IMPLEMENTATION of the marketing plan for the Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT) will begin shortly, starting with the construction and placement of new signage and infrastructure as outlined in the plan.
Gone is the tagline ‘not just a walk in the park’.
Key words to describe the new branding include: authentic, natural, peaceful, green, scenic, friendly.
The marketing material will urge people to ‘retrace Australia’s most southern mainland rail line through lush green farmland and temperate rainforest, with blue water views to the peaks of the Prom’. There’ll be mention of ‘linking South Gippsland’s villages of food, wine, art and artisans’ and the option to ‘walk, cycle, ride all the 70 kms, or enjoy its shorter journeys’.
It was a key requirement of the government grant made available to extend the trail from Foster to Welshpool to develop a marketing plan for the whole of the trail. South Gippsland Shire Council formed a project control group to oversee the Foster to Welshpool extension and a subcommittee to oversee the development of a marketing plan. This subcommittee includes representatives from the GSRT Committee of Management, Regional Development Victoria (the funding body), and Council’s Community Strengthening and Strategic Planning and Development departments.
In May last year Council appointed experiential marketing and design consultants Heine Jones to develop the marketing plan, and this work was completed in November.
As Steve Jones from Heine Jones explained in a presentation of the marketing plan to Council last Wednesday, a series of community forums were held during the development of the plan. Extensive online surveying of user groups and the broader community was undertaken, and state-wide rail trail and cycling networks contributed ideas and knowledge, as did local tourism and recreational groups. In addition, the Heine Jones directors cycled the entire trail for themselves.
The GSRT committee has endorsed the plan and adopted the new branding.
Council staff will coordinate the implementation of the plan in partnership with the GSRT committee during 2015.
Among the key points to be marketed will be the rail trail’s ‘clean, green’ image, its scenic beauty and appeal to eco-tourists, its proximity to Melbourne and to Wilsons Promontory (which has national and international significance), and the many opportunities provided by its sections of varying lengths – for everyone from recreational cyclists, riders or walkers to serious cyclists. Enjoying the trail on foot or on a bicycle will also be promoted to seaside holidaymakers looking for something to do when it’s not beach weather.
Word-of-mouth is enormously important amongst the cycling fraternity, said Steve Jones, so the trail needs to be presented at its best – with good quality seating and toilet facilities – and differentiated from the many other trails across Victoria. He suggested incorporating sculptures in the less scenic sections of the trail.
A new logo has been designed, with a colour palette of greens, blues and browns to tie in with the South Gippsland landscape and referencing the curves of bicycle and train wheels. This will be used on all the marketing material, which will be extensive. A new GSRT website will be developed, along with a suite of promotional material – from maps marking gradients to signage promoting the attractions of the various ‘villages’ along the way.
The launch of the marketing campaign for the newly rebranded rail trail is expected to coincide with the completion of the Black Spur section, which will see the rail trail running uninterrupted from Leongatha to Port Welshpool.