GETAWAYS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Below is an exhaustive list of the dozens of questions we've received about the program. If you have questions of your own that are not answered below, please email getaways@sacredrides.com.

CAN I REALLY MAKE A LIVING AT THIS? +

Our goal is to provide a platform where passionate and driven mountain bikers can work toward making a full-time living from guiding others on their local trails. Many factors go into this such as the amount of tourism in your area, how appealing your area is as a mountain bike destination, the length of your season, etc. But the biggest factor in your success will be you: if you are willing to put in the hard work to make your destination a success, then we will provide all the tools and support you need to make that happen. But you can’t expect to just sit back and wait for all the bookings to come in.

The program as structured is based on 1/2-day to 2-day adventures in your local area; for some, this may be enough to build a full-time, year-round income from (there are lots of companies around the world that do brisk business in 1/2-day trips and day trips alone), but for many of our affiliates this will be a nice side-business bringing in additional income from something they love to do, and may not become a full-time business that replaces their existing income.

Long-term, we plan on allowing our best Getaways guides - as measured in customer ratings and reviews - to offer longer Rides (e.g. 7 days, or 10 days). The profit potential in this type of trip is of course much bigger.

WHAT OTHER COSTS CAN I EXPECT WHEN STARTING UP?  +

In addition to the annual fee, you can expect to pay some or all of the following additional fees, as you would with starting up your own mountain bike guiding business:

  • Wilderness First Aid: $300-$400 CAD for a 16 or 20-hour Wilderness First Aid course
  • Permits: $0-$500 CAD depending on your area and how many permits you'll need
  • Liability insurance:  ~$650 USD for US affiliates, ~$1000 CAD for Canadian affiliates (these are discounted rates via our partners). Insurance is not required (but is recommended) for non-USA/CAN affiliates
  • Marketing materials: From $50 CAD to get your posters and business cards customized from our templates, and $50-$100 CAD to print. 
  • Gear (mountain bike, helmet, backpack, radio or cellphone, first aid equipment etc.): Costs will vary depending on what gear you already have. 
  • Additional Guide Online Training:  $20 CAD per additional Guide (after 1).

 

IN ADDITION TO THE ANNUAL FEE AND PER-BOOKING FEE, ARE THERE ANY OTHER FEES? +

All of the revenues you make through your Getaways portal go straight to you, minus the booking fee we take.  Below is a breakdown of the fees you’ll pay:  

  • Annual Fee: Payable when you first sign up and then at 1-year intervals (this can also be paid monthly). 
  • Per-Booking Fees: 10% for bookings made through your own site, or 15% for bookings that come to you from the main Getaways site at getaways.sacredrides.com (that we advertise and promote).
  • Credit Card Fees: These are deducted by the merchant credit card company, either Stripe or Paypal; typically, these will average around 2.9% but as the program grows we will negotiate lower rates.

NOTE:  5% of the Booking Fees are donated to our ‘Keeping Rides Sacred’ fund, which funds community and conservation projects around the world via our partner charity, Bikes Without Borders. 

COULD YOU PLEASE ADVISE WHAT THE GUIDES' RESPONSIBILITIES ARE AND WHAT THEY ARE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE OR ARRANGE (EG. TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION OR CAMPING, CATERING, BIKES)? +

You and your guides' responsibilities are to take care of your Riders and to safely guide them on the trails of your area. All of your guides' responsibilities and duties are outlined in our comprehensive online guide training, along with lots of other training and information. 

You, as the Ride Director for your area, are required to arrange transport for your Riders (although we recommend you try to design Rides that don't require transport as it adds to cost and logistics considerably). Accommodation is only necessary for 2-day Rides and should be arranged with a local hotel/B&B/lodge - we don't recommend camping as it adds a lot of logistics. As for catering, we suggest you use local restaurants/food stops for lunches (1-day Rides generally only include lunch), choose lodges that include breakfast for 2-day Rides, and not include dinners for 2-day Rides. Regarding bikes, see below.

WHAT'S A TYPICAL PRICE FOR 1-DAY AND 2-DAY RIDES? +

Pricing will be determined based on your costs, in your currency.  We will provide you with a Ride Cost Calculator to help you determine appropriate and profitable selling prices for your Rides. 

For Rides offered in the United States, a 1-day Ride with lunch included, would typically range in price from $125-$150 USD, not including bike rental charges. 

For a 2-day Ride with 2 nights' accommodation and 4 meals (2 breakfasts/2 lunches), would typically range in price from $500 to $900 USD, not including bike rental charges.  

Bike rental charges would be in addition to the Ride price.  We suggest arranging a partnership with a local bike shop. 

WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO MAKE IN MY FIRST YEAR? +

We can’t make any promises - your success is really up to you and how hard you intend to work at making your Getaways destination a success. 

We’ll provide you with everything you need to be successful, but you need to hustle, get the word out, and create and deliver incredible Rides that will get people coming back and referring their friends. 

While we offer no guarantees, if you live in a destination that already has a tourist and/or mountain bike scene, and you are ready to hustle, you could potentially make a healthy side income in your first year and move towards a full-time living within 2 or 3 years (or even sooner if you're really prepared to hustle). 

