Greg du Vermont

FCMQ requests QR feedback

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Officials from the FCMQ have asked me (as an American Quebec Rider) for feedback on what efforts and initiatives are of most interest and importance to American Quebec Riders.

What features do we find unique to Quebec, that keep us coming?

What realities have reduced our numbers? If you know snowmobilers who have stopped snowmobiling Quebec, what were the reasons?

What efforts could encourage more riders to choose Quebec as a destination?

We are being offered an important voice and I respectfully invite your thoughtful responses.

Cheaper gas and free hotels are probably not options.

I thank you in advance for your participation.

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Usually I have something to add in this type of venue......but I'm stumped trying to find room for improvement in the Quebec snowmobile experience.

Signage, trail maps, grooming.....all relatively excellent imo.

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The only thing I can think of is to stop running us down sanded logging roads, which I know in some situations may be impossible.

The group that originally introduced me to Quebec stopped riding up there when the exchange rate evened out. They have no plans to go back. Nothing the FCMQ can do about that.

Edited by 600IQHO

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I dont think they can do much, It is getting to be very expensive to ride in Quebec. Years ago exchange rates were better and it brought the occasional rider north, but now just the hardcore riders go. Maybe a few more free weekends would help a few more get hooked on our drug.

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Gas is up 25 cents a gallon in the last 2 weeks, beef is up 20% last week, Milk and dairy is up 20% this week, diesel fuel is 425 a gallon, Walmart posted 4th quarter earnings down 22% less than they forcast, existing home sales last month were lowest in last 2 years, and the 154 exchange rate is probably gone forever. IT IS ECONOMIC REALITY. Nothing we can do about it . Quebec offers the very best trails, accomodations and people , most can no longer afford it and the die hards are getting older.

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I have been trekking to Quebec to snowmobile for about 10 years now. Yes it has gotten more expensive, but so has sledding in the United States. Permit fees are high, but at least when you do travel to Quebec to snowmobile....the trails are groomed perfectly. I rode two weeks recently in Quebec.....last week of January and first week of February and the trails were all groomed to a 10. I had maybe one small section of rough trail in 10 days of riding. The trail maintenance is top notch. I cant complain about anything, or think of anything to suggest to improve the wonderful snowmobiling experience.

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Also, great idea making it possible to get trail permits online. I actually got a full season permit because I was able to purchase my permits before the deadline and saved some money as a result.

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Free weekends deter me from coming up due to all the traffic and it kind of ruins the week before and after because if you are coming up from the states you almost need to string those weekend days together. Even though it's not as bad as it "seems" the word of thefts of entire rigs and sleds is fairly prominent in these parts of PA. It's hard to change that image especially when I can honestly say that I don't feel law enforcement up there really gives a crap about it. That is something that could be changed. If "safe" starting points or parking areas are not available you end up always going to the same place or 2 to ride from and to be honest you can eventually get bored of those same trails. Yes most saddlebag but if you wanted to take the family up for 3 or 4 days and stay at one place, the impression is that there are only a few that you can do that from in the southern areas. Maybe there are more but how do you find out?

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I agree with Quebec Bob and new people to this sport are reluctant because of the expense of travel. Could give us a break on the pass rate but I don't think that's the answer. Once it's in your blood we always go back for all that will respond to this!

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Security has always been an issue, and does not seem to get better. The Police take the reports and file them. You never read anything on sting operations busting theft rings, or any effort being done to catch these people. Some Hotels have made more secure areas, but this needs to be promoted to more places. Many people are afraid to go to Quebec in fear of loosing their sleds, trailers, tow vehicles,etc. I have been riding in Quebec for about 25 years, and our group has lost 4 sleds, 2 trailers and 1 truck. That is a lot of iron that was locked with reasonable precautions taken. I guess just not good enough. How about cleaning up the very poor but deserved reputation of thefts, with some real police work and security for our equipment.

