Our main target group is visitors to Dutch cities in the age range of 18 to 35. One of the main concerns of this group is transportation. They want to visit as many attractions in the city as possible but are constrained by limited time and a limited budget. The existing transport options can be costly, confusing and time consuming and overall the experience can be stressful. We wanted to design a business to somehow improve this situation.
To find out more about our target group’s transport preferences we conducted a survey of around 100 people. We found out that bike hire was one of the most popular forms of transport for tourists because they enjoyed the Dutch experience. It also gave them flexibility when travelling around the city. However, bike hire could be improved for this group if it was somehow made more flexible, people did not like returning the bike to the same location and the restricted number of hours. Also, users did not like the deposit element. To try and improve these areas we have designed the following business idea:
SpareBike is a website for travellers and visitors that provides an inexpensive means of transportation through the city. It links potential bike renters with bike owners and brings them in contact in order to achieve a deal.
How it works
The bike owner creates a profile account, where he provides details and pictures of the bike he offers for rent, as well as his location on the map of the city and any other necessary information. This information is visible to the visitors. There is no restriction on the number of bikes an owner can offer. On the contrary, bike owners are encouraged to offer as many bikes as they can, during the first meeting.
The potential bike user also has to create a profile. Then he can search the map of the city in order to find an available bike close to him. The website also offers a variety of search filters based on bike characteristics, such as with/without gears, regular brakes/back brake, bike type, bike height etc., to help the user find the perfect bike for him faster and more easily. As soon as he finds an owner and a bike in a convenient location that meets his expectations, he fills in an online form to claim his interest for the bike and arrange collection of the bike. The bike will be supplied with a combination lock so that the renter can pick it up or return it without the need of a physical meeting with the owner. The user is therefore able to choose a convenient location to deposit their bike when they have finished using it and they have more flexibility in choosing the time when they want to deposit the bike. Users hire the bike for a 24 hour period so they can decide to end the rental at any time be it 6pm or 4am.
The website operates as an intermediary in every stage of the deal between the owner and the visitor. For these services SpareBike charges a fixed commission of 1 euro per day. Part of the revenues of SpareBike emanate from advertisements. The website will host advertisements focused on visitors as well as bike owners. The adverts targeted to visitors will be visible to them during the whole visit on the website, and will include advertisements of restaurants, bars, hotels and any other type that may interest them. Meanwhile, when owners log in to their accounts, they will have advertisements from bike stores, insurances etc.
Consumer value creation
User reviews: After the renter returns the bike to the owner he is strongly encouraged to provide feedback to the owner, regarding the condition of the bike, the services of the owner and rate the overall experience with a 1-to-5 scale stars ranking system. This feedback and rating is visible to everyone in order to help potential future renters decide on the bike they should request and encourage bike owners to maintain their bikes.
Social Media: SpareBike wants to be active on Facebook and other Social Media, such as Twitter and Instagram, in order to be closer to its users and keep a constant contact with them. Facebook group can be used as a forum, where people can share their experiences and leave comments for the website, as well as give their feedback on SpareBike for further improving. Twitter can be used as a fast way to contact with SpareBike, in case a visitor has a problem and instead of calling or sending an e-mail. According to Trusov, Randolph, Bucklin and Pauwels, 2009 this type of word of mouth marketing is more effective at increasing customer numbers than traditional marketing methods.
SpareBike offers tourists to Dutch cities an efficient method of transport and a genuine Dutch experience. This is offered at a cheaper price than traditional bike hire shops and provides additional flexibility such as a 24 hour rental period and more deposit locations.