WHAT IS YOUR REFUND POLICY ON THE GETAWAYS FEE? +

After you have paid your initial fee, we offer a full 30-day refund - this buys you 30 days to secure your permits, get insurance quotes, and make other arrangements so that you feel confident you will be able to operate. If at any time during that 30 days you feel you won't be able to continue with the program, you can ask for a full refund.

HOW BIG IS THE TERRITORY I’M ALLOWED TO OPERATE IN? +

Getaways affiliates will be able to operate Rides, exclusively, in a 30-km/20-mi radius area from their chosen home base (i.e. anywhere less than 30km/20mi from their selected home base on a Google Map). 

If you like, you can purchase extra kilometres for your exclusive territory at a rate of $50 per additional kilometre of radius, per year. 

You can, if desired, operate outside of this territory as long as you are not encroaching on someone else's exclusive territory. Our goal is to focus on global coverage/distribution rather than just sheer numbers of guides, so we don't plan on packing people tightly together and limiting their ability to guide and operate. 

CAN I OFFER OTHER ADVENTURES, SUCH AS ROAD BIKE TRIPS OR HIKING TRIPS? +

Sorry, not right now. Sacred Rides is a mountain bike adventure company (the “#1 mountain bike tour company on Earth” as ranked by National Geographic Adventure magazine), and we intend to stay that way. We don’t want to dilute the brand by branching out into other outdoor adventures (although we do have long term plans to potentially do that under another brand - see below). You can incorporate these activities into itineraries that are primarily focused on mountain biking, but they should comprise no more than 25% of the overall itinerary.

DO I HAVE TO HAVE A PHYSICAL LOCATION TO OFFER MY RIDES OUT OF? +

No. If you live in a busy tourist area (e.g. Moab), then it would certainly help to have a storefront-type location, but it’s not 100% necessary - you can run your Getaways business from your living room, your local Starbucks, a coworking space, etc. When starting out, you may want to consider partnering with a local business (e.g. a local bike shop), so that you have somewhere convenient to meet customers, hang a sign, process credit cards, etc.

WHAT KIND OF TRAINING WILL I GET? +

Once approved, you will get an invitation to our comprehensive online guide training program. This is a 7-module detailed training covering all aspects of operation and guiding, from our core values to guiding scenarios, to risk management and more. If you focus and pay attention, you should be able to complete the training in 4 to 6 hours. In addition to the online training, you will also be required to attend an in-person guide training in your region within 1 year after launching. Our plan is to offer regional in-person training once a year in the following areas: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. We plan to keep the cost very reasonable, and you will be required to attend the in-person training only once (but are welcome to take it as often as you like).

IS THE IN-PERSON TRAINING MANDATORY? +

Yes. As long as the in-person training is offered in your continent, it is mandatory. 

If you do not attend an in-person training within your first year after launch, your Gateways license will be revoked and your portal will be shut down. 

n.b.: the in-person training is only mandatory for whoever will be the owner of the Getaways destination. Your guides are not required to attend the training, but we highly recommend it! We will also offer you a group discount if you have 2 or more people coming to the training.

HOW MUCH WILL THE IN-PERSON GUIDE TRAINING COST? +

Our goal is to make the training as affordable as possible. We expect the cost to be somewhere around $400-500 CAD for the 3-day training. You will also need to cover transport to the training area, food and lodging costs (some food will be provided, and we will be partnering with local accommodation providers to provide discounted lodging rates).

WILL I NEED PERMITS OR CERTIFICATIONS? +

It will be up to you to do the legwork and research required to find out whether permits or certifications are required in your area.  If permits (i.e. with local land-use or government bodies) are required to offer commercial guiding on the trails in your area, then you will be required to show proof of approved permits. Likewise, if many of the trails are on private land, then we require proof of land-use agreements/permission with private landowners (for instance, if you're planning on guiding on trails at a local ski/mountain bike resort). 

It is entirely possible that no permits are required for guiding on your local trails, in which case we require a signed letter (we will provide a template) stating that you have done the required research and are satisfied that no permits are required. 

Some jurisdictions may also require you and your guides to get certification; for instance, some jurisdictions in Europe require guides to be certified as mountain bike guides, or mountain guides. This is relatively rare, however it is something you need to look into.

Also, all Getaways guides are required to obtain First Aid certification. All guides are required to obtain a 20-hour Wilderness First-Aid certificate or equivalent. All guided Rides require 1 lead guide, and departures with 5 or more people require an additional assistant guide.

Please note:  permits and certifications are an absolute must. If we discover that you do not have necessary permits for guiding in your area, then your Getaways license will be revoked until you are able to obtain the necessary permits and certifications. Our operations director Meagan has put together a nice primer on researching and getting permits HERE

WHAT ABOUT BIKE RENTALS? +

We anticipate that most Getaways customers will not be traveling with a mountain bike and will require bike rentals. You need to have a way to offer mountain bike rentals, either through a partner bike shop or by purchasing your own bike fleet. You can purchase significantly discounted mountain bikes through our partnership with Norco bikes.

