PERRY, Iowa, March 24, 2017 -- A 4th annual Bike Trail Tourism Conference," this one with the theme of "Capturing More Trail Potential," will be Thursday, March 30, at the Hotel Pattee in this central Iowa trail town.
The focus of the day will be on, 1) helping businesses on or near trails think about strategies to reach more trail users, and 2) helping communities on or near the trail develop strategies to capture the growing economic potential of our trails, said Deb Bengtson, director of Adel Partners Chamber of Commerce, one of the conference organizers.
The conference registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“We’re so fortunate to have the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle trails here in central Iowa," said Bengtson. "Those trails are a great linkage between our communities and the larger metro area, as a great ‘quality of life’ asset and a real opportunity for our trail towns to attract more trail users out from the metro area. Our primary audience is businesses and local leaders of towns on the trail. We want to give them ideas and strategies to get more economic benefit from our trails.”
There will also be discussion about the progress on the 9-mile-long connector trail being planned between Woodward and Perry, linking the RRVT and High Trestle trails trails.
The leadoff speaker at 9 a.m. will be Michael Gould, manager of business development at the Iowa Economic Development Authority and a veteran bicyclist. He will set the stage for the conference and discuss the larger picture of trails and tourism in Iowa, as well as the potential of central Iowa trails to draw people from beyond this area, and how all this can impact towns on and near the trails.
The conference will then focus on four trail-related topics:
--A "Trail Economic Impact Study," presented by Mike Wallace, director of Dallas County Conservation. This will include key findings from a trail study conducted by students at Iowa State University.
--What the ISU trail study means in the larger context of economic development for individual trail businesses and for communities in the region, presented by Gould, the state economic development official.
--"Targeted Marketing on a Small Business Budget," by Christina Moffatt and Kristine Reeves of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. They will discuss how small businesses on and near the trail can effectively reach trail users.
--"Marketing the Des Moines area. Erin Haines and Addison Bratvold of the Greater DM Convention and Visitors Bureau will discuss how the CVB markets the area to visitors and discuss how individual businesses and trail communities could utilizes some of the same strategies in marketing to trail users and trail visitors.
“Trail counts are going up every year, and when we get the connection between Woodward on the High Trestle Trail and Perry on the RRVT, I think the numbers will soar," said Jay Hartz, co-owner of the Hotel Pattee and an enthusiastic trail booster. "We’re pleased to host the 2017 bike trail tourism conference. It can help all businesses on the trail if we can get more trail users out of the metro area, and get more of them into our local businesses. One of our strategies to grow our business is to focus on bike trail users and do all we can do to give them a great experience when they eat a meal here or stay overnight with us. We continue to see a steady increase in trail users coming to the hotel.”
Hartz is offering Hotel Pattee rooms at $99 for Wednesday night before the conference, and you can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conference sponsors are Common Thread, a regional consortium of towns on the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail; the City of Perry; the Center for Towncraft, a collaboration between Iowa State University Extension & Outreach and the City of Perry, and the engineering & development company Bolton & Menk Inc.
As last year, the conference will end with a "Handlebar Happy Hour" at the La Poste reception center near the hotel in downtown Perry, with singer-guitarist Chad Elliott performing at 4:30 p.m. The reception is sponsored by Bolton & Menk.
Conference registration is $25 per person which includes lunch and all conference materials.
Pre-registration is required. Information and registration is online by clicking here.
Or, send your name and address, along with a check to City of Perry, Attn: Bike Conf., P.O. Box 545, Perry, IA 50220.
For more information contact Butch Niebuhr, 515-249-8696; Sven Peterson, 515-465-2481, or Alan Vandehaar, 515-537-3964.