Success Story | Bike Sharing

MünsterlandRad - Passion for Bicycles and Tourism

July 6, 2021 | Reading time 5 min

Münsterland Rent a Bike station

Digital rental instead of manual handover, download the app and ride off instead of making an appointment and picking up the key: MünsterlandRad shows how a classic bike rental can become a successful bike sharing provider.

Münsterland and the Leeze

70 towns, 200 circular routes, countless bike paths: Münsterland and biking go together like peas and carrots, because the people of the Münster region love bicycles. No wonder, after all, cycling is environmentally friendly, keeps you fit and allows you to enjoy nature - far away from crowded roads and traffic jams. Cycling through nature is especially relaxing when the area has as much to offer as Münsterland does. Tourists are not the only ones who enjoy riding their bikes. Also the locals enjoy riding their two-wheelers on the numerous bike paths around the rivers and sights in the area.

To offer tourists a broad vacation experience, MünsterlandRad has dedicated itself to bicycle tourism and offers a wide range of bike-related services: From the delivery and rental of up to 250 bikes for major events, to luggage and bike transport for individual tours in the bike region. Bike sharing has also been an integral part of the service landscape during the past year.

MünerlandRad Bikes

From Mechanical to Automatic

MünsterlandRad Bike Sharing has been on the road since summer 2020. Previously, the company operated a classic bike rental service, but then decided to take the step toward automation. The manual handover of the bikes was replaced by the digitalised rental. Register, book, start riding instead of making an appointment, delivering the bike and signing for it. Since then, the bikes can be rented around the clock because the rental is no longer bound to opening hours and delivery. This has given the rental service, and especially the users, enormous flexibility:

"The consistent further development of our offers and services is an important part of our corporate culture. Closing service gaps is a particularly important element here. In recent years, we have had an increasing number of requests at short notice that we have not always been able to serve. There were often situations in which we were unable to implement the requests due to the logistical effort involved. The digital bike sharing system now offers our guests a short-term possibility to use our bikes. At the same time, we relieve our booking center and the company's own logistics," explains Bernd Laukötter, owner of Münsterlandrad.

With bike sharing, MünsterlandRad is expanding the range of mobility options in the area. Spontaneous bike tours and excursions have become easier as a result, and MünsterlandRad benefits from the additional bookings that can now be made without additional staffing.

"The consistent further development of our offers and services is an important part of our corporate culture. Closing service gaps is a particularly important element here. In recent years, we have had an increasing number of requests at short notice that we have not always been able to serve. There were often situations in which we were unable to implement the requests due to the logistical effort involved. The digital bike sharing system now offers our guests a short-term possibility to use our bikes. At the same time, we relieve our booking center and the company's own logistics," explains Bernd Laukötter, owner of Münsterlandrad.

Mastering the Technical Challenges

By introducing bike sharing, users can independently, flexibly and easily book MünsterlandRad's bikes rides and no longer have to resort to time-consuming, manual booking. This is made possible by the use of special software and hardware.

In order for bookings to be made, sharing providers need a controlling software to create offers and manage bookings, while riders need an app to book and access the vehicles. The hardware is the interface between the vehicles and the software: The data from the vehicle is read out by the hardware and sent to the software. In this way, charging statuses can be viewed for e-vehicles and mileage readings for cars. In addition, the use of wireless locks enables vehicles to be opened via app.

Since there are several software and hardware providers on the shared mobility market, some questions had to be clarified when planning the bike sharing: Which software should be used? Which hardware should be installed? How can processes be simplified?

"On the one hand, there was the technical side that had to be solved. With the company Haveltec and their digital lock 'I Lock It', we quickly found a good hardware partner. With MOQO's booking platform, we are also well positioned in terms of software. With the booking platform, we particularly like the high flexibility to display different sharing models. We can thus respond individually to customer requests and display different models."

And MünsterlandRad also successfully overcame initial challenges:

"The mobile network was and is unfortunately always an issue in rural areas, so in the course of the pilot phase, locations were excluded because there was not sufficient mobile reception. Another challenge was the adaptation and optimization of operational processes. This is still in full swing. We are learning every day!" says Laukötter.

"Last but not least, our guests and customers have to learn the system. In larger cities, bike sharing is nothing special anymore, but in the 'countryside' it is." Laukötter explains.