WHAT IF I DON’T GET ANY CUSTOMERS (OR VERY FEW)? DO I STILL HAVE TO PAY THE ANNUAL RENEWAL FEE? CAN I GET A DISCOUNT? +

Your success is highly dependent on your commitment to the program, and your ability to hustle and get customers. We'll provide you with everything we possibly can to ensure your success, and will do our best to promote your Rides via our main listings website, but the promotion of your Getaways portal and your Rides is entirely up to you - as is your success. If, during your first year, you have a hard time getting customers, we'll do our best to help you identify opportunities you may be missing, and will offer you additional support as well as connections to other guides who are succeeding, but we don't offer any discounts on renewal fees. Should you decide it's not working out, you can opt to not pay your renewal fee and your license will be granted to someone else.

WHAT ARE THE RULES/ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUPPORT STAFF? I WOULD WANT TO TAKE A BACK-UP LEADER AND BIKE MECHANIC WITH ME. +

You are allowed as many additional guides and support staff as you like, however additional guides are required to take our online training (cost is $20 CAD per person) and order a Sacred Rides guides kit/uniform (jacket, shorts, 2 jerseys, cost TBD but will be around $250 CAD). Mechanics and drivers are not required to take the training or order a uniform, but they are welcome to do so if you/they like.

CAN I GET A DISCOUNT ON SACRED RIDES LONGER TRIPS? +

We offer a 10% discount to Getaways guides who want to partake in one of our longer (5 to 14-day) Rides around the world.

WHAT ARE MY LONG-TERM OPTIONS WITH THIS PROGRAM? +

Our goal is to provide a platform whereby guides who show determination and a commitment to success are able to earn a full-time living from the program.  That said, we know the vast majority of our guides may not achieve that goal, and may even struggle to earn more than their annual fee.  We are committed to giving you all the tools for success, so if you are willing to work hard and hustle, we're confident you can do well and may one day earn a full-time living from your Getaways destination.

With that in mind, there are a few long-term options for you to expand your operations and earn additional revenue:

  1. Getaways guides who consistently earn high ratings will be invited to develop longer (5 to 14-day) Rides, for inclusion on our main website. This opens opportunities to develop Rides under our 4 different product lines: Singletrack for experienced mountain bikers, Women's-only Rides, Bring-Your-Partner Rides for mountain bikers with non-mountain-biking partners, and our Expedition Rides for fit beginner/intermediate Rides.
  2. Once the platform and the model have been proven, we hope to roll it out in other industry 'verticals', such as hiking, kayaking, trekking, etc. This would be under a different brand, but would give you additional options for earning revenue in your area.

WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM PLANS FOR THE GETAWAYS PROGRAM? +

We have ambitious plans for the program - our goal is to get to 300 Getaways destinations by the end of 2018. We believe there are huge advantages to scale; each new Getaways guide helps to promote the brand and raise awareness, and the more we can cover the globe with mountain bike adventures, the more Sacred Rides becomes the 'go-to' brand for mountain bike adventures, and the more we're able to build brand loyalty among our customers.

Someone having an awesome experience on a Moab Getaway is likely to want to come back and do other Getaways, and is likely to tell their friends about Sacred Rides and the Getaways program. Multiply that by dozens, and eventually hundreds of guides, and you have a program that feeds upon its own success.

I HAVE SOME IDEAS FOR SOME EPIC RIDES IN THE 30-KM/20-MI ZONE BUT THEY WILL REQUIRE TRANSPORT TO AND FROM. DO YOU SUGGEST HIRING A VEHICLE FOR LARGER GROUPS? AND BUILDING THAT INTO THE COSTING AND PRICING? +

With respect to transport, when you're first starting out it makes more sense to rent vehicles - and then long term you can look at leasing or purchasing your own. We recommend you source a couple of options: a minivan with a trailer hitch for smaller groups (e.g. up to 6 people), and a 15-passenger van (such as a Ford Econoline or Dodge Sprinter) for larger groups. For a 15-passenger, you will typically need a different driver's license, depending on your area (they're usually fairly easy to get).

And yes, the cost of that should be incorporated into your pricing. We will share pricing spreadsheets with you so that you can plug in your cost numbers and then play around with pricing to see how it affects your margins and profit.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ISSUE WITH PACKAGING RIDES THAT INCLUDE OTHER ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS A HALF DAY MTB RIDE FOLLOWED BY A KAYAK TOUR (USING A LOCAL OPERATOR) OR GUIDED WALK IN A NATIONAL PARK? +

No, our Getaways guides are free to package other activities. That said, we are a mountain bike adventure company; that is what our brand is built on, and we don't want to dilute it by becoming a hiking/rafting/trekking/axe throwing adventure company. We ask that guides limit additional activities to 25% of the overall itinerary (so 1 afternoon or 1 morning for a 2-day trip, and 1-2 hours for a 1-day trip). You could look at doing something like a 'bike and hike' 1-day adventure, or a 2-day mountain bike trip with an afternoon of kayaking. 

