City, state spend $150,000 to market Sturgis Rally Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Even an event like the Sturgis rally that draws several hundred thousand people may benefit from some state help in marketing.

The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally started on Friday and continues through Aug. 15. The annual event drew about 445,000 attendees last year and 490,000 in 2019, according to the city of Sturgis.

Since March 1, the South Dakota Department of Tourism has been marketing the motorcycle rally in cooperation with the city of Sturgis, said Katlyn Svendsen, the global media and public relations director for the department.

Svendsen said the state expected the 2021 co-op campaign to deliver about 21.5 million impressions in electronic options such as social media. Think of impressions as electronically reading information about the motorcycle rally. As of July 21, the campaign had exceeded estimates by more than 10 million impressions.

The cooperative effort means the state pays a portion of the cost and the city of Sturgis pays a portion.

Svendsen said in the overall cooperative campaign, the tourism department contributes $100,000 and the city of Sturgis contributes about $100,000. Of that $200,000, $150,000 is dedicated to the promotion of the rally. The remaining $50,000 is for leisure and non-rally events, she said.

Daniel Ainslie, the Sturgis city manager, said the city provides $85,00 to the state for Sturgis Rally promotions.

The city provides $25,000 toward non-rally advertising for Sturgis, he said.

While the city spends $85,000 to market rally and non-rally events, it also made $997,000 on the rally in 2020, according to city data.

Also, the rally generated $159,425 in South Dakota Department of Tourism Tax in 2020.

The tourism tax is a 1.5% tax applied to items such as hotels, campgrounds, recreational equipment rentals and similar.

Another $479,751 in state sales tax was collected from temporary vendors in Sturgis during the rally in 2020, according to the city of Sturgis.

The city and state cooperative campaign is in its fifth year, Svendsen said.

The marketing campaign is divided into two main parts of a national and regional campaigns, Svendsen said.

“Our high travel-intent channels of paid search and retargeting efforts will be ran on a national level while our inspiration channels like rich media, display, native article and social will be targeted more regionally,” Svendsen said.

High Intent channels would be tactics that drive action like booking or downloading a guide, Svendsen said. For the rally, those tactics would be paid search, display, display retargeting, social retargeting.

Inspiration channels or engaging channels encourage the user to learn more. For Sturgis, this would be Rich Media Interactive Unit, Native Article highlighting different rides visitors can take and social.

The regional focus is the states of Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, she said. Those are states with many rally attendees as well as general visitors to South Dakota.

“We’ve already seen 36.9 million impressions to date (exceeding the estimated) and additionally, more than 561,150 searches for flights and hotels and an estimated 21,031 bookings to date,” Svendsen said on July 21.

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