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
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