SHOULD I ADVERTISE REGULAR 1/2 DAY, 1 AND 2 DAY RIDES WITH DATES AND TIMES WELL IN ADVANCE ON MY WEBSITE? +

Absolutely. We suggest you schedule Rides well in advance, as your schedule allows. The website and booking system are set up to easily handle private requests, so you can add more dates as needed if you get, say, last-minute requests for groups, but you should post as many scheduled dates as you can. You can also communicate with customers and try to batch them onto fewer dates to maximize your profitability; for instance, if someone books for a Friday and you get another enquiry for the following Monday, see if the new enquiry can join the Friday group, or vice versa. 

WITH REGARDS TO FIRST AID TRAINING, IF I OBTAIN MY OWN LIABILITY INSURANCE ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHAT THE LOCAL INSURANCE COMPANY WILL ACCEPT AS FAR AS FIRST AID QUALIFICATIONS? OR ARE YOU INSISTENT ON A WILDERNESS FIRST AID TRAINING? SOURCING THAT TRAINING HERE IS SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT.  +

Yes, we are happy with whatever your insurance company accepts. Wilderness first aid training may not even be really necessary if you are mostly staying in urban and semi-urban areas, however if you do venture farther into the backcountry then it's worth looking into traveling to get WFA training, as it does cover a lot of scenarios that are specific to that kind of traveling. 

SHOULD I CREATE A COMPANY REGARDLESS OF WHETHER I'M ABLE TO GET INSURANCE THROUGH SACRED RIDES? I'M FOCUSED ON BUILDING THE SACRED RIDES BRAND HERE IN ____? +

Setting up an incorporated company is not a bad idea, regardless of insurance. An incorporated company, or limited liability company (whatever it’s called in your country/region) limits your liability, so that if something were to happen and one of your customers wants to take legal action against you, they could take action against your company, but not against you personally, which protects you and your assets.

FYI, in 20+ years of operation we’ve never - knock on wood - had any legal action against us, so it’s unlikely that someone would take action against you, but it is possible of course. If you do create a company, you are not permitted to do so using the Sacred Rides name (this would create all kinds of complications, and you’d be unlikely to get the name approved anyway). We recommend you just create a numbered company (e.g. 1523869 Ltd), and use that as your corporate entity. This will help you in applying for insurance, opening a business bank account, accessing business financing, etc.

You could, of course, also create a named company such as ‘Yourlocation Mountain Bike Tours’ or similar - just be aware that our User Agreement prohibits you from operating trips under a non-Sacred Rides brand (we’ve spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars developing our platform, materials, and training, and of course don’t want you taking all of that, copying it and learning from it, and then using it to compete against us). 

AM I ALLOWED TO OPERATE RIDES OUTSIDE OF MY exclusive territory? +

Yes, you're welcome to operate outside of your exclusive territory, as long as you don't operate in someone else's exclusive territory. More details:

  • We will allow Getaways guides to offer 1 and 2-day Rides outside of their 30-km/20-mi exclusive territory, as long as they don't encroach on other Getaways guides' territory.
  • If, in the future, we receive an application from a potential Getaways guide for an area where an existing Guide is already offering Rides, but outside of their exclusive territory, we will offer the existing guide the opportunity (provided we are satisfied with how they are operating) to add these additional km’s to their exclusive territory.  
  • Each additional km can be purchased for $50.  A maximum of 30 extra km’s can be added to an existing guides exclusive territory.  
  • If the existing guide chooses not to purchase additional km’s, then it will be offered to the new applicant (provided they pass our vetting process) and the existing guide will be asked to remove any Rides listed on their website that encroach upon any other guides exclusive territory. 

ARE THERE ADVANTAGES TO GETTING IN EARLY? +

Yes, of course. If you don't get in early, someone else may take your Getaways destination and you'll have missed your opportunity forever (each guide will have exclusive rights to a 30-km/20-mi radius from their home base).

We expect to increase our fees in mid-2017 and if you get in now, you'll lock in discounted pricing forever (annual fees will not go up once you're signed up). 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO REVIEW APPLICATIONS? +

Our goal is to give applicants an answer within 2 business days. If approved for the next stage, you’ll receive an invite to complete the video interview portion of the process, and will have 7 days to complete the video interview (it's automated). Once we’ve received your video interview, you’ll receive a final answer within 5 days.

MY SEASON IS ONLY 6 MONTHS LONG - HOW CAN I MAKE A GO OF IT WITH SUCH A SHORT SEASON? +

If you live an area that has a short mountain biking season because of a winter/snowy season, then there are two ways you can make this program viable for you:

1) Work your butt off to maximize the riding season that you do have.

2) Offer fatbiking trips in the winter. Fatbiking is exploding in popularity (our bike partner says that over 25% of their revenue now comes from fatbikes, and they can't keep them in stock). This may never match the revenue you make in the spring/summer/fall season, but it may be more than enough to cover your expenses in the offseason and make you a bit of extra $$$. 

