation and cycle hire in the UK. As the idea gathered momentum, it became apparent that a European service of this nature was lacking, with a plethora of disconnected initiatives in different countries but no single point of reference. Added to this was a well-established European model within the cycle hire industry that encouraged the delivery of bikes to accommodation providers, so tourists could utilise this transport method whilst on holiday.
With the expanding networks of routes both locally and nationally and the growing attraction of cycling, it seemed a viable project to integrate all these resources onto one website, albeit a mammoth task. As a pilot study I created a relatively basic website that demonstrated this concept within the UK and on the basis of the relative success of this commissioned a local web design company to start the big task of developing a website. I used my own investment to start this process and assisted the development were possible to keep costs down. I also spoke to journalists and writers in the industry to see if they would contribute material to add depth and have secured a number of quality contributions.
I wanted Holidays by Cycle to look sleek and professional and to appeal to the appropriate demographic, I also wanted the site to have simple search options and mapping facilities. It was imperative that the site attracted the non-serious cyclists as well as the experienced and broadened the appeal of using a bike whilst on holiday as a mainstream activity.
The site is nearing completion and will be “live” at the end of March 2013 when it will then enter phase two – listing population. Over a period of around a year I expect the site to gradually populate with relevant listings and ultimately become the largest resource of its type and provide a boost to cycle tourism in Europe. The enterprise is essentially a small business, although listings will be free until March 2014 – and then membership fees will be just £35/40euro a year. It is hoped that, as a result of the site, a sister website can be set up that provides a simple listing service for cycling friendly accredited accommodation in the EU. This service will be free and have a quality look and feel, and will aim to categorise and list all accredited accommodation in Europe with language translations for most countries.
I feel this project will contribute significantly to cycle tourism in Europe. I am passionate about the potential and have a number of ideas for expanding and increasing the profile of cycle tourism in the EU. I appreciate and support the work of the ECF and envisage “private” initiatives such as Holidays by Cycle to be a fundamental part of the growth strategy for this vital sustainable form of transport - and this forms the basis of my application as a “social project”.
The image provided is a basic outline of the front page of the site and is for guide only. The site will be viewable online from the end of March 2013.