Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Harley Rally Coming to Escanaba! Are We Maximizing Benefits?

Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders are donning their chaps and making their way to Escanaba to meet-up with fellow bike enthusiasts. July 22-24 motorcycle rally in Escanaba. The event is hosted between July 22nd-24th, 2021 by the Great Lakes Harley Owners Group. Activities include a parade to show off their spit shined chrome and a block bash to keep the good times rollin after boots hit pavement! While no one knows how many bikes and riders will visit Delta County but it is projected to be in the thousands.

Should Escanaba focus on large, small, medium or any specific event size to elevate its place as a vacation destination? One of the best ways to answer this question is to look for existing methods of creating an objective evaluation. 

To assess benefits/detractors we will want to use an evaluation tool that will help utilize a systematic process of evaluation that could help local leaders make decisions. According to the study, there are some factors we might use like 1.) economic impact, 2.) city size, and 3.) event size impact cost/revenue ratios (Agha, N., & Taks, M. (2015)

These three factors help us see what the revenue benefits when we take into consideration things like the size of the city and the size of the event. In general, small cities can handle small events and large cities can handle larger events.


-Spending by non-locals

-Increased spending by locals and business.

-Job creation

-Tax revenue


-Intangible benefits.


-Crowding out other visitors

-Crowding out locals.

-Crowding out local business.

-Leakage of money that could be spent here in other places. 


-Opportunity cost of locals

Event Resource Demand and Supply

What we find here is that there are costs and benefits of any large activity like the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Rally. We want to ensure we minimize negative impacts and maximize revenue generation. Applying the results of the study to Escanaba we find Optimal economic impact of any event occurs when locally supplied resources are equal to demanded event resources (equilibrium).

The two concepts the study uses are event resource demand (ERD) and city resource supply (CRS). From the chart below you can see there are pay offs between ERD and CRS when we move further from the resource demand/availability line (green). The goal would be to keep in equilibrium resource demands and the resource supply of the area for total maximum benefit to the community. 

You can see how event resource demand (ERD) and city resource supply (CRS) work together on an XY Chart. XY charts is common and can be used for things like a scatter chart. The only thing you need is two coordinates; one for X and one for Y.  

We may also learn that larger amounts of visitors mean there will be a larger resource pull the city must contend with. We can maximize our benefits by ensuring that we are maximizing local resources in supplying the needs of the rally. If we exceed our local capacities we could have a net negative economic impact of an event. Thus, we have to ensure we are prepared and local business engagement is maximized to make as many financial transactions as possible.  

Maximizing Economic Impact in Escanaba

Going forward we may also want to evaluate rally size and determine where our "sweat spot" size of events lay. Based on the resource allocation indicated in the study it makes sense to have as many small-medium benefits that can be adequately supported by local resources. Larger venues need additional planning to ensure our local resource (services, vendors, etc..) can meet resource demand and encourage visitors to spend locally (food, hotels, bars, retail, etc...) 

Larger events like a Harley-Davidson rally have great potential if we are able to draw together the necessary resources that ensure as much benefits are related locally as possible. From the XY Chart you will see that if you use too many resources you have less than optimal results while if you use too few you are not maximizing your growth potential. Research will give you a better idea of what range will lead to the best allocation of resources that in turn improves economic impact.

Coordination Leads to Success

One option that might be helpful here in maximizing event benefits is to coordinated with Delta County businesses to supply, manage, and handle as much of the event affairs as possible (i.e. food, cleaning, vendors, etc...). Drawing together as many businesses and coordinating them to maximize local resource use and revenue growth is helpful. Having a list of local businesses interested in servicing local events will provide for a more concise evaluation.

We might also look at the total capacity of these resources to determine the maximum size. For example, janitorial services will have maximum capacity in the say way as food venders, hotels, and even local law enforcement. Calculating how many resources are available and knowing the size and amount of events scheduled throughout the summer gives a pretty good indication of what the sweat spot is and how to maximize events without leaking past available local resources.

Collect Data for Better Understanding

To truly gain an understanding of what size events Escanaba (Delta County) should focus on attracting we will want to conduct some research into any documentation and available information on previous events and what resources and benefits were realized (historical research). If there are gaps we could reach out to the listed vendors and ask them about the impact of the events on their businesses. It is unlikely to be a perfect assessment as its post hoc and much of the information may not be available anymore, but knowing what is available is helpful to know what information we could focus on collecting in the future.

With proper coordination and planning it is possible to build the metrics that lead to an assessment of how the Harley-Davidson rally faired in terms of revenue and cost generation. We might use simple tools like meetings, surveys, taxes, etc... as well as gather information from actual visitors on how much they spent and where (total amounts per category). Assessment of revenues earned and expenses will help determine on an individual business basis the benefits of different size and amount of events. 

Follow up reviews of participating organizations leads to greater awareness of the needs of different types of venues and how we can serve them. Customer satisfaction of visiting the area doesn't leave just because the riders left. They carry with them positive or negative images of the area that will impact whether they decide to come back, share on social media or tell their friends about. There are few things better than having people come and experience the area. Knowing what our customers want will help us maximize events and event planning. 

With an impact and usage schedule we could also consider when events are being held and where we have excess capacity to draw in more events/activities. These resource draws could also include tourism, local events, etc... that all contribute to capacity. However, where we do have capacity we may want to find more events to fill slow periods during the season in a way that helps local businesses.

Should Escanaba Hold the Harley-Davidson Rally?

There isn't a good reason to not allow such rallies until will understand the cost-benefits of doing so. We do want to ensure we can adequately service the visitors for maximum customer satisfaction ranging from hotels to motorcycle mechanics. We may also want to check in with local services, vendors, law enforcement, etc... to ensure they also have the resource capacity. What might be beneficial is having a pubic meeting for any business or services that will be participating in the rally to coordinate their efforts. A successful Harley-Davidson rally means we maximized benefits such as income and taxes for local businesses in a way that enhances rally participant experiences. 

Until we really know our capacities I say "thumbs up" on Harley-Davidson rally. 

Local Contacts

If you are interested in setting up events in Delta County or want to know more about investment and business opportunities for small and large businesses you can contact Chamber of Commerce director Vickie Micheau.

Agha, N., & Taks, M. (2015). A theoretical comparison of the economic impact of large and small events. International Journal of Sport Finance, 10(3), 199.

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