WE HAVE GREAT TRAILS IN MY AREA, BUT IT’S NOT WELL-KNOWN SO I CAN’T SEE MOUNTAIN BIKERS WANTING TO PAY FOR A GUIDE, OR WANTING TO COME RIDE IN MY AREA. I’M WORRIED I’LL WASTE MY $ AND TIME ON THIS. +

‘Mountain bikers’ (i.e. people who mountain bike regularly and self-identify as mountain bikers) are just one target market for your trips. There may, in fact, be even more potential in developing and marketing trips towards beginners and those who have little mountain bike experience. These types of trips, more accurately or more appealingly called ‘off-road’ cycling trips, would feature easier riding, perhaps on double track or dirt roads, to introduce newbies to the thrill of mountain biking. You may also want to consider offering mountain bike instruction trips (note: we require our guides to get PMBIA Level 1 or equivalent before offering mountain bike instruction).

That said, there may be more of a market for guided trips for mountain bikers in your area than you imagine. Think of all the mountain bikers out there who travel for business - on business meetings, conferences, conventions, etc. - and on non-mountain-biking trips (e.g. a family holiday) and might want to squeeze in a day or two of mountain biking, and have a local guide provide them with a rental bike and access to the best trails.

WHAT ABOUT PERMITS? +

All Getaways affiliates are expected to secure permits and/or permission from private landowners for the trails they plan on guiding on. You will be required to show proof of permits and/or permission before you can begin guiding on your local trails, or sign an affidavit stating that you have done the research and are satisfied that no permits or permission are required to guide on your local trails (rare, but it happens in some parts of the world).

To assist you with the permit process, our operations director has put together a primer on researching and getting permits HERE.

DO I NEED TO GET INSURANCE, OR DO YOU PROVIDE IT? +

  • US and Canadian affiliates are required to hold at least $1,000,000 (USD in the United States, CAD in Canada) general liability and professional liability insurance, which can be purchased at discounted rates from our insurance partners. The policy must name Sacred Rides as additional insured. 
  • Affiliates outside of North America, are not required to hold liability insurance, but it is recommended. 
  • We are unable to offer insurance via our partners to affiliates outside of North America, so if you wish to purchase liability insurance you will have to find this on your own.

SAY ONE GETS A SPECIFIC AREA AND OFFERS, AT FIRST, A GREAT SERVICE, BUT GETS WORSE WITH TIME. IS THERE A QUALITY CHECK? +

There are lots of quality checks, first via extensive vetting before people are allowed into the program. Then extensive training - first, a detailed 7-module online training, then a 3-day in-person training that affiliates are asked to complete within 1 year of starting.

Customers are allowed and encouraged to review their guides, and the top-rated guides/affiliates and Rides are featured more prominently at the Ride listings page, and their Ride ratings are posted publicly on this site and their own. So there is a strong incentive to keep the quality high.

WHY CAN'T SEVERAL PERSONS SERVE ONE AREA AND YOU WORK WITH A RATING SYSTEM SO POTENTIAL GUESTS CAN CHOOSE THEIR GUIDE BY THEMSELVES? +

We thought about doing an open/airbnb model with competition and a ’survival of the fittest’ approach (i.e.. best-rated guides get most of the business), but with that model there is little incentive for an individual guide to work hard to promote themselves and their destination - and there’s little to promote (how would you promote your listing? Think about airbnb - individual renters don’t really promote their airbnb listing).

With the current model, affiliates have their own website with their own unique URL (e.g. sanjose.sacredrides.com), and lots of incentive and potential to promote it - with the classic airbnb-type model, where you just get a listing on a site, you're relying entirely on the platform to bring you business. And while we hope to bring lots of traffic to getaways.sacredrides.com, and lots of bookings to our affiliates, that alone won’t be enough as there is much more potential in capturing the local tourism market (people who are already visiting or planning to visit your area)- via posters at local bike shops and tourism providers such as hotels, via partnerships with event and conference organizers, via press releases to local media, etc.

IF ONE OF MY CUSTOMERS OR I CRASHES WHAT ABOUT THE BILLS? +

  • US and Canadian affiliates are required to hold at least $1,000,000 (USD in the United States, CAD in Canada) general liability and professional liability insurance, which can be purchased at discounted rates from our insurance partners.
  • With coverage, if one of your customers crashes and wants to sue you, your insurance company will take over. 
  • If you crash and are unable to work, or have hospital bills… well, that’s the same risk you take when you go out for any bike ride. If you want to protect yourself you may want to look into getting disability insurance. 
  • Given that you’ll typically be riding a lot less aggressively on your guided rides than your own rides, this may be unnecessary and a risk you are willing to take, but that is up to you. 

A BUSINESS MODEL THAT LETS ANYONE BECOME A GUIDE IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD FOR A FEE SHOULD INCLUDE SOME FUNDS PUT TOWARDS THE AREA IN WHICH THE GUIDE IS OPERATING. +

With the structure of the program, 5% of every booking will go to a community projects fund. This will be used to fund community projects around the world, including trail building and trail maintenance. Our affiliates are also encouraged to donate hours towards local trailbuilding and maintenance; most of our affiliates have deep roots in their local communities and are already doing this to some extent.

WHY THE ANNUAL FEE? +

We've put a lot of thought into the business model behind this program. Ultimately, if it is to be successful our affiliates have to be successful, otherwise they drop out and spread the word that it's not a viable program. So our fates are very much intertwined, and a program that only generates a lot of revenue for us but doesn't help our affiliates succeed may work in the very short term, but will ultimately fail. One of our core values is to 'Make decisions that make sense in 100 years', and that has helped drive the development of this program.

