How to cite this study
Spencer, D. 2006. Characteristics and Behavior of Tourists Who Visited the George S. Mickelson Trail During the 2005 Peak Season. Submitted to Black Hills Community Economic Development/Mickelson Trail Coalition. Spearfish, SD: Center for Tourism Research, Black Hills State University.
The George S. Mickelson Trail (GSMT) is a multipurpose recreational trail that spans 114 miles across South Dakota beginning in the Black Hills. Researchers compiled survey data from 2,388 trail users who resided outside of the Black Hills Region. They analyzed the perceptions and use patterns of tourism activity on the GSMT and found that respondents were primarily attracted to the trail by the scenery and mountain biking opportunities. Their marketing recommendations include increasing promotion strategies such as providing more shuttle services, creating an online system to buy daily and annual passes, and administering more information about the trail through online advertising and brochures.
This study is relevant to those interested in using surveys to improve marketing strategies and assess the best price to charge trail users. The study highlights the perspectives and activity levels of the 2,388 respondents who reside outside the Black Hills region, using a survey instrument. It should be noted that the preferences and willingness-to-pay of respondents are specific to GSMT users in 2005, but the author’s methodology is generally applicable to examining respondents’ behaviors and pricing perceptions.
This study is located in South Dakota in the Black Hills region.
This study focuses on the George S. Mickelson Trail (GSMT), a 114-mile multipurpose, non-motorized recreational trail used primarily by bikers and hikers. Purchasers of annual passes generally tend to be residents of the Black Hills area; purchasers of daily passes generally tend to be nonresidents.
The purpose of this study was to estimate tourism activity on the GSMT. The study was conducted by the Center for Tourism Research at Black Hills State University, with financial assistance from the Black Hills Community Development/Mickelson Trail Coalition.
- Eighty-five percent of respondents considered the daily pass cost of $2.00 for the Mickelson Trail as appropriate. The average response to the inquiry, “What is the most you would pay for a Mickelson Trail daily pass to contribute to the Trail’s improvements?” was $4.39.
- The study suggests that marketing could be improved by creating an online system where visitors could purchase daily and annual passes. Since this method would collect contact information, it could be used for email advertising and promotion of the trail, with the most valuable time period being 80-90 days before the start of the season.
- When participants were asked to list the three things they liked least about the trail, the most common response was “nothing,” which highlights the importance of preserving the overall character of the trail and that changes like adding signage or development should be undertaken with this in mind. The second most popular response was the poor quality of the trail surface.
- Mountain biking was the most popular means of transportation utilized on the trail.
- Respondents who spent more tended to have higher incomes, travel in larger groups, and plan their trips further in advance. They were also more likely to have visited outdoor recreation, environmental, or travel-related websites within the previous year and be mountain biking enthusiasts.
- The researchers recommend that the marketing of the GSMT should frame the trail as a “trip enhancer” or one of the many additional reasons to visit the Black Hills since many visitors already want to dine out, visit museums, and participate in social and recreational activities in the area.
This study uses a 9-page, 55-question survey instrument to assess the views and activities of visitors who purchased daily passes between May 1, 2005, and October 31, 2005. Sampling error is not a limitation in their research since nearly all daily pass-holders were surveyed. Nonsampling errors could arise from their mailing list or data entry, though these inaccuracies are random and not a notable limitation. Response rates were maximized with souvenir and voucher incentives as well as repeated contact with non-responding households. These techniques resulted in an adjusted response rate of 80.3% with 3,117 responses. Because the study focused on tourists, the author analyzed the 2,388 responses from those who resided outside of the Black Hills region.
Added to library on November 7, 2023