Africa Bike Week: Bench-mark for Best Practice in events?

So I managed to spread the good word about Responsible Tourism inMargatethanks to Harley Davidson and Ugu South Coast Tourism – the people behind the continent’s biggest gathering of motor bikers: Africa Bike Week, which took place from 26 to 30 April.

The first reason I was there was to deliver a presentation on Responsible Tourism (which you can see or download here) at the event’s official business breakfast.

And yes, there’s much about Harley Davidson that fits with the ethos of Responsible Tourism. I spoke after Harley’s country manager forAfrica, Celine Gruizinga, and the similarities in what we had to say were striking. (Celine is a brilliant speaker – especially considering that she’s Dutch, and English isn’t her first language – so I was nervous as hell when my turn came. To paraphrase Robert Frost: The brain is a wonderful organ – it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you step up to the microphone.)

Just like Responsible Tourism, Harley cares. It’s about having fun, and about building relationships between people – and it works hard at achieving these things.

And this shines through at Africa Bike Week.

The whole ofMargatewas transformed into Harley Town for the duration. There was bunting, there were flags, there were banners – and there were Bike-only roads. Even the Margate Hotel was re-branded as the Harley Hotel – and the whole of the coastal road (Panorama Parade), from the pier to the Lagoon, was lined with tents – Harley dealerships, aftermarket products, food (including a sushi bar that was always packed),generaltraders, and two massive stages which featured 16 live bands.

Panorama Parade was a constant – um – parade of bikes going southwards, and people going everywhere. And there were thousands of bikes, too – literally thousands. Two amazing things? No two Harleys looked the same. And all bikers were welcome, no matter what you rode – so I saw everything from 50 cc scooters to big mothers that cost almost a million (true story: look at the orange one in my photo album on Facebook. Oh, and Harley Davidson Africa’s on Facebook too – here).

Perhaps the most impressive event atAfricaBike Week (there were so many) was the Mass Ride – 2,670 bikes took part, and it took half an hour just to get them all through the start arch.

But wait: there was something equally impressive – the buy-in from the politicians and the locals. You just knew they loved the whole thing when you saw how smoothly everything ran (although make no mistake: organiser Vicky Wentzel and her team at Wozani Africa Events didn’t seem to sit down for a second).

This was a massive collaboration – which is why I believe the event is a fine example of best practice in action.

And the results have proved why Africa Bike Week was worth doing – for everyone. Just a few statistics: according to South Coast Tourism’s Michael Bertram, 25,000 bikers took part; 280 people took official Harley Davidson test rides at Africa Bike Week 2011 – and this year the number climbed to 338; and “the figures from the toll booths (on the N2 leading into and out of Margate) were 100% up on the same period last year.”   

Turnover at the Keg ‘n Galleon in the Margate – sorry – Harley Hotel was 30% up; and, in terms of sheer numbers, the mass rally was 20% bigger than last year.

This, of course, can only lead to bigger things.

“Harley Davidson will be celebrating its 110th birthday in 2013, and they’re already talking of a much bigger footprint – especially around the stage and food areas,” said Michael.

Above all, though, I did what Harley wanted everyone to do: I enjoyed myself.

Tourism’s good friend, BnB Sure’s Dave Jack, has always ripped me off about my disdain for Harleys (it’s the noise, you see: I always hated the noise – although I’m over that now).

So, since he couldn’t get down toMargatethis year, I had to SMS him.

“Help,” I said. “This is fun!”

His reply?

One word: “Ingesluk.”

And indeed I am.

This Tourism Week at Indaba 2012

Are you registered on Slideshare? You ought to be: it’s one of the finest resources you’ll find for learning about everything – and especially about Tourism.

It’s just amazing how many people around the world are prepared to share their information with you – for free.

One of the best features on Slideshare is the Zipcast – which allows you to share your PowerPoint presentations through on-line broadcasting.

And I’ve decided that I’ll be doing a Zipcast on Tuesday the 15th – live from the Indaba. So you’ll be getting the news hot off the press if you can’t be at the show.

I’ll be looking out to see how far we’ve come with Responsible Tourism since last year’s Responsible Tourism in Cities Conference. And I’m planning to give you all the news and ALL the skinner.

It should be fun!


1. Sign up for a free Slideshare account at

2. Go to onTuesday, May 15, 2012 at4:00 p.m. South African time (GMT +2:00). You’ll be able to see the slides (and me), and hear me speak – and you’ll also be able to ask questions via the site’s text messaging service. Allow about ½ an hour of your time.

Naturally, of course, you’ll also be receiving daily e-mails from me about what’s happening at Indaba in general- and they’ll also be uploaded to


Remember that the #hashtag for Indaba 2012 is – um – #indaba2012.

Here’s a fun idea: watch how Indaba 2012 is doing against New Zealand’s TRENZ 2012 tourism trade show (Queenstown, 7 to 10 May – hashtag #trenz2012) – by watching their Hashtag Battle here.

Now go away on holiday – it’s in the economy’s best interests.

… And in the meantime… have a GREAT tourism week!

Martin Hatchuel – BarefootWriter

Want To Advertise to more than 10,000 names in the Tourism Industry? Want to tap into the power of internet marketing? Want to speak to my audience? Mail me – – and let’s see how This Tourism Week can work for you.

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BarefootClients provides communications services (copy writing, advertising, printing and that kind of stuff) as well as strategy planning and creative thought for select clients who share our Barefoot On The Beach approach to business.

It’s simple. We believe that successful marketing creates relationships – friendships – between businesses and their customers. Our job is to help you develop these friendships with your clients: to make them so

comfortable with you that they’ll happily walk Barefoot On The Beach with you … Because business works best between friends. That’s the BarefootBenefit.

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About This Tourism Week

This Tourism Week – a free service brought to you by – is a personal e-letter and informed commentary on issues affecting South Africa’s tourism industry. Please note that the articles in This Tourism Week may only be reproduced with permission (want it? Mail me –

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