The $995 CAD annual fee (or $99/month) accomplishes a few objectives:

1) It allows us to cover the significant costs of developing this program (we've spent over $150,000 on the tech infrastructure alone) and the significant amount of support and value we are providing to our affiliates.

2) An annual fee ensures that the people who do get into the program are committed to their success (i.e. they don't want to see their investment go to waste, so they're likely to work harder at succeeding). Without it, we just get a bunch of 'tire-kickers' who are unlikely to work hard to make their destination a success.

3) The extra revenue generated by the annual fees gives us the capital we need to promote the Getaways Rides to mountain bikers around the world. Over the last 20 years we've learned a thing or two about marketing, and we feel that we can do a lot more with our affiliates' dollars, via collective, powerful marketing of the brand and the Getaways Rides, than they can do on their own (many of our affiliates have no marketing experience whatsoever). This type of marketing can develop loyal, repeat Getaways customers that come back for Rides over and over and spread the word to their friends, which helps all of our affiliates succeed.

SO, YOU ARE OFFERING LITTLE BIT OF MARKETING FOR THE COST OF JOINING AND NOT MUCH MORE? I DON'T SEE ANY ADVANTAGES OVER JUST STARTING MY OWN GUIDING BUSINESS.  +

We are offering a hell of a lot more than just a bit of marketing:

  • The ability to operate under one of the most respected and reputable brands in the mountain bike guiding business
  • A beautiful, mobile-responsive website that is easy and quick to set up and customize (example site)
  • A blog and website that is SEO-optimized, from a trusted 11-year-old domain that is much more likely to rank high in search engines than your own, brand-new site
  • A booking system that can start accepting credit cards within about 5 minutes and accepting reservations within an hour of setup
  • A robust backend operations system for managing Rides, departure, and staff
  • A listing on our main Getaways site (on this page), that we will promote heavily
  • Extensive marketing, sales, operations and guide training
  • Marketing materials and templates
  • Discounted and expedited insurance (coming soon)
  • Dealer rates on bikes, gear (e.g. Yakima racks and Smith helmets), and even trail snacks
  • Membership in a private Facebook group for affiliates where you can share best practices and challenges and learn from other affiliates
  • Regular training webinars
  • The opportunity to ride with, learn from and visit dozens (eventually hundreds) of other affiliates around the world
  • And tons of support along the way, from our team that has, collectively, hundreds of years of experience in the mountain bike adventure industry

DO I NEED TO BUY A FLEET OF BIKES FOR RIDERS TO USE/RENT?  +

No, you don't need to buy a fleet of rental bikes. We recommend you work with a local bike shop that offers good-quality rentals in your first year, and negotiate discounted rates so that you can make a bit of profit from bike rentals (e.g. if their posted rate is $60/day, ask them to give you a wholesale rate of $50/day and you can then offer rentals to your customers at $60/day and make $10/day per rental). Once you've established yourself and have a steady customer base, then you can consider purchasing your own fleet. You can access heavy discounts on a rental fleet via our partnership with Norco bikes.

IS THE GETAWAYS PROGRAM A FRANCHISE?  +

Technically no - when joining you will sign a User Agreement which is more of an affiliate-type agreement than a franchise agreement, although there are elements of a franchise model to the program.

CAN I TALK WITH ONE OR MORE CURRENT GETAWAYS AFFILIATES BEFORE SIGNING UP?   +

Yes!  Please email getaways@sacredrides.com for a list of Getaways references.  In the meantime, check out this video from our affiliate in Spokane, Washington, Ken Hoekema: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86-vliFE5xw

CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT SACRED RIDES?  I.E. HOW MANY WEBSITE VISITORS PER YEAR, FB FOLLOWERS, INSTA FOLLOWERS, ETC. ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION?   +

In 2016, sacredrides.com had 535,531 website visitors (this is trending upward by about 3% every month and we just completed a big SEO project which is seeing our numbers trend upward even higher). 

To date (June 01, 2017), the Sacred Rides Facebook Page has 32,709 Likes and the Sacred Rides Instagram Page has 5828 Followers. 

We also have over 25,000 email subscribers who receive 1 email/week from us, and we are adding approx 60 subscribers/week. Our open and click rates for our two mailing lists are extremely high.

Our Tripadvisor rating is 5 stars, with 48 total reviews.

WHAT FORM OF PAYMENT DO YOU ACCEPT FOR THE MONTHLY OR ANNUAL FEE?  +

Our preferred form of payment is credit card, as this allows us to set up recurring payments in our system (you always receive reminders of upcoming payments) and allows us to cut down on administration. Monthly payments can only be processed by credit card (we can't feasibly invoice you every month and accept cheques or wire transfers). Annual fees can be paid, if absolutely necessary, by wire transfer, bank draft, or Paypal, however there is a 10% surcharge on wire transfers and bank drafts and a 5% surcharge on Paypal transactions due to increased administration costs for this. 

