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Harley Days returns to Wollongong

Harley Days 2016 - Wollongong, Australia.

The first Harley-Davidson rally open to riders of all bikes will return to Wollongong again this year after organisers considered the inaugural event in November 2016 a success.

The first Harley Days had about 10,000-plus people at the Stuart Park venue, in Wollongong, over the three days. Among the many attractions were demo bikes, escorted scenic rides, BMX stunt shows, trade stalls and free concerts by acts such as Hot Dub Time Machine, Ross Wilson and The Screamin’ Eagles.

The only complaints we have heard about the Wollongong rally was that camping accommodation was limited. However, there is camping available at nearby Corrimal Beach.

Harley-Davidson Australia has yet to officially confirm venues, dates, accommodation and entertainment highlights for the Wollongong event, but we suspect it will be in November.

Harley Days 2016 - Wollongong, Australia.
Early Sunday riser

HOG rally history

Harley took over the running of the Harley Owners Group a few years ago and continued to organise popular members-only rallies around the country.

However, in many other countries, these rallies have been opened up to riders of all bikes so Harley can reach out to new customers. So it was only a matter of time before Harley did the same in Australia. The last HOG-only event was the 24th annual rally in Tamworth in 2014.

The first open rally run by Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand was the Iron Run in Queenstown in 2015.

2015 Iron Run rally - Wollongong, Australia.
2015 Iron Run

It was a great success that was repeated last year on the North Island and returns to Queenstown in March.

Gaz says they already have 650 registrations and are aiming for 1000 registrations.

“A good turn-up is expected and there’s great riding to get to Queenstown,” he says.

Highlights include a display of the Harley Livewire electric bike and a show by the Screamin Eagles band on the Friday night Saint Patrick’s Day themed special event for HOG members.

Outreach needed

Harley’s core customers are ageing white males who are dying off.

Consequently their global retail sales dropped 1.6% in 2016, including a 3.9% drop in the US.

Those losses were offset by international sales growth of 2.3%. Australia almost doubled that with 5% growth to again top road bike sales.

To address the sales slump, Harley is reaching out to new riders, young people, women, Hispanics and Black African Americans.

Harley Days 2016 - Wollongong, Australia.
Olympian Caroline Buchanan with the Throttle Dolls at Harley Days

In the US, dealers trained more than 65,000 new riders through the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy last year. The company plans to increase that to 100,000 globally by the end of the decade.

Another important sales tool is open rallies such as Harley Days.

It is important for Harley to reach out to younger riders on smaller bikes such as their new Street 500 who don’t want to ride as far from capital cities as some HOG members with big Touring bikes.

Their outreach tactics seem to be paying off with sales to “outreach” customers higher than core customers for the past five years. They now represent 40% of all their sales.

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