Sports Cycling and Cayman a marketing match?

Although cycling may be associated with big mountains, Cayman’s excellent winter weather, as well as proximity to the United States, makes it an interesting alternative for early season team building camps for the world’s top professional teams. This realisation sparked Tom McCallum to action, and his efforts have been rewarded with the 2011 lineup of the Garmin-Cervelo team spending their first training camp of the season in Cayman.

Cycling might not be the first sport that springs to mind when thinking about an avenue to promote Cayman. However, the sport might just be the perfect fit and the Cayman Pro Cycling Camp 2010 currently under way could well be the start of something big.

Although cycling has been a big sport in the European market for many years, it was the Tour de France exploits of Lance Armstrong that did the most to draw attention to the sport in the United States. However, unlike many other sports where followers remain passive consumers of media, cycling allows fans to take up the sport, regardless of age and physical condition. A key part of this is a fanatical interest in what the professional cyclists do – what they ride, what they wear and even where they train.

With cycling currently in the off season around the globe, news is hard to come by. However, when it was announced that Garmin-Transitions, owned and operated by Slipstream Sports, and Cervelo SA would join forces to create a new super team for the 2011 season, Garmin-Cervelo, it made headlines in the international cycling media. Speculation was rife on how the two teams would mesh, especially as it would bring together two traditional sprinting rivals, reigning world champion Thor Hushovd of Cervelo and Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Transitions.

The team is also home to other top cyclists including former top five Tour de France finisher Christian Vande Velde, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and world championship time trial silver medallist, Scottish cyclist David Millar, four time US national time trial champion Dave Zabriskie and one of the revelations of the 2010 season, Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal.

Although the team is based in the United States with the core of riders hailing from there, it includes cyclists from all around the globe, including Europe, Australasia and South America.

The global reach of the team, with a strong focus on the North American market and a following throughout the English speaking world, is a perfect fit for Cayman’s traditional tourism marketing.

The fit is even better when one takes a look at some of the demographics associated with cycling.

With some 2.1 million readers, Bicycling is one of the most influential cycling publications in the United States. According to the magazine’s 2009 reader survey, over 80 per cent of these readers are between the ages of 25 to 54, with more than 70 per cent having attended college and an average household income just shy of $90,000. This indicates that this group is potentially a very good market for Cayman. Although these numbers are specific to the US market, similar trends are present in other markets that have traditionally been important to Cayman Islands tourism.

The team members were even issued with their new bicycles for the 2011 season at the Cayman training camp and although this might not seem important to non cyclists, the unveiling of these bicycles was a keenly anticipated event in the cycling world. The same goes for the design of the team’s new cycling kit, as the Garmin-Transitions kit has been some of the most distinctive in the cycling world over the last couple of years and much speculation was focussed on the appearance of the new kit.

With the international cycling media well represented at the camp, images of the team training on their new bicycles in Cayman have gone around the globe and been consumed by a demographic perfectly suited to Cayman’s tourism market. The images also present Cayman as the ideal venue for a healthy, active vacation, which builds on the existing branding.
According to local organiser McCallum, it is hoped that the cycling camp will become an annual event and one that can be built into a marquee event for the Cayman Islands.

The main sponsors of the Cayman Pro Cycling Camp 2010 are The Ministry and Department of Tourism, the Reef Resort, Walkers and Piedra Winery, with The Cayman Islands Journal serving as the local media partner for the event.

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