Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ride Lake Superior Hits the Road Running

Motorcycle touring continues to grow in popularity and the Lake Superior circle tour has the potential to be branded as North America's premier riding destination.

In 2011, "Ride Lake Superior" was born out of a series of motorcycle tourism readiness workshops held in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie and later in the year, Calumet Michigan. These sessions, developed and delivered by Chris Hughes of BC Hughes Tourism Consulting, brought together tourism industry partners to learn more about the growth of this tourism segment, their needs and how to capture more of them in our establishment. What came quickly out of the workshops was a cool branding exercise, lots of enthusiasm and almost every major tourism partner around the lake collecting data on their motorcycle friendly partners.

The touring market is perhaps the single best new method to attract leisure visitors to our festivals, events and attractions. In the past we've always lead with singular attractions and events in isolation of each other with, admittedly, very limited success. the reality is that many leisure travellers like a linear route with spectacular scenery. They like to explore and they like to keep exploring. The highway corridor forms the spine of the route. The attractions, events and culinary wonders combine to bring that route to life and expand the value to the consumer. Its a better way to promote a wider range of our attractions.

This past weekend, partners from various points around the lake converged at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show to promote "Ride Lake Superior" to Minnesota's massive avid motorcycle base. There are over 230 000 registers bikes in the state and over 400 000 licenced riders. Over twenty thousand of these folks stormed through the gates for the three day show, with the Lake Superior route proved to be the only destination being marketed at a show where virtually every motorcycle manufacturer and aftermarket shop was out in full force

We've had twenty thousand of Lake Superior magazine's pocket maps specially printed with the Ride Lake Superior information and over five thousand were distributed at the show along with information from communities and regions around the lake. Being able to capture the attention of up to twenty percent of show attendees was impressive and speaks to the hunger in the US Midwest for the "Big Lake"

We had inquiries from hotel chains, motorcycle media and organized clubs all weekend long. This is a new trend in group travel as well as bikers typically travel in a pack. We heard from numerous folks that they planned on group rides of six to twenty bikes. Just imagine that every day during motorcycle season, as few as twenty five new riders enter the touring route for a five to seven day tour. That's over thirty seven hundred new visitors to the lake basin annually, pumping over $5.8 million into the regional economy. This is exactly why a regional approach to leisure tourism is so essential to growing the industry. We have to work together to make the pie bigger and we aren't going to do it in isolation from one another.

The call to action for this campaign is RideLakeSuperior.com, the web portal that consumers register with to create their own custom itineraries and receive updates on the growing number of motorcycle friendly attractions, restaurants and hotels around the lake. These are the places with towels in their rooms to wipe down bikes, discounts for riders or group rides, covered or secure parking for bikes, organized biker events and more. Basically, the little things that make bikers feel welcome when they travel.

This is only the beginning. The campaign aims to grow into the future to include more consumer shows in key Canadian and US motorcycle markets, digital, social and print media support, travel Media familiarization tours and more. Its an exciting time for Lake Superior, for regional thinking in tourism and the power of partnerships focused on one goal. Growing the industry.

If you want more information on this or want to get involved, visit RideLakeSuperior.com.

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