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FMCQ: cant control the the Canadian dollar, price of a barrel of oil or far you have to drive or motel rates. Crime is crime, a bank gets robbed every day it seems in little old NH buy some crack head. I lost 3 sleds, trailer + a new truck in 1998 in Victoriaville. Cops found the truck and staked it out for 2 day and arrested a Juvenile. Sleds and trailer gone Kid got 30 day's home arrest and knew it. So, take it easy on the cops to be fair. Stealing stuff thats obviously left for a week like a truck + trailer is easy pickings. anywhere. So, with that said, heres my question...... How much of a refund do Canadians get back with proof of Insurance for the coverage on the FMCQ pass. If they can prove they have the same coverage already. Offering the same insurance refund to riders from the USA would be a nice gesture. This is something the might be able to do. Might be chump change but still nice gesture. Sledding NOT cheap, we all know that + I dont complain of the price of fuel, for the quality of the trails + excellent signage + new bridges ect. Ontario's passes less expensive the PQ why? No liability included, or whats the deal with the difference in quality. Always wondered. Saw a bunch of FMCQ dudes this sporting nice $$$ parka's this winter. Cheers 8)

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Everything here has already been said I think. Theft is alway's a concern, but so far nothing bad has happened to me. The border crossing can suck. It's not so much going into Canada that's the issue though, more when you come back. That's becoming more of an issue with me. Seems like more and more hassle with the 20 questions game and "random" searches everytime I go up there. It's starting to piss me off actually. That attitude probably shows. I'm not a criminal and don't appreciate being made to feel that way. The closing of the parks bothers me a bit, but wouldn't stop me from going. But it's mostly just the money. I only go up there now for a 3 day trip now once a year. Best I can do these day's. Every year I think it may be my last. When you start adding all that up, and compare it to say Maine, honestly US riding is starting to look like a better snowmobiling vacation option unfortunately. But we will never have the trail system down here that they have up there. Nobody does groomed trail snowmobiling better than Quebec.

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If the FCMQ wants to increase snowmobile tourism from the states, they need to find a way to make short-term registrations more affordable and therefore make a week in Quebec more attractive. My guess is if you surveyed who's coming from the states and who is not (and why they're not), you would find the following:

Who comes and why?

Primarily upper-middle class and retired men as individuals (not their families). These men (don't get mad at me, it really is mostly men) have high amounts of disposable income. It's expensive, man.

Who doesn't come and why?

Families. I would say the reason is they are reluctant to spend $190 p/sled for a week reg. When they can go to NH or Maine spend the same or less for a season and not have to pay the extra gas cost. Things add up really fast when you're registering multiple sleds.

Individual men in their 20s-30s who make up a significant portion of the NH, Maine, VT and MA snowmobile demographic. Most are working class that would LOVE to sled in QC, but they already paid for an expensive local reg, and to spend $190 for a week (plus 3x fuel cost in QC) just isn't in an already tight budget.

So, if the intent is to increase business from the states, make it more competitive price-wise to sledding in the states for those that can't afford it now. This could happen many ways: by decreasing reg or advertizing attractive hotel/reg/meals packages. Advertise more in the NH Snow Traveler, and similar publications in VT, Maine, NY and Michigan.

For those that can afford it, create a more targeted marketing campaign toward this demographic: Off the top of my head that could be (sled and spa packages (he sleds, she goes to the spa or takes tennis lessons -or vice verse)), Advertize in men's magazines that target this demographic such as Men's Health, GQ, etc.

Geez, I hope this is what you were looking for :)

O

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Boarder crossing situation between our 2 country's is crazy stupid. I only bring this "taboo" topic because it should be discussed and the FMCQ has the political ears that might listen, maybe. I know of a lot of USA sledders who simply cant get across the boarder for old dumb stuff that happened yrs ago. They get kicked out (very embarrassing ) to say the least, for a grown man who is later successful with a clean nose. On top of ruining everybody's vacation, it leaves a very bad taste. Then, you need to stand on your head, get checked out by the FBI and send in $200 bucks. I have never found out who started this, but the door swings both ways. I have been told it started on our side, and has tit for tat, gotten to where it is now. On my last trip I talked to 4 guys from Ont. one who stopped going to Las Vegas every yr, due to this ball busting. They traveled on a discount style large group and have been going to beaches in Mexico instead. 2 yrs ago while flying back from Mex the plane had to land in AZ for mechanical reasons. 30 people in this Canadian group where denied entry, put on a special bus and stayed in a special hotel under armed guard for the night by us customs, till the next day to fly home. What a waste of $. All 30 had old minor stuff on their records like oui-dwi's from yr's back. True story, heard it first hand. Crazy situation to say the least. Why is it this way between our 2 country's. Who have been friends since the war of 1812......... :db:

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The suggestions and comments above are very good.

We've been riding in Quebec since 1978. Back then we could only afford one or two weekends per season but it was a lot less expensive. Trail passes were around $25 per year and hotel rooms were as inexpensive. But we earned a lot less too.

I'm very fortunate that my wife loves snowmobiling as much as I do.

