October 19, 2006
Daytona’s Biketoberfest kick-starts Brevard’s tourist season
Visitors stay, play and pay on Space Coast
BY DONNA BALANCIA
Tim Buffaloe, owner of Beach Sportcycles motorcycle shop in Cocoa, looks forward to Biketoberfest every year.
“With the cooler weather and motorcycles on TV and in the news, Biketoberfest boosts my business by about 10 to 15 percent,” he said. “The event gets people excited, and they really want to ride.”
Biketoberfest — which officially launches today and runs through Sunday in Daytona Beach — draws bikers from all over the East Coast and beyond to the Space Coast.
And today’s bikers — riders of Harley-Davidsons, Triumphs, Indians and an assortment of other famous brands — spend money to have a good time.
“The bikers of today tend to be big spenders, and they are willing to pay for a good experience,” said Rob Varley, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism. “They’ll come through Brevard County, spend the night, and really enjoy themselves. Today’s bikers aren’t Hell’s Angels.”
Diane Hall, who, with her husband, Scott, owns Corrupted Concepts, a custom motorcycle business in Melbourne, said her patrons look forward to Biketoberfest because it’s a chance to hang out with other bikers.
“Our customers cover a wide range,” Diane Hall said. “We started when Scott broke down his own stock motorcycle. People saw what he can do, and they started coming to our house, asking him to create custom bikes and hot rods. We opened this business in 1999, and ever since then, people have come in here to hang out with us. It’s like a family in here. Our customers really run a wide range. We have professionals, entrepreneurs, and one guy is a drummer for a rock band.”
Hall said her Corrupted Concepts customers have all become friends, and Biketoberfest is like a holiday.
“Usually, pretty much almost all of our customers hang out here, and then we’ll all ride to the shows together,” she said.
“And, sometimes, like during Biketoberfest or Bike Week, sometimes people get stranded, and they need help,” she said. “They’ll need a jump, a battery or clutch cable. We want to help them get back on the road. But all these people have one thing in common: They like their bike like it’s their baby.”
For Brevard County’s tourism market, Biketoberfest helps boost what otherwise is a relatively slow month.
“Biketoberfest kicks off the winter season,” Varley said.
“Traditionally, September and October are slow, and this event helps make October a busier month for us,” he said. “Biketoberfest’s expanded over the years, and the growth has benefited us, especially in north and central Brevard.”
“Biketoberfest was created particularly because October is slow,” said Lori Campbell Baker, director of communications for the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The bureau “partnered with the local entities that promote biking. We tapped a niche area with Bike Week (in March). We did the same with Biketoberfest.
“The weather is mild, and Biketoberfest is centered around the fall cycle scene right at the Daytona International Speedway,” she said. “What we’ve seen is it’s not just a Daytona Beach thing any more. Bikers love to travel.”
Shay Baranowski, general manager of the Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Resort in Cocoa Beach, said she sees increases in certain areas when bikers come to town.
“Our beverage revenue always climbs at least 5 percent when the Biketoberfest people come here,” she said. “They’re going to come in and have cocktails. We open the pool to them, and, generally, people have a good time. The bikers bring a great spirit. They’re lovable. And they know how to tip.”
Brevard restaurants and bars also benefit during the week.
“During Biketoberfest, we’ll get a 20 percent increase” in business, said Jim Kellison, owner of Our Place Saloon in Titusville. “It’s a nice neighborhood, and we have a nice clientele. It’s called ‘Our Place’ because people know each other. It’s an enjoyable atmosphere, and the beer’s cheap.”