The websites of the popular mobile communications providers Telekom, O2 and Vodafone can be used to check network coverage in your region. On this basis, locations can be included or excluded from the outset when planning your sharing.


Network Coverage at Münster

Choose Locations That Benefit Tourists

Locations that are easily accessible, highly frequented and suitable for the target group are crucial for the success of a sharing offer. To find the right locations for their sharing, providers should ask themselves the following questions: Who is my target group? Where do I reach them? What activities do I want my target group to use the vehicles for? In addition, there must be sufficient cell phone reception so that riders can book and use the vehicles.

The MünsterlandRad service is largely aimed at tourists, who can then use the shared bikes to explore Münster's surroundings. Therefore, the locations of the bikes were chosen so that they can be used at central tourism points. There was also a pilot phase to test the sharing and the locations of the bikes. The pilot phase was closely linked to the "Castles and Palaces Project" of Münsterland e.V.. The goal of the project was to boost tourism in the castles, palaces and the connecting bike paths. While some of the sites dropped out of the pilot phase, others were added. There was a lot of trial and error. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

"During the pilot phase, we tried to test as many diverse sites as possible. Some locations have been retained from the pilot phase. The bikes are now located at or near important castles, at tourist information offices, at vacation home rentals, at train stations or a camp site. These are all locations with good accessibility and high foot traffic from potential customers."

To also provide the target group with the best user experience, MünsterlandRad offers location-based sharing. This means that the bikes are returned to the exact station where they were borrowed: "Our main target group is overnight guests and day tourists, and we want to give them a high degree of planning security. The bikes can be reserved accordingly while booking the accommodation."

This ensures that the bikes are always at the stations designated for them. Thus, MünsterlandRad offers a balance between flexibility, spontaneity and planning reliability.

Ideal locations for carsharing and bike sharing

From Bike Sharing Provider to Sharing Consultant

In addition to tourists, other stakeholders benefit from MünsterlandRad's shared mobility offering:

"As a rule, the local players, i.e., tour operators and service providers, are grateful for the offer because we are actually closing real gaps in supply in many places. In the second year, we are now also noticing a clear increase in demand from end customers. The offer is slowly establishing itself," explains Laukötter.

For example, having a shared bike station in the vicinity is a plus for landlords of vacation apartments and houses. The additional flexibility offered by the mobility service can be a decisive factor in a booking decision.

Other municipalities have now recognized the potential of the service landscape with included bike sharing and are turning to MünsterlandRad to learn from their many years of expertise in bicycle tourism and build on their success. Here, MünsterlandRad acts as a consultant and partner for municipalities:

"We are currently receiving inquiries from many municipalities about various mobility offers. Currently, a pilot project for e-bike sharing is being implemented in a municipality, but we have also received inquiries about e-kick scooters. We are thus evolving from a classic bike rental company to a mobility provider in rural areas," explains Laukötter.

Addressing Users on All Channels

The fact that MünsterlandRad is so successful is due in no small part to the provider's broad marketing measures, which ensure that bike sharing is well known. The combination of online and offline measures in particular is proving to be extremely effective. For example, MünsterlandRad provides information via its own online communication channels, such as its homepage and social media pages. In addition, close networking with partners is valuable: tourist associations, city marketing agencies and owners of local businesses also draw attention to the bike sharing. MünsterlandRad has also created flyers for each municipality, which are displayed in catering establishments, vacation apartments and vacation homes, as well as hotels, thus directly addressing the target group.

The combination of online and offline measures in particular is proving to be extremely effective. For example, MünsterlandRad provides information via its own online communication channels, such as its homepage and social media pages. In addition, close networking with partners is valuable: tourist associations, city marketing agencies and owners of local businesses also draw attention to the bike sharing. MünsterlandRad has also created flyers for each municipality, which are displayed in catering establishments, vacation apartments and vacation homes, as well as hotels, thus directly addressing the target group.

Touristinformation at Münster

A Look Into the Future

The Münster area is already one of the leading cycling regions in Germany. Digital bike rental is intended to further strengthen this position and close supply gaps in bike rental in the region. The goal is to create a broad system for all 4 Münsterland districts and the city of Münster.


MünsterlandRad Webpage (DE)
Logo MünsterlandRad

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