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Reynolds-Alberta Museum Turns Motorcycle Ride Into A Roaring Success

The Reynolds-Alberta Museum had its very own “when you build it, they will come” moment last summer.

In late August, the Wetaskiwin museum’s Motorcycle Ride to Reynolds attracted over 1,000 ride participants, plus more than 400 additional visitors, bumping up visitation rates for that day by 639 per cent.

The first-ever event provided a new way for Reynolds-Alberta Museum to leverage its collection and attract new visitors during a “staycation” summer. What’s more, the event’s innovation and execution earned the Motorcycle Ride to Reynolds a 2016 Marketing Partnership Alto Award, which recognizes an exceptional marketing partnership each year.

The secret to such resounding first-time success? “Stay true to your core vision and find a like-minded partner,” says Cynthia Blackmore, head of marketing and communications at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.

About The Museum

Open since 1992, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum interprets the impact of technological change in transportation, aviation, agriculture and industry from the 1890s to the present.

Visitors see a wide variety of vintage automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, stationary engines, tractors, agricultural implements, aircraft and industrial equipment.

Although motorcycles are part of its collections, exhibits and mandate, Blackmore said they hadn’t been attracting as many motorcycle enthusiasts as they thought they could.

More than 80 per cent of their visitors come from Alberta, so they wanted to leverage the recent “staycation” opportunity. They identified a weekend in August that didn’t have other motorcycle events planned.

“We wanted to do something especially for this audience,” says Blackmore. “The goal was to enhance our reputation among the motorcycle community as a great place to visit by offering up a unique ride destination.”

About The Ride

The Motorcycle Ride to Reynolds was held on Aug. 20, 2016, a beautiful, sunny Alberta day.

It included free admission to the museum for all who road in on a motorcycle, assigned parking, a free dealers’ lunch, a display of more than 40 Honda motorcycles from the 1950s and 60s, test rides on new Honda products, dining specials at Cruisers Café and behind-the-scenes tours of the Collections Storage Facility.

For the Ride to Reynolds, the museum partnered with Honda Canada Inc., which was looking for a platform to thank their dealers and customers, and showcase their newest products.

“We had the same objectives,” says Blackmore. “A sharing of the love of the machine and a desire to welcome everyone and all brands.”

The partners had hoped for 300 participants. With more than a 1,000 visitors flooding their gates, they are planning another Motorcycle Ride to Reynolds on Aug. 19, 2017.

The event was marketed through online and social media channels with both partners posting to their websites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Targeted online ads were purchased and free event listings such as ATIS were used.

The museum also engaged influencer Belt Drive Betty, a motorcycle media personality and blogger with thousands of Twitter and Facebook followers and 489,000 unique visitors a year to her digital newspaper.

Riders came from all over the province, including Medicine Hat, Grand Prairie, Calgary, Rocky Mountain House and Edmonton.

Total attendance for the day was 1,417. More than 1,000 people rode in on more than 900 motorcycles. Even with free admission to riders and passengers, revenue for the day was almost $15,000.

Secrets to Success

“Part of the reason the ride worked so well is because the event was really in our wheelhouse,” says Blackmore. “It was something new, absolutely, but it was still part of our core mandate.”

The partnership with Honda was critical.

“They shared our values and vision. They had a deep commitment to creating a real tourism experience for visitors. And, of course, the social media power they were able to bring to bear played a huge role in our marketing success.”

The ability to act fast on a good idea helped too. The team pulled the event together in a matter of months.

Blackmore says Travel Alberta played a key role along the way with training, resources and advice. The Reynolds-Alberta Museum has participated in many Travel Alberta programs including the Cooperative Marketing Investment program, the Explorer Quotient™ (EQ) workshop series, the SHiFT program and more.

“Travel Alberta is helping us stay current in a marketplace that is always changing,” says Blackmore.

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