FARMINGTON — Motorcycle tourism and other emerging trends are the focus of a public workshop from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 27 at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Office, 138 Pleasant St.

After working on the program, Marc Edwards from the Extension stopped at a local gas station in town to find two fully-loaded Harley-Davidsons owned by a husband and wife from Michigan. They were taking a tour of the Northeast and enjoying the scenery.

Tourists like this, including many baby boomers, are being noticed throughout the country. Virginia is even preparing to build the first rest area designed for motorcyclists, he said.

Gone are the stereotyped thoughts of a rough and tumble crowd of bikers riding the scenic back roads of Maine. Research replaces those ideas with the fact that many professionals riding expensive bikes are taking trips. They like to camp, enjoy fishing, dining in area restaurants and shopping in unique stores, he said.

While many small businesses have limited time and resources to conduct research on tourism trends, Edwards has done the work and is prepared to bring information about tourism to lodging and dining operators, fishing guides and those who offer outdoor experiences.

The workshop is open to anyone and will explore three areas. First is basic marketing information to help participants identify key components of marketing their business. The second area focuses on motorcycle tourism, what they are looking for and how local businesses can provide these opportunities and take steps to capitalize on this market, he said.

“That may require shifting some products and services to meet their needs. One bed and breakfast owner in the county already provides a safe, secure storage area for visitors’ motorcycles,” he said.

Northern Outdoors in The Forks has also actively looked at this trend and is doing specific activities to capture this market. Co-owner Russell Walters, who lives in Kingfield, will discuss their efforts, Edwards said.

During the workshop, participants will also look at the shifting baby boomer market. Many of these are now empty nesters looking for a quieter experience, a romantic getaway, different dining experiences and ways to experience nature. They enjoy site-seeing but are also looking for active trips. While bus tours throughout New England or to the casinos still have a place in tourism, the shifting baby boomer market wants more than a sedentary experience, he said.

According to Edwards’ research, The Rider Friendly initiative was started in Canada to “encourage establishments to promote themselves to riders. Motorcyclists are on the constant lookout for Rider Friendly hotels, restaurants and service stations.”

After this first workshop, the program will be “fined tuned” depending on feedback and offered again at some time. Edwards plans to continue to keep on top of merging trends and changing markets of interest to tourism businesses.

The workshop is free. Registration is requested, but no one is turned away, he said. For more information or to register, call 778-4650.

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