Trails aren’t just Pathways

My top 5 insights from the TRC Sustainable Trails Conference 2024 in Central Otago New Zealand

Last week Carl and I attended the TRC Sustainable Trails Conference 2024 in Central Otago New Zealand, and it was a veritable treasure trove of insights into trail opportunities, not just within Central Otago, but across broader horizons.

Charlotte & Carl at the 2024 Sustainable Trails Conference in Central Otago, New Zealand

Here’s a roundup of the illuminating takeaways from this enriching event, peppered with some fresh insights:

1. Rising competition in the cycling and walking trail market

As more resources are injected into trail development, the landscape is becoming increasingly more competitive. Trails are now locked in a battle for attention and foot (or cycling) traffic, emphasising the need for top-notch quality and a sprinkle of uniqueness. It’s not just about laying down paths; it’s about creating experiences that sparkle in a sea of options.

2. Not all trails are created equal

While the allure of trails is undeniable, not every trail has the mojo to attract visitors to a region. The quality of the trail and its surrounding landscape, including urban areas, wield significant influence on its charm. Trails must offer something special, something that captures the hearts of visitors and locals alike, like a magnetic force drawing them in.

3. Shifting perspectives in Australia

There is a prevailing sentiment of “Build it and they will come.” Yet, as the market saturates, this approach needs to undergo a metamorphosis. Creating trail brands or experiential brands that forge emotional connections with visitors is becoming paramount. It’s about crafting experiences that resonate deeply, creating memories that linger long after the journey ends. The experiential brand is not about the logo, but rather understanding what will emotionally connect with the target market.

4. The power of branding

Enter the ‘Finch Hatton MTB’ brand for the Mackay region in Queensland – a shining exemplar of the might of branding. By weaving a narrative that strikes an emotional chord with its audience, this mountain biking trail has carved a niche for itself amidst stiff competition. It’s proof that success isn’t just about laying down trails; it’s about spinning tales that captivate and linger.

5. Central Otago’s sustainable tourism commitment

Central Otago emerges as a torchbearer of sustainable tourism, with its trail networks serving as its backbone. The region’s unwavering dedication to long-term planning and development ensures that its trails remain resilient, offering value to both residents and visitors alike. It’s a testament to the transformative power of public infrastructure when coupled with foresight and resolve.

So, there you have it… my key insights into the realm of trail development and sustainable tourism. From navigating market maelstroms to the indomitable power of branding, the event illuminated the multifaceted challenges and opportunities in the industry.

Central Otago’s trail networks stand tall as a beacon of what can be achieved through strategic planning and community engagement. So, as we chart our course forward, let’s remember that trails aren’t just pathways – they’re conduits to unforgettable experiences and cherished memories that enrich our lives.

Follow our work with Finch Hatton MTB

More News