OFSC Q & A: Early Snow and Permit Sales Bode Well for Season Ahead!

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Editor's Note: Craig Nicholson is a seasoned snowmobiler, writer and communications consultant, who among other things is the OFSC's Director of Communications. Below, we caught up with him on the eve of this year's snowmobile season.


How are things looking for snowmobile season?

The season has received an unprecedented kick-start by setting a new trail permit sales record, just as snow has already started to fall in many parts of Ontario. This year for the first time, we launched a pre-November 1st permit promotion, offering snowmobilers an opportunity to save money by buying a trail permit online. Tens of thousands of Ontarians responded enthusiastically, racking up pre-season sales numbers of over 41,000 seasonal and classic trail permits. This is the largest and earliest sales total in OFSC history.

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What is the significance of over 41,000 pre-season permit sales?

This is the first time that we've used Nov 1st, almost as a pre-pre-season date for an online promotion. Usually, early sales happen before December 1st and generally, depending on the year, more than 40 percent of total sales for any given winter happen during the pre-season period before December 1st. In the past, we've never sold more than like, 5,000 before the beginning of November. A big part of that was the online focus. This is our third year of online sales, and it's been growing every year.

Why are online sales a good thing for the snowmobiling community?

With online sales, there's no lag time between the time the permits are sold and when the dollars are distributed. This way, we know that we've got secure funding, which is important because this is the time of year that clubs need money to get trails operating and getting everything up and running.

For example, one immediate thing that happened: the OFSC has a groomer funding program. Obviously, the OFSC can't distribute the dollars for that fund until the funds are in the account. Because so many people bought online, last week we gave the go ahead for four new groomers to be ordered. What that means is, those 4 new groomers will be on the snow this winter. Overall, it means that clubs can plan and budget better, and have a better sense of what they're going to be capable of this winter. It's much less of a crapshoot than in past years.

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What is the best thing about snowmobiling in Ontario?

Really, the best thing is that it's an organized system. We have guidelines that the trails meet. The trails are marked, well-maintained, mapped and reliable. And the other thing is, Ontario is so big that no matter what the winter's like… even in the worst winters, you can always find snow in Ontario. We've also got lots of operators open during the winter, we have the interactive trail guide… there's a lot of pluses in terms of how easy it is to ride here.

One of the reasons that we introduced the OFSC-promoted tour loops is to help people travel across the province. We're saying to people, get outside the box and challenge your comfort zone. At the same time, there's still a certain comfort level within those loops in the sense of defined routes, gas and accommodations… the services are there, so you don't have to worry.

Do you think we're in for a great snowmobile season ahead?

Certainly judging by the weather right now anywhere north of Toronto… right now, part of the 400 is closed because of snow. That's good news. This is the first time in a couple years that we've had significant lake-effect snow from Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, which is always a good indicator for the season ahead. That lake-effect is a huge snow generator. Three years ago it was, but the last two years not as much. This week is a good sign. Whatever Mother Nature is doing, it's working this year. Certainly the early signs are that we can expect a good season this year.


Nov. 12, 2013

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   Pre-season permit sales are still available until December 1st!

   Click here for more information.

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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