Speakers: Mike Fox, Tourism Vancouver; Chris Hughes, Bruce County Tourism; Oliver Flaser, Tourism Whistler
Facilitator: Barrett Fisher, Tourism Whistler
Speakers at this session examined how communities can increase their appeal to mountain bikers, and how local resources can be harnessed to build successful events.
Chris Hughes' Tips:
- If a city or region has a precedent for tourism, it's easier to sell them on mountain biking. Bruce County brings in $224 million in tourism and sees 2.2 million visitors per year. In July, 2005, Bruce saw 5,800 riders come to their freeride park without any marketing or advertising, setting the stage for a targeted campaign
- When marketing sports tourism, it is best to focus on a specific activity. It's important to use targeted mediums when advertising, such as sport-specific publications and websites.
- Optimally, for every 1 hour of driving, a tourist should have options for at least 4 hours of activity at the destination.
Oliver Flaser's Tips:
- Mountain bikers tend to spend more money than less-active tourists. In Whistler, they usually stay in rental units instead of choosing hotels or camping, and stay longer than other visitors, on average.
- Signature events help increase brand awareness. Whistler hosts "The Month of Pain," Crankworx and The Cheakamus Challenge.
- As mountain bike events become more established, they can expand to appeal to visitors that are not specifically mountain bikers. Crankworx is now a lifestyle event, with musical acts, film showings and mainstream corporate partners, in addition to the mountain bike events.
- It is important to leverage corporate partnerships to increase awareness. Crankworx was able to get a television commercial aired during the Stanley Cup finals in Canada, thanks to a major beer sponsor.
Mike Fox's Tips:
- After events are over, they leave legacies like facilities, increased sports awareness and greater community development. This is especially noticeable in cities that hosted Olympic events.
- Other benefits of hosting an event include employment opportunities and increased government income through tax dollars.
- Conference and visitors bureaus can help with event hosting and organization. Local government, city services, volunteers and sponsors can also be tapped for assistance.