I think the Quebec boom happened when the exchange rate of $1.00 U.S. bought you $1.50 or more in Canadian. You didn't need a passport to cross the border. Gas was more expensive than in the States but when you factored in the exchange rate, there wasn't much difference. The price of hotel rooms and food hadn't skyrocketed yet and were a bargain after the exchange rate. Most riders probably don't remember when we Americans could get the tax money we spent back at the Duty Free shop on our return to the States. You would turn in your receipts for the hotels and parts you purchased and Duty Free would give you the tax money back. Boy how things have changed.

We go to Quebec because we love it there. We go to ride and as said above, the trail system is superb. This season the trails have been the best we have ever seen. You had to go look for a rough trail. Our hats off to all the groomers.

What we like; the trail system, the hospitality, the accessibility to almost anything via snowmobile, the Canadians and the Americans that we meet, the food, the scenery, etc. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

When I ask others that don't go to Quebec I usually get "I don't want my stuff to get stolen" or "It is too expensive".

Dealing with the theft perception, more hotels should have lock ups for the trucks and trailers. Some do but I think more should and advertise the fact. I know it takes up a lot of real estate but this is one of the determining factors of where we leave our truck and spend our money. And don't charge us for leaving our truck behind. I'm more than happy to stay in the hotel with the lock up for a few nights and buy food and drink if I can leave my truck in their lock up while we go off for a few days saddlebagging.

The expense part of the equation is tough to deal with. Most of it really can't be controlled. One incentive that I like and would love to see spread over the whole Province is the hotel room rate 30% off coupon that is offered by le Quebec Maritime. The discount is only off the room rate but I feel special that I'm getting a break. I'm still spending full price for food and drink but the discounted room rate makes it a little sweeter.

Trail permits are expensive but so is maintaining the trails. I know we can't have $25 trail passes and expect the trails to be groomed every night. The pre-season pass of $300 I don't mind paying. We get our miles in and feel it is worth it. $190 for a week is expensive. For someone coming up for a short trip, it seems like a lot of money. Can someone trade in a week pass for a season pass? I don't know, it just popped into my head.

I hear comments on the language barrier. We don't run into it. I don't think it really exists much anymore. All of the bigger establishments have bi-lingual workers. Maybe advertise this also.

Would trail pass discounts to families with multiple sleds help? Would it be hard to keep people from cheating?

I heard that the FCMQ was considering closing some trails to save money for next year. I think that would be a bad move. I would rather see the existing trails skip a grooming once in a while than to close trails. Too many trails have been lost already and willingly giving up more trails I think is a step in the wrong direction.

Quebec should advertise what they excel in - a trail system that is superb. That is why we snowmobile.

Jack & Sandi

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Lots of really good responses and cost, thefts then border crossings are leading the way. One of the mentions is how disproportionally lodging went up in Quebec as the exchange rate evened out. I think that cost really put things over the top. We all know fuel is more, every where, and that has led to more grooming expense so higher trail passes, everyone gets that. But lodging really went up, like 250%, more than the exchange rate by far, for me that it what really changed the game. I am nearly 60 and have been riding Quebec since 1988 so have seen a lot of changes, but what has not changed is the product, still the best, incomparable, but a week on the trail saddle packing is 2500 on the stingy side for a round trip deal from Massachusetts, per sled. Anyone good with math can see for a family of 4 with 4 sleds this is real money by anyones standard. My real concern for the future is how do we get young people involved to keep this thing going, ultimately that will be the problem, cutting costs or dicounting product when things are tight is usually what they call a going out of business sale. Marketing has to be the first step and we need help from the manufactures too. Everyone needs to be involved in this effort, and I know once you get your feet wet in Quebec you always want more. Outside the sport public perception has probably hurt more than anything so it is our job to fix that.I once convinced my Jewish friend from downtown Boston to go Pheasant hunting with me . His whole live growing up in NY and Boston he was taught nothing good about guns, or hunting, strictly prohibited by his family, and sinagouge. Off we went in late October with my lab and a couple of side x side shot guns into the amazing New England foliage. He had the time of his life and it became one of his passions. He was angry that this had been denied him for 45 years. You know that feeling the first time you were doing the outter Gaspe, same thing for him the first time he shot a pheasant against that fall foliage. Thats what we have going for us, a truly wonderful outdoor expierence that you always want more of, we can do it together!!

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I love the free weekend Idea although I have not had a chance to do it yet. If FCMQ could make it the free weekend of your choice that would spread out the wear and tear on the trail system while allowing greater participation. I bet many people would tack on a 3 day pass for a 5 day trip.

