Sail Superior has changed the idea of boat tours from a passive activity to a complete on the water event. It’s no longer just a sightseeing trip. By combining sailing with education and adventure it has become a total experience - an experience that can grow from the simple appreciation for the region and lake to a lifestyle that encompasses the beauty of the water and its surroundings. Many of our 90 min tour guests return for day adventures to the islands or to take sailing instruction. New sailors will then bareboat from us, or purchase their own boats. Sail Superior creates a recurring and scalable activity that benefits not only itself but many local businesses and partners.
Originally Thunder Bay had short harbor tours throughout the 80s and up to 2007, they used larger diesel cruisers. Sail Superior went with wind power, diversified and added new experiences. Start up costs were similar but operational costs less. We could sail with as little as two passengers at a time, slowly building awareness and adding more tours as needed. We grew from hundreds per year to thousands of visits per season. We filled a niche and developed the niche into a mainstream attraction. Partnerships were then built, the City of Thunder Bay’s summer camp for youth, The Cheese Encounter for wine and Cheese tours. Hotels were visited and partnership coupons added for guests. We cooperated with local guides for Land and Sea tours, Ontario Parks for Hike and Sail tours to the Sleeping Giant, Lighthouses of Lake Superior for overnights on remote islands. We also grew a bareboat fleet allowing qualified skippers to self captain. Requests from our tour guest to teach them how to sail led us to add a sailing school providing and day courses or week-long sail and learn holidays. The impact has been that it has never been easier to get out and enjoy the Lake, there is truly something for everyone at our facility. From a business standpoint our diversification has insulated us from a slowdown in anyone of our visitor streams. Diversification helped us create our own market by always providing more and different experiences for our loyal clients to enjoy.
During the summer we are focused on the delivery of these products, in the off season we asses the last season and plan for the next, preparing new tours building, pricing, closing the financial data and doing analysis.