One of our readers: Ed "GearJammer" Howe sent in an appropriate and timely article on the conduct of riders and how they can negatively impact their own customer service experiences in hotels, motels etc.

My wife and I have been traveling on our bikes for several years now.  My wife rides a HD Heritage Softtail and I ride an HD Road Glide.  We have ridden extensively in  British Columbia, Alberta and have visited Washington and Idaho.   We have stayed at  many motels, hotels and campsites and eaten at many restaurants over the years. In all that time, we have never had a negative experience that could be traced to our mode of travel.  Usually when we register, the desk clerk suggests that we may park our bikes right in front of the lobby so that the staff can keep an eye on them for us. So, when I read an article that promotes the need for "rider friendly education for establishments"  I am left wondering, why?  Have we been incredibly fortunate in our experiences?  I doubt it.
 Perhaps it is a perceived issue that really is based upon a few incidents that may or may not have been the fault of the establishments.  Let's face it, some riders/bikers seem to think it is necessary to promote the movie version of bikers, exuding an attitude of the "outlaw" biker, wearing leather or denim jackets  and helmets festooned in patches, crests, etc.  They pull up on excessively loud bikes, are verbally abusive, and demanding. Of course that is going to set a negative tone. I have seen this  happen and noticed the way the clerk's attitude changed in moments. Can you blame the clerk? 
Maybe what is really needed is to educate those few that seem to think good manners are for somebody else. Gear Jammer

Well Ed, being a female rider I have unfortunately experienced negative customer service because I rode a bike. I was turned away at a motel in Rocky Mountain House - used to be called the Carriage House - it's been sold and has new owners now but in 2004 when I went to the Alberta Ladies Rally  I was told my kind wasn't wanted at the motel. I rode a Suzuki Volusia that was whisper quiet and I was frozen - cold. No attitude being coped then I can assure you. I have had other, not so good experiences - that one was just the most painful one....

Since then I have heard horrid stories of women being treated like they are lesbians because they ride together and have heard other rotten, nasty comments and stories of terrible treatment. I have heard of awful stories where people were turned away with no where to sleep at night...riding at night is NOT my favorite thing to do.

But what you say has much validity as well Ed; GENERALLY - if you come in with the right attitude, if you are polite and respectful your experience will probably go well.

For the most part, educating the staff on what the needs of riders are and why those needs exist, reminding them that we are like any other customer - these are refresher courses in customer service and refresher courses are something most employees can benefit from. 

For businesses that want to be designated as rider friendly, helping them to identify areas of improvement to their facility, explaining why secured parking and ground floor rooms are so welcome - what makes riders turn in to an establishment, these things are important and if a business wants to attract more riders they need to know how to do that.

You and your wife have been very fortunate. Is it the way you conduct yourself? 
YES, that probably accounts for 90% of your good fortune along with the changing views on riders, however there are many places you could experience or travel to that would shock you as to how bad the treatment can be. 

Reaffirming good customer service techniques and knowledge is never a bad thing and training people on how to be helpful to the growing number of consumers who ride isn't a bad thing. Redundant? Not really - we still have lines of discrimination to deal with and erase, what are commonly referred to as travel and toruism barriers.

Customer service in Canada at least from my experience has been pretty sad no matter where you go,  no matter what industry you discuss. For those business owners who are willing to refresh their staff's minds on what good customer service experiences should look like - I think that's just shrewd business and that they want to work with motorcyclists - well I think that's just awesome for our community.

In the news today:
JD Power has done a Customer Satisfaction survey - their 12th, regarding motorcycle dealers and the sales experience and guess what, in the hungry American market - CUSTOMER Service is IMPROVING...

Anti NOISE - The Wisconsin Legislature has the "Noisy Dozen" award for a resolution declaring Harley as the state's official motorcycle. Noise Free America is upset.
Legislators say they have no remorse about nominating Harley-Davidson as the state's official motorcycle, putting it in the same league as the state song, ballad, dance, beverage, tree, flower, bird, insect and animal.

Harley is one of Wisconsin's largest private employers, and its activities bring thousands of tourists here.

"When I hear loud motorcycle pipes, I think of people having fun and I think of jobs," said State Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee), a resolution sponsor. Noise Free America's complaints are "ridiculous in the extreme," according to Plale. "I am proud to accept their Dirty Dozen award, and I look forward to hanging it on my wall," he said.

Well, that's it for me today, year end books and invoicing to do along with two hard, hard weeks updating the 2010 event calendars is what's on the agenda for me...

If you are one of those lucky people who lives where you can ride that motorcycle of yours...PLEASE, ride like everyone around you is blind and can not see you.

Belt Drive Betty
National VP A.I.M. Can

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