SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — About $1 per attendee was spent in marketing the 2022 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to the estimated 505,000 attendees this year.
Sturgis city manager Daniel Ainslie said the city spent more than $500,000 this year to market the annual rally.
“It’s a large, significant, endeavor to market this event which brings a half million people to our state,” Ainslie said.
“…the issue is, that largely rests on the backs of a city of 7,000 people,” Ainslie said.
The city of Sturgis can’t do it alone, Ainslie said. It’s actively seeking more marketing help from chambers of commerce and similar entities in the region and the state.
“We know that marketing is tremendously important for this event which in turn is important for the entire state and the region, but we do need more partnerships with that to assist,” Ainslie said.
The state makes an important contribution through the South Dakota Department of Tourism which provided $80,000 to match some of the city’s digital marketing, Ainslie said.
But this year, Sturgis had a team from Texas A&M University complete an economic study on the event.
Ainslie said the study provides the needed to data to help people understand the local, regional and statewide impact of the motorcycle rally and why more partnerships are important.
“The overall economic impact from this year’s rally more 1% of the state’s GDP from a 10-day event in a city of 7,000 people is phenomenal,” Ainslie said. “I think it goes to show that this really is a cornerstone of tourism in the state and also is a really important way that our state (brings) people to our state.”
Since 2018, tourism has accounted for at least 5% of the state’s economy or GDP, according to the S.D. Department of Tourism.
The money spent on marketing the Sturgis Rally is showing a good return on investment, according to the Texas A&M study.
The Texas A&M study cited the state’s GDP as $61.206 billion in 2021. The total rally economic output of $801.2 million would be 1.3% of the state’s GDP, according to the A&M study.
When attendees come for the rally, they spend money in Sturgis but also in other areas of the state.
The 2022 rally’s direct economic impact to the state was $467,274,400, according to the study.
Attendees spent an average of $798 in the Sturgis area and $558 outside the Sturgis area for the length of their stay.
The out-of-state attendee spent about $843 per person in Sturgis and $599 per person in other regions. The spending numbers are skewed some this year because the bulk of attendees came from South Dakota or within a few hundred miles. Ainslie said state residents and those from nearby states such as Minnesota, Iowa or Wisconsin tend to spend less than attendees from California or east coast states.
The rally is advertised in a variety of ways. Survey respondents were asked to check as many as listed categories that applied to how they learned of the event. More than half of the surveyed rally attendees (57%) said they learned about the event through word of mouth. Forty-one percent learned through the rally website and 34% learned from the rally Facebook page. Another 8% learned through the state tourism options or the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce. A total of 9% learned through the rally’s Twitter page or an email blast.
Not only does the Sturgis Rally bring people to South Dakota, but it also brings them back, Ainslie said.
The study said the average attendee in 2022 has been to at least nine other rallies.
And some, return to the Sturgis area for good Ainslie said.
Ainslie didn’t cite data specific to those who move to the state because of their rally experience but he knows it happens. A rallygoer may come one, two or three times and decide that the state is friendly, it’s safe and it’s a good place to retire or to raise a family or operate a business, he said.
“The success of the event isn’t just important to Sturgis, it’s important to the Black Hills region and indeed to the entire state,” Ainslie said.