From the Daytona Beach News Journal
If you’ve noticed Biketoberfest crowds seem to be smaller than they were a decade ago, you’re not alone.
The events’ organizers — the Halifax Area Advertising Authority for Biketoberfest and the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce for Bike Week — have for years claimed these attendance figures. However, because the events aren’t ticketed or gated, exact attendance figures aren’t available. Jeffrey Hentz, the ad authority’s executive director, and members of the business community believe that bike event attendance now isn’t what it was a decade ago.
Tourism officials who put on the yearly motorcycle rally — the second of the area’s two signature annual bike events — say that a shaky economy, new competition and changing demographics have chipped away at the event’s attendance.
For the past year, organizers have been mulling ways to revitalize Biketoberfest — the key tourism event in the otherwise slow fall and winter travel seasons — and get the 21-year-old event, which begins Thursday, growing again.
“We’ve seen the drop-off for years,” said Jeffrey Hentz, executive director of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority, which owns the Biketoberfest trademark. “We need to find out if more marketing would bring (bikers) back, or if it’s because of aging (motorcycle enthusiasts) and that’s the way the market is going.”
The ad authority has altered its plans for the promoting event, relying more on social media and one-to-one direct marketing, and has increased the amount it intends to spend on advertising for next year’s Biketoberfest.
The area’s largest motorcycle rally, Bike Week, is also suffering sagging attendance, Hentz said.
Because the rallies aren’t ticketed and visitors can come and go as they please, exact Biketoberfest and Bike Week attendance figures aren’t available. Event organizers have for years pegged Biketoberfest’s attendance at 100,000 people and Bike Week’s at 500,000, though many question whether those numbers are accurate.