Celebrating 25 years of being in business and the rapidly growing adventure travel niche in Thailand, the German Touratech company and its Thai importer and distributor hosted “Made for Adventure” – the largest motorcycle travel event ever held in Southeast Asia.
The two-day weekend gathering, held in the hills an hour northeast of Bangkok, saw Thai motorcycle adventure seekers parading, GPSing, tire kicking, chilling and swilling at an event similar to what Touratech offers European riders each summer in Germany.
Event planners used a well-known cowboy and western-themed tourist park a few hours outside of Bangkok to host the attendees.
This was a corporate sponsored party and obvious product promotional event, with entrance fee free for those attending. To the discerning eye it was clear that Touratech had containerized much of their German event equipment, tents, displays and products and shipped it all to Thailand. One German traveler attending the event noted that even the recliner chairs around the event center bore the official German government certifications for “Made in Germany.”
The price on an imported or “large displacement” (over 125 cc) motorcycle in Thailand can easily double the cost of the same motorcycle in Germany or the USA. The same price increase applies to imported luxury items like accessories. This high import tax makes the niche of adventure motorcycle touring an expensive one for the average Thai.
One Thai attendee lamented the fact that not only were the adventure travel motorcycles and accessories extremely expensive but it often took up to two months for a product to arrive after ordering from an importer. The motorcycle he and I were examining would have cost me about $20,000 in the USA, but his price in Thailand was close to $45,000.
Attendees wanting to purchase one of the recently announced Touratech “adventure” modeled helmets did not have to wait for one to be shipped from Germany and passed through Thai customs and importation bureaus, helmets were for sale on site.
The adventure travel event offered a wide range of products ranging from customized adventure tours to adventure cider for the thirsty traveler. Besides the products offered by Touratech, vendors displayed riding suits, cameras, boots, helmets, camping gear, tires, and a well presented manufacturer area where motorcycles were shown by marques ranging from Ducati to Kawasaki. Notably absent were motorcycles and related accessories “Made in Milwaukee,” presenting a clear marketing line between cruising and adventure travel.
There was a less clear line between rally racing and adventure touring, as Touratech markets a broad range of accessories for both niches. The company had shipped in several of their rally-prepped race motorcycles for display, along with several of the fully kitted adventure travel models, each with products manufactured or sold by Touratech. On large outdoor video screens videos of the famed Paris-Dakar Rally were playing, clearly not adventure travel events.
Throughout both days the attendee motorcycle parking lot was as much of a show itself as was vendor row or the manufacturer displays. Although the high price of imported adventure travel accessories would be a limiting factor, a walk-through of the parked motorcycles showed Thai adventure travelers had done their adventure touring research well. If some well-known German or British adventure travel personality had worn a certain motorcycle suit or color of boots, the same could be seen on some Thai attendee. The same could be said of aftermarket bolt-on accessories.
Need light, day or night? This Thai adventure traveler had enough candle power to light a football stadium.
One popular adventure travel accessory was additional lights. While two or four additional running lights were common, one heavily accessorized adventure travel motorcycle hosted six additional lights, enough to light up an outdoor stadium for an evening game of soccer or baseball.
There were some uniquely Thai products and presentations, such as a cleaning product modeled by two Thai promotional ladies dressed in nurse’s uniforms, implying that using the product would nurse the dirty motorcycle back to a clean and healthy status.
There were some day-time activities that attendees could join or engage in, like a group ride following prescribed GPS tracks, or an off-road riding course where instructors helped Thai motorcyclists hone their off-pavement skills, possibly as the rider dreamed of doing rally adventure riding like that shown on the video screens.
It was obvious that big money was spent to put on the big travel event, with the proceeds from sales not possibly recouping the event investment. To the credit of Touratech, display vendors and the motorcycle manufacturers, even if the investment didn’t pay off they were obviously willing to roll their dice on this expanding niche market. The event proved a great opportunity for the Thai attendees to get a taste of motorcycle travel with an emphasis on getting their bikes a little dirty and off the well-trod cruiser paths.
Looking outside the Thai travel event toward the rest of the world, Touratech may be on to a unique global marketing plan, that of pop-up travel events. With their shipping containers easily loaded with tents, chairs, motorcycles and product there could be similar “Travel Events – Made for Adventure” on the horizon in previously untouched places like China and India.
Thai adventure riders extended congratulations to Touratech – the once small, one-item company from Niederschach, Germany – for bringing Abenteurer from the Black Forest to Thailand.
- Mid-day on Saturday the parking lot was filling with a wide range of travel adventure model motorcycles, an estimated 75% of which were BMW GS models.
- The Yamaha Tenere was well represented as attendee travel models were presented for parking lot tire kicking and viewing.
- A special “off-road” course was available along with instructors for Thai attendees to learn or polish their off-pavement riding skills.
- The Thai travelers were well versed in motorcycle adventure travel bling and farkle, extra driving lights seemingly the favored add-on.
- Triumph’s Tiger was being promoted as their adventure travel leader.
- BMW had a surprisingly small manufacturer display given the great number of BMW GS models ridden to the travel event by GS owners.
- Kawasaki offered their full line of models available in Thailand in their display. The KLR650, known worldwide as a Kawasaki adventure travel model, and manufactured in Thailand, is not sold in Thailand, so their closest offering in the adventure travel niche are the Versys models.
- Voted by our wandering photographer the “Best Accessory Marketed Product Presentation” was a product called Muc-Off, a spray on cleaner to get the muc off your motorcycle, using promo ladies dressed as nurses to nurse your dirty motorcycle back to a healthy clean.