 IF I MOVE AND I WANT TO CONTINUE WITH THE GETAWAYS PROGRAM IN MY NEW TOWN, WHAT WILL THAT PROCESS LOOK LIKE?  +

If the new location is available, then you will need to cancel your existing Getaways location and start the process again. You won't need to apply again, however you will need to provide proof of permits and/or permission for guiding in your new area, and a new portal will be set up for you.

IF I CREATE A SURVEY TO GATHER DATA ABOUT MY AREA/AUDIENCE/INTEREST, CAN YOU POST IT ON THE SACRED RIDES FACEBOOK PAGE TO HELP ME GATHER INSIGHT BEFORE I SIGN UP?  +

Sorry, we are very careful about how we use our Facebook page, and focus on creating value for our fans (which leads to much higher engagement than the typical Facebook page). A post like this would not be of interest or valuable to the majority of our fans, so we can't do this. However, you might find you would get lots of feedback by posting to local MTB forums and connecting with local MTB clubs.

CAN YOU POST MARKETING ABOUT MY RIDES ON THE SACRED RIDES FACEBOOK PAGE?  +

From time to time we may post about Getaways Rides and destinations on the Sacred Rides Facebook Page, but most Facebook marketing of the Getaways program and destinations will be done via the Getaways Facebook page, which has been set up just for this purpose.

WHAT PROJECTS WILL THE DONATED FUNDS BE ALLOCATED TO?  +

5% of every Getaways booking goes to our Keeping Rides Sacred fund, which funds community and conservation projects around the world. 

This money will be used to fund community projects around the world, including trail building and trail maintenance.

Affiliates will submit local projects or initiatives that require funding, and all affiliates will have the opportunity to vote on projects (otherwise, the funds will not make much of an impact if they’re spread out among multiple projects.) 

WHO IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR GETAWAYS RIDES?  +

We have in mind 4 target markets for the Getaways program and will be running various forms of marketing to test our hypotheses out:

1) Experienced mountain bikers looking to 'get away' for quick mountain bike trips. Our goal is to have this site become their 'go-to' whenever they are planning such a trip, and as such our primary goal is to generate a large email list with whom we can communicate new destinations and new Rides, incentives, and discounts.

2) Travelers planning vacations around the world and looking for activities to do on their holidays. These might be families, couples, solo travelers, etc.  Most will not be experienced mountain bikers, but the idea of an active, safe adventure appeals to them, as long as it's clearly a beginner/intermediate Ride they would be on.

3) Spontaneous travelers already traveling, looking for things to do. Reaching these travelers will primarily be the affiliate's responsibility, via posters in bike shops and hotels, partnerships with local tourism providers, community presence, etc.

4) Conference/convention/business travelers: the world of mountain biking has a large contingent of professionals who travel frequently for work. Already we get frequent requests (via sacredrides.com) from people who are traveling somewhere for work and are looking to squeeze in a day or two of mountain biking. With the growth of the Getaways program, any time they are traveling somewhere we want to be their go-to solution for searching for a local guide to help them ride great trails.

Of course, these markets will vary from location to location. An affiliate in Whistler may have a very different target market than an affiliate in South America, but these are some of the markets we will be marketing to, and will be refining our marketing to maximize our exposure in the most promising ones.

HOW WILL YOU MARKET THE PROGRAM AND BRING ME CUSTOMERS?  +

While we expect our affiliates to do their own marketing of their location, and will provide you with lots of tips and tools to do so, we will also be promoting the program heavily, and sending traffic to this page so that visitors can browse Getaways Rides from all over the world.

Our marketing strategy is four-fold:

  1. Publicity: Already the Getaways program has received extensive media coverage, with over a dozen articles written about it and many more coming out over the coming weeks and months (click HERE and HERE for samples). 
  2. Content Marketing: We have developed extensive expertise in content marketing and SEO (our main site receives up to 100,000 visitors/month to the blog). The program is set up so that any content our affiliates post to their own sites can also be published and aggregate at this site. We provide our affiliates with detailed instructions on how to use content marketing effectively to show up in search results, and with content from affiliates all over the world aggregated on this site, it will soon generate a lot of traffic - and leads for our Getaways affiliates.
  3. Paid Marketing: We have been quite effective in using Facebook Ads to market Sacred Rides and we are continuing that strategy by marketing the Getaways program, and all of the Rides, to mountain bikers around the world. 
  4. Brand Awareness: As the program grows and we get more and more affiliates on board around the world, each promoting the brand in their local area and online, the brand presence grows exponentially, with Sacred Rides becoming the brand of choice for mountain bikers looking for a premium mountain bike experience. 

PLEASE NOTE: We offer no guarantees of bookings to our Getaways affiliates. We are very good at marketing and promotion, but we can't feasibly guarantee you will get customers - that depends on a lot of factors that are out of our control. 

HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO BECOME A GETAWAYS AFFILIATE?  +

Our Getaways affiliates must be at least 21 years old. Operating a successful Getaways destination requires hard work and responsibility and we feel that most people younger than 21 just don't yet have the experience to be able to take on something like this and succeed.

