A successful Harley Days event in Wollongong over the weekend has prompted Harley-Davidson Australia to declare they would like to return to the coastal city for a third year.
Marketing director Adam Wright says they attracted more than 10,000 people over the three days of the second annual event, even though HOG (Harley Owners Group) member attendance was halved to about 800.
He says Harley Days is an “outreach” cultural event that is designed to attract other riders to see what the brand is about.
“Reaching out to a broader Harley audience is working well,” he says. “It was a fantastic weekend.”
Even though HOG attendance was down, he says Harley-Davidson Australia has been “putting more money and resources into the state rallies which have been over-subscribed”.
“They are all supporting their state rallies which is good, so HOG numbers were down for the national event,” he says.
The last closed national HOG Rally was in Tamworth in 2015 which set a pre-registration record of 2070 with more than 700 walk-in registrations.
However, Harley hasn’t become the top-selling road bike brand in the country and the Breakout the top-selling bike in the market by standing still.
Harley’s marketing is aimed at bringing in new customers, rather than just preaching to the converted.
“We’re seeing more general public and Harley riders in general coming to the event,” Adam says.
“ But we also love HOG members being there and showing off what HOG is all about. They are an integral part of it as well.”
2018 Harley Days
Plans for a 2018 event are expected to be announced soon.
“As for next year, we first have to talk to Wollongong Council, the police, the Chamber of Commerce and Destination NSW to make sure they are happy with the event,” he says.
“We’ll make a decision shortly,” he says.
“It’s not definite yet, but our heart is in the event. We just want to make sure everyone is happy.
“We love the venue and the location. We’d love to do it again because we think it is a very successful event.
“In Europe, it took a number of years to build up Harley Days.
“But 10,000 attendance each year; I would consider that a success.”
Adam says feedback from the event has been “top notch”.
“No complaints, more food vendors, more activities, a biker build-off and the HOG games returned which was really good. They had a lot of crowd participation,” he says.
NSW South Coast HOG director Ken McDonald (Poppa Bear) says the event was “fantastic’’.
‘’The weather has been good, Wollongong has been good. The organisation of it has been fantastic,” he says.
HOG Sydney Chapter spokesman Mark Hurt agrees the event was successful and says the organisers “got it right this time”.
“I can only speak for myself but I think many people felt last year was a poor event and made worse by the weather,” he says.
“Our attending Sydney Chapter members decided to give it one more go on the promise that HD had listened and fixed things.
“Luckily for the event, it was much better and the weather was kind which helped.
“The Thunder Run was well organised and worked much better too.
“If HD’s thinking is to try to create an Australian ‘Sturgis’ rather than have a national rally at different locations, they went closer to that goal this time but still have a way to go.”
Brisbane HOG Chapter director Norm Bentley, who attended early for pre-event officer training says HDA made “big efforts to improve on last year”.
“The entertainment was better, a lot more vendors but very disappointing that they only had half as many HOG members turn up,” he says.
He says he understand it is an outreach event that needs to be within reach of Sydney.
However, he suggests other locations such as Tamworth which was a national rally “highlight” and Mt Panorama where the 2011 national rally was held.