Back in the late 90's and early 2000's I used to come up about 3 times a year, and the budget was about $100.00 a day. Now it's once or twice a year and the budget is more like $250.00 a day. I don't think I'm spending less, just coming less.

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I would love the opportunity for seasonal sled storage since it's the only area I ride...

Hell for the right price I would buy a sled and leave it up there permanently..... Fly up and back in the car would make the opportunity for more trips a reality.

Just a thought

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What features do we find unique to Quebec, that keep us coming?

"The People" and attitude make the difference, for us.

What realities have reduced our numbers? If you know snowmobilers who have stopped snowmobiling Quebec, what were the reasons?

The reasons most given are costs that Quebec can not control: cost of toys, cost of travel, cost of women (Bribes to wives), etc... also a perceived language barrier.

This is keeping new and younger riders from coming QC.

What efforts could encourage more riders to choose Quebec as a destination?

Ads like: "Snowmobilers, we speak your Language!" and offer to roll trail passes into the next longer one. day into week into season, instead having to buy each outright.

Later

GutZ

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I will sum it up this way......I LOVE SNOWMOBILING IN LANAUDIERE, but my wife who is the more conservative spender of the two of us has picked up on how much trail permits have gone up. Back in the day during the 1.50 exchange rate and hotel tax refunds....she thought it was a good deal.....not so much anymore and I can't sell her on good trail riding as the only advantage to riding QC. :cray:


I will sum it up this way......I LOVE SNOWMOBILING IN LANAUDIERE, but my wife who is the more conservative spender of the two of us has picked up on how much trail permits have gone up. Back in the day during the 1.50 exchange rate and hotel tax refunds....she thought it was a good deal.....not so much anymore and I can't sell her on good trail riding as the only advantage to riding QC. :cray:

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From what I see it all comes down to the cost.

The cost to get there...truck ,trailer,passport,gas,registration,gear and last but not least the cost of a

new or fairly new sled that has at least a chance of not breaking down during a trip.Then the cost to actually ride,

eat and sleep.

It is not just tourist related.I've been riding up here since 1980.

Think back the last 10 or even more years over all your rides....How many 18-25 year olds native or tourist do you remember seeing

riding their own sled when you stop at a clubhouse,gas station,restaurant or hotel?

How many of you have kids that own and ride.their own sled that they paid for?

There is very little new blood coming in to our sport.

The younger locals if they can afford to do anything are riding atv/vtt taking day trips and staying back at their home at night.

My 2 cents

Think Snow!

Edited by NSHM

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Selfishly I hope the numbers go down again. There too many people riding in Quebec now! Just kidding...

Years ago we rarely made reservations. We looked at a map and just "wong it". Now it seems you need to call ahead and plan out your trip, which I'd rather not do because it pins you down. I enjoy the freedom of going wherever the best trail takes me.

The biggest complaint I hear from folks that don't go is that its too expensive. Perfect...it keeps the rif raf out. :) Going to Quebec in the late 90's when the exchange rate was $1.40 to $1 and my income was a lot less than it is now, it was so affordable. $50 for a room with dinner and breakfast, how could you not go. Gas was $0.87 per liter (which was expensive in that day). I realize you need the numbers to support this massive system but do you really want to see an influx of 200,000 new snowmobilers into Quebec? I'd just assume pay $700 for a season pass if it keeps the trails and business open. I'm surprised the numbers are low because I see more sleds than ever in Quebec. Most places seem packed on the weekends.

A couple of places we stayed at this year said the tour groups from France are way down this year because of the ecomomy over there. I'm sure that has a big impact on the bigger resorts that cater to that business.

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About the only direct cost that FCMQ could reduce, without any loss of revenue to them, would be the included insurance. If a copy of your insurance card was included with trail pass registration, whatever that cost is, would not be charged.

I know many of the friends that I used to go to Quebec to ride, have been riding family group riding-in the US. Way to expensive to take 4 sleds to Quebec multiple times. They have been still going the "free" week-end and riding Maine or Vermont the rest of their trips. As the kids drop out, or cover their own expenses, it may bring some of them back to Quebec, as part of the older group of riders from the US. Keeping an extended, well marked, well maintained traill system will still be key to keeping riders coming and wanting to come to Quebec. It is always a pleasant place to travel, with great people at so many different places along the way. Multiple sled pass discounts could help, same owner/same address, but maybe not enough.

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