WHAT LEVEL OF MOUNTAIN BIKER SHOULD I BE?  +

You should be at least a strong intermediate mountain biker, although it's ideal if you are a fit, advanced mountain biker as you will then be able to offer Rides for this level of Rider. However, most of your customers will probably be beginner and intermediate Riders, so an advanced level of skill and fitness isn't necessary on your part (and you can always hire an advanced level mountain biker to guide those trips for you).

WHAT MEDIA AND ARTICLES HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED AROUND THE GETAWAYS PROGRAM?  +

We have received extensive media coverage, and are continuing to get coverage (we are pretty experienced when it comes to PR). We have had articles in singletracks.com, GrindTV, Dirt Rag, Bike Rumor, Bike198 and many more. In the coming months, we are expecting articles in Outside magazine, a repeat article in singletracks.com, and several more articles. Each of these articles brings/will bring significant traffic to this site, and in many cases will feature some of our affiliates. We're working hard to bring exposure to our affiliates!

I HAVE AN EXISTING MOUNTAIN BIKE TOUR BUSINESS.  IF I JOIN THE GETAWAYS PROGRAM, CAN I CONTINUE TO OPERATE 1 AND 2 DAY MOUNTAIN BIKE TOURS UNDER MY BUSINESS NAME AND WEBSITE AND SACRED RIDES?  +

Yes.  Businesses established prior to joining the Getaways Program can continue to operate as they have been, which may include guiding 1 and 2-day mountain bike tours.  

Affiliates who start new businesses after joining the Getaways Program will be limited to offering 1 or 2-day mountain bike tours solely through the Getaways Program. 

SINCE THIS PROGRAM IS RELATIVELY NEW AND NOT WELL ESTABLISHED, WHAT CAN YOU DO TO GIVE ME CONFIDENCE THAT WORKING WITH SACRED RIDES WILL BE BENEFICIAL?   +

Yes, the program is not well established yet, and is still in its infancy. However, our team has a proven track record of success (Sacred Rides is well-established as the #1 provider of mountain bike tours in the industry), over 20 years of experience in the mountain bike tourism industry, and we know a LOT about marketing and business development. We have an incredible team behind the program, an experienced advisory board that is helping to guide the development of the program, and our founder has built and launched several successful businesses.

We have a well-thought-out vision and strategy for the program, as well as a methodology for how to build and grow new businesses. In the short term, it will take time to get big numbers and lots of customers, but that is why we are pricing it out very affordably at the beginning. Longterm, as the program gains more and more traction and provides more and more value to affiliates, our fee structure will go up, but if you are willing to take the leap of faith with us at this early stage, we'll work extra hard for your success and you'll able to lock in at this low fee forever.

CAN I LIMIT MY BOOKING TO NO MORE THAN 5 PER RIDE SINCE IT IS ONLY ME RIGHT NOW TO GUIDE?  +

Yes, you can set a maximum as you see fit, via your booking system. Although we'd suggest bringing on another guide to help out for bigger groups - you don't want to turn away business!

I DIDN’T SEE ANY OBLIGATION FOR ME TO PROVIDE A MIN NUMBER OF RIDES DURING THE CONTRACT PERIOD. IS THAT CORRECT?   +

Correct, you can post as few or as many Rides and departures as you want.

HOW DO I PRICE MY RIDES? DO YOU HAVE A MODEL THAT SHOWS ME HOW TO COST AND PRICE OUT MY RIDES?   +

Yes, we provide all our affiliates with cost and pricing spreadsheets, tools, and guidelines.

IS THE IN-PERSON TRAINING COURSE MANDATORY?   +

You must take the in-person training course within 1 year of launching, but only if it is offered in your continent (we don't want you to incur a lot of expenses to access the training). In 2018 we anticipate offering training programs in Western and Eastern North America, South America and Europe. As the program grows we will be able to offer it in more locations around the world, and in smaller regions (e.g. 3 training programs in the USA and 2 in Canada). 

ONCE APPROVED, HOW LONG DOES IT USUALLY TAKE FOR GUIDES TO COMPLETE ALL OF THE ITEMS IN THE PRE-LAUNCH CHECKLIST   +

Depending on a few key factors (whether permits/certifications are required in your area, whether you already have access to high-quality photos, etc.), completing your checklist items can take anywhere from 1 week to 4 months (in cases where permits take a long time to secure). We suggest you start looking into permits and certifications right away (including first aid certification - you'll need at least a 16-hour Wilderness First Aid or equivalent)

I AM WONDERING HOW YOU WILL BE MANAGING SO MANY GUIDES RUNNING SEVERAL BUSINESSES TO ENSURE A CONSISTENT QUALITY OF SERVICE IS PROVIDED?   +

1) We have an application process that helps us screen for good fit from the beginning.

2) Once accepted, our affiliates must complete an initial online 7-module training. Then, within 1 year of operation, they are expected to attend a 3-day in-person training (this will be offered regionally around the world)

3) We provide lots of ongoing support via webinars and the private Facebook group to help our affiliates continually improve their quality and level of professionalism

4) Customers are invited, much like Airbnb or Uber, to review their guides upon completion of their trip. These ratings will be posted publicly, providing lots of incentive for guides to provide a high-quality experience

5) We will be reviewing ratings and reaching out to those guides who are under-performing, and providing additional assistance when needed.

 

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