Fourth annual Bike Trail Tourism Conference set for March 30

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Michael Gould, left, manager of business development with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and an avid bicyclist, chatted before the 2015 Bike Trail Tourism Conference with Jim Miller, Raccoon River Valley Trail Association member and fellow biker. Gould will lead the opening session of the 2017 conference, scheduled for Thursday, March 30 at the Hotel Pattee in Perry.

Pre-registration seats are filling fast for the Thursday, March 30 Bike Trail Tourism Conference, organizers said this week. The annual conference draws experts in economic development and trail promotion to the Hotel Pattee in Perry for the one-day conference.

The theme of the fourth annual Bike Trail Tourism Conference — “Capturing More Trail Potential” —  will focus on helping trail businesses reach more trail users and growing local economies on or near the trail that capture the community potential of the trails.



Deb Bengtson, director of Adel Partners Chamber of Commerce and one of the conference organizers, said conference registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., with the program running 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,” Bengtson said. “Those trails are a great linkage between our communities and the larger metro area, great ‘quality of life’ assets and a real opportunity for our trail towns to attract more trail users out from the metro area.”

She said the conference’s 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,” Bengtson said. “We’ll also be discussing the progress to complete the final link between Woodward and Perry that will connect these two major trails.”

The conference will open with a presentation from Michael Gould, manager of business development at the Iowa Economic Development Authority. He will set the keynote for the conference and discuss the larger picture of trails and tourism in Iowa.

Gould will also discuss the potential for central Iowa trails to draw people from beyond central Iowa and the economic impact of bike tourism on towns towns on and near the trails will also be highlighted.

The conference will be organized around four trail-related topics:

1. An economic impact study of the trail presented Dallas County Conservation Board Director Mike Wallace, in which key findings from a trail study conducted by students at Iowa State University will be analyzed.

2. 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 Michael Gould, manager of business development at the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

3. Targeted marketing on a small-business budget will be discussed by Moffatt and Kristine Reeves of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, experts in how small businesses on and near the trail can target market their products and services to trail users.

4. Marketing the Des Moines area by Erin Haines and Addison Bratvold of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, an insider’s look at how the CVB markets the area to visitors, with discussion of ways individual businesses and trail communities use some of the same strategies in marketing to trail users and trail visitors.

Jay Hartz, owner of the Hotel Pattee in Perry, said Common Thread’s annual Bike Trail Tourism Conference is a great way to kick off the bike trail season.

“Trail counts are going up every year,” Hartz said, “and when we get the connection between Woodard with the High Trestle Trail and Perry with the Raccoon River Valley Trail, linking these two great trails, I think the numbers will just soar.”

Hartz said the conference itself has seen steady growth since 2014.

“We’re pleased to host the 2017 bike trail tourism conference,” he said. “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.”

The chief sponsor of the 2017 Bike Trail Tourism Conference is Common Thread, a regional consortium of towns on the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail. Sharing sponsorship responsibilities are the City of Perry, the Center for Towncraft in Perry, a collaboration between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the City of Perry, and Bolton and Menk Inc.

Conference registration is $25 per person and includes lunch and all conference materials.

Pre-registration is required by March 24. Click here for a registration form or visit the Common Thread website.

To register send your name and address, along with a check to:

City of Perry, Attn: Bike Conf., P.O. Box 545, Perry, IA 50220.

Please make checks payable to: City of Perry

For more information, call Butch Niebuhr at 515-249-8696, Sven Peterson at 515-465-2481 or Alan Vandehaar at 515-537-3964.

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