Du­cati vrooms, eyes well-heeled bik­ers


There are fewthingsLaura Wu likes more than to take her Du­cati 899 Pani­gale for a spin on the coun­try roads out­side Bei­jing. With five other high-per­for­mance mo­tor­cy­cles in her garage, the 35-year-old rep­re­sents to­day’s Chi­nese biker who man­u­fac­tur­ers are clam­or­ing to please.

With China’s mo­tor­cy­cle mar­ket in de­cline, mak­ers of su­per­bikes, in­clud­ing Du­cati Mo­torHold­ing SpA andHar­ley-David­son Inc, are adding lighter, sleeker and less pow­er­ful mod­els to their of­fer­ing, try­ing to ap­peal to well­heeled novice rid­ers and, es­pe­cially, women.

The strat­egy seems to be work­ing. Mo­tor­cy­cle sales in China al­most dou­bled for Du­cati and surged 74 per­cent for BMW AG in the first half from a year ear­lier, de­fy­ing a 15 per­cent slide in all new bike sales, ac­cord­ing to the China As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers. The coun­try is poised to be­come the sec­ond-big­gest for Du­cati in three years.

“We used to as­sume mo­tor­cy­cles are toys ei­ther for mid­dle-aged paunchy men or for young street hood­ies,” saidWu, who of­ten zips around Bei­jing on a Vespa scooter for her daily com­mute to work as an an­gel in­vestor. “Rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle can also be a sym­bol of the in­de­pen­dence of women.”

Du­cati, founded in the Ital­ian city of Bologna 90 years ago and now owned by Ger­many’s Volk­swa­gen AG, was keep­ing women and first-time mo­tor­cy­clists in mind when it in­tro­duced in China the Scram­bler Sixty2, which has a 399-cu­bic-cen­time­ter en­gine, and the 1,198cc Mul­tistrada 1200 S this year, Marco Elli, head of Du­cati China, said in an in­ter­view.

Du­cati is bring­ing more of its mod­els to China as bik­ing gains pop­u­lar­ity as a form of recre­ation. The gov­ern­ment last month said it will ex­empt for­eign mo­tor­cy­cle mak­ers from own­er­ship lim­its in their man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions. While more than

We un­der­stand the mo­tor­cy­cle cul­ture here is grow­ing.” China

Marco Elli,

head of Du­cati

170 cities in the Asian na­tion have banned or re­stricted mo­tor­cy­cles, some smaller cities, such as Zhuhai and Lang­fang, have been eas­ing reg­u­la­tions since 2013.

Du­cati sold al­most 1,000 units in the first five months of 2016, spurred by de­mand for Mon­ster, Di­avel and Scram­bler mod­els, Elli said, adding that he ex­pects China to sur­pass Thai­land this year to be­come Du­cati’s big­gest mar­ket in Asia, ex­clud­ing Ja­pan.

The Scram­bler will be priced at 83,800 yuan ($12,600) and tar­get young rid­ers, while its high­est-end su­per­bike that sells for as much as 489,000 yuan will be aimed at mid­dle-aged bik­ers with higher in­comes, he said.

“We un­der­stand the mo­tor­cy­cle cul­ture here is grow­ing,” Elli said in­side a Du­cati show­room in Bei­jing. “The in­ter­est in rid­ing a bike goes be­yond the bans, and peo­ple who buy a bike may any­how find a way to ride wher­ever it’s pos­si­ble.”

The re­stric­tions, cou­pled with a pref­er­ence for cars and elec­tric bi­cy­cles, have caused China’s mo­tor­cy­cle mar­ket to shrink. New mo­tor­bike reg­is­tra­tions fell to an es­ti­mated 7.6 per 1,000 peo­ple last year, from al­most 13 per 1,000 peo­ple in 2009, ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­searcher Min­tel Group Ltd. In con­trast, per-capita reg­is­tra­tions in In­dia more than dou­bled and are pre­dicted to be three times greater than China’s by 2018, Min­tel said.

China’s mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try, which is es­ti­mated to be

We can fore­see there will be more and more ho­tels ap­ply­ing newtech­nol­ogy to el­e­vate guest ex­pe­ri­ences.”

She said Ho­tels.com, too, has been in­cor­po­rat­ing handy tools in smart watches and other de­vices, to of­fer a seam­less, de­vice-neu­tral and per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence in terms of book­ing, travel and ho­tel stay for trav­el­ers.

Ho­tel.com does this by an­a­lyz­ing big data com­piled from var­i­ous sources, in­clud­ing click­streams, re­views, per­sonal pref­er­ences of users and ho­tel pro­files.

For ex­am­ple, Ho­tels.com’s tech­nol­ogy can iden­tify a reg­is­tered user’s de­vice and also mem­o­rize des­ti­na­tions searched on its book­ing plat­form. When the user vis­its the plat­form usingan­oth­erde­vice, she can pick up where she had left off, said Chuang.

“We con­tin­u­ously im­prove our tech­nol­ogy to make it Jes­sica Chuang, com­pat­i­ble with PCs, mo­bile phones and the lat­est wear­able tech­nol­ogy.”

Like for Ho­tels.com, dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity is key to hote­liers as well. Ken­nethMacpher­son, CEO, Greater China, IHG, said the com­pany’s global on­line sur­vey con­ducted in part­ner­ship with YouGov, showed nearly half of adults, or 43 per­cent of its guests, would choose not to stay in a ho­tel that charged for in­ter­net.

In 2013, IHG be­came the fir­stan­don­ly­hos­pi­tal­i­ty­group to of­fer free in­ter­net at all of its ho­tels glob­ally to its loy­alty pro­gram mem­bers, whether they stay for one or more nights or­comein just for a cof­fee or an im­promptu meet­ing, saidMacpher­son.

“Our guests dream, plan, book, share on­line and, one could ar­gue, even stay on­line, given how con­nected peo­ple are when they are in our ho­tels. So, we break the guest jour­ney­down­into five dis­tinct steps, each of which makes ef­fec­tive use of mo­bil­ity and other tech­nolo­gies,” said Macpher­son.

IHG was also the first ho­tel com­pany to launch apps across all mo­bile plat­forms. “It’s very im­por­tant to know where your con­sumers are and what they like, and go with them to these plat­forms and ful­fil their needs,” he said.

We can fore­see there will be more and more ho­tels ap­ply­ing new tech­nol­ogy...”

re­gional mar­ket­ing direc­tor, Ho­tels.com, Greater China, South­east Asia and In­dia

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