Tourism partnership discusses HOG Rally


First Posted: 4/7/2009

ELKIN As the 2009 North Carolina Harley Owners Group Rally nears, the Tourism Partnership of Surry County sorted through details for how it plans to market the motorcycle event yesterday.
On the weekend of Aug. 20-22, Mount Airy and the surrounding area will welcome around 2,000 bikers for the Harley Davidson motorcycle owners group.
HOG is a motorcycle group that was formed 25 years ago as a way for the Harley-Davidson Company to keep in touch with its customers. Each year, there are statewide rallies held typically from Thursday to Saturday.
Mount Airy is selected to host the event, and Surry Countys other municipalities, Pilot Mountain, Elkin and Dobson, will be hosting additional events and festivities through the four day stay. Some events in Mount Airy will start on Wednesday, Aug.19.
The Tourism Partnership represents each municipality and the county, and said it plans to coordinate the events of each area for a master calendar of events.
Jean Collins, the local coordinator of the HOG Rally event, presented the board some information to help with its marketing process.
She recommended not keeping the events specifically open to registered participants to help generate revenue for the local economy, and said that some prices for events will be lower for registries as part of the perks for the HOG members.
The rally site behind the fence at Veterans Memorial Park will be exclusive to registered participants, she said. Some events will be free or price reduced for those with registration status.
In order to register to participate in the HOG Ralley, which includes access to the rally site at Veterans Memorial Park and riding in the parade, you have to be a HOG member or an associate of a HOG member, she said.
She added that locals and others who are interested in pre-registration can still become HOG members online through July 2. The pre-registration fee is $30. Registration on site will be about $50.
Jessica Icenhour, the vice chair of the Tourism Partnership, said she was glad that some of the events were open to the general public as well as the registries because it encourages people to take advantage of staycations. Staycations are vacations where people stay in their home area enjoy events and venues locally.
We can tell people you should stay here this weekend, weve got this going on, she said. People can ditch the beach.
Those hosting events cannot replicate the Harley Davidson trademark logo in event or merchandise advertisements, Collins said. Also, the image of a motorcyclist driving past Pilot Knob featured on the registration flyers, which will also be sold on merchandise at the Rally site, can only be used by Harley Davidson. Once the 2009 NC HOG Rally ends, the image will not be used elsewhere by Harley Davidson, she added.
There will be a pre-registration party as a last ditch effort to encourage locals to pre-registered on June 28 at 11 a.m. at Goobers 52 restaurant on Hwy. 52.
So far, Collins said there are about 1,500 participants from 16 different states registered to attend. In the past, the event has drawn more than 2,500 participants.
Valerie Oberle, the chair of the Tourism Partnership, said she wanted the board to work towards developing a marketing strategy to promote the HOG Rally, and put all the municipalities on the same page with such a plan.
Also on the agenda, the board continued discussing its plan for a hospitality training road show for area businesses. The idea of the program is to educate local employees and businesses on providing hospitality that would encourage visitors to return on other occasions to the area.
Oberle said it would focus on country polite, which she coined as a southern brand of gracious hospitality.
We have wonderful people that are country polite, she said. We need to create service standards that are Very Surry.
She said that basic standards taught would show employees and businesses how to incorporate a southern brand hospitality into how they treat customers so that they can experience the friendliness the areas is known for.
At its next meeting April 30 at 10 a.m. in Pilot Mountain, the board will see a presentation work on developing the areas top 10 assets, or southern pleasures to feature in the Very Surry campaign. The campaign, which features bold single iconic images which are distinctively Surry County such as camping, music, festivals and wineries, was announced last month.
The board hired MadCat, a Clemmons-based marketing company, last year for $25,000 to develop the campaign.
Theyve more than delivered what weve asked, Oberle said. Its time to make decisions and get moving on advertising. The next step is an execution of a marketing plan.
She said the board will eventually have to decide if it wants to hire MadCat or another company to execute the plan or do so themselves with or without the help of a company.
MadCat will unveil its Very Surry campaign to the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority today at 2 p.m. in City Hall.
The Tourism Partnerships next regular meeting is May 5 at 5 p.m. in Dobson.
For more information or to register visit www.ncstatehogrally.com.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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