Thursday, March 26, 2009

Luring the Lifestyle Nomads

Bend has picked up another one of those "Best Of" honors: This time, it's being touted as "America's Top Mountain Biking Town" in Mountain Bike

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Bend has picked up another one of those "Best Of" honors: This time, it's being touted as "America's Top Mountain Biking Town" in Mountain Bike Action magazine.

According to KTVZ's report, the editors "praised everything from access and lodging, to weather and friendly locals as reasons why they made their ultimate decision." The story will appear in the May issue of the 66,000-circulation magazine when it hits the newsstands.

Doug LaPlaca, president and CEO of Visit Bend, a local tourism promotion outfit, was preening over winning this distinction.

"To prevail over such respected mountain biking destinations as those we were up against is a perfect example of Bend's business community rallying together to support tourism and leave a positive and lasting impression on the editors that will reap rewards for years to come," he said. "From Cog Wild Bicycle Tours and Phoenix Inn, to Green Energy Transportation, Deschutes Brewery and several local bike shops and other businesses, this honor is truly a city-wide achievement."

Mountain Bike Action Editor-in-Chief Jim McIlvan and Assistant Editor John Ker visited Bend for four days last September and went on several bike trips, including Cog Wild's Ochoco Mountain, Cascade Lakes and Bachelor-to-Bend tours.

The Eye doesn't know what methodology the editors employed, but having run our own public relations business for a number of years, we have some idea of how these deals work: 1. Magazine writer is offered an all-expenses-paid junket to the town that's trying to promote itself; 2. Writer has a good time enjoying the local hospitality, the local recreation and the local beer; 3. Local businesses and/or organizations (typically) buy some ads in the magazine; 4. Magazine declares town "Best Of" something or other.

The article might draw a few more mountain bikers to Bend to spend a few bucks on lodging, meals and what have you, and that's all to the good. But The Eye has to wonder about the long-term value of puff pieces like this.

What kind of people decide to move to a town on the basis of its mountain biking - or skiing, rock climbing or whatever? Our guess is they tend to be what we call "lifestyle nomads" - folks whose lives revolve around recreation. They move somewhere because they read about it in a magazine, they stay a couple of years until they're tired of it, then they move on to the next "best" place that they saw in another magazine.

Lifestyle nomads might be perfectly nice people - but, for the most part, they're not the type who put down roots, establish businesses, serve on the school board or the city council and work to build a good community with a solid, sustainable economy.

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