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Main Topic: Love Motel Market Segmentation

Hosts: James Stanworth, Clyde Warden

Clyde at a Love Motel
Clyde next to a Love Motel Bug
Motels often raise images from American movies. The big parking lot, may be a building of a couple levels, the basic bed in a seedy room with a bathroom . . . ice machine down the walkway with some shady character hanging about. They are a convenient and cheap place to bunk down on a trip. By comparison, motels in Taiwan look very different and serve a completely different purpose. The basic similarity exists--you drive in, often directly into the basement where your room is.
Fees are advertised as "rest" or night. How long exactly a rest is, varies, but the prices range from 20 to 50 USD, and a night for 150 to 400 USD.

Private space is not something easy to come by in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Even in China, where there is some space, the social space is always crowded. Finding a space that is really private, for a young couple, is nearly impossible. In the 1980s, MTVs popped up all over, where private rooms included TVs and customers rented music videos. This morphed into KTV, very common today, but distinct from love motels. Clyde and James take a look at this very interesting and exciting service format.

Over the last few years high end motels have sprung up like exotic flowers accross Taiwan. These are not dirty off the beaten track places. These are high end, on main arterial roads in cities and designed to catch the eye. The building have interesting facades often integrating palm trees or other plants. Neon signs blink in showy colours. Some names are suggestive that they are love hotels, "The Love House", "Soft and Release" or "G-Motel" easily signal customers their business proposition. Signage outside displays prices clearly so customers have a clear idea of the base money. When customer arrive they drive up and to the small sheltered booth at the front of the motel. The, generally, female reception takes the booking and the customer drives into the parking lot under the motel room. The rooms inside range from luxury hotel look through to the full blown exotic with pool and themed decoration. A closer look and you are likely to find sex toys by the bed along with condoms.  Turning on the TV brings the full range of cable channels including graphic porn. The bathrooms are large with often with a jacuzi, tv, and shower.

So who goes there? We can see several possible segments:

- Younger lovers (20s to 30s) who are not married yet and need a private place. It is a good place to relax with a strong relaxing flavor: trees, private swimming pool and foreign decorations are all in abundance. The look is starkly different from their typical and boring Taiwanese-style home. Also the location is often a short distance from home or the city center which reduces travel time and costs. The price is quite cheap if the reference is Bali, rather than local motel. If you are thinking of taking your significant other to an exciting and romantic location - this could be include Bali, India or Italy. The motel captures the magic of these types of location with covenience and a (comparatively) attractive price point.

- Married couples (over 40) who want to celebrate or get rid of their kids. The love motel is not a huge outlay since their disposable income is higher that the first segment (generally dual incomes).
- Friends (around 20s - female). This group are unlikely to have cars to travel to another city (or money to go to an exotic country). So the motel offers the change to get together as you would in a hot spring. The huge room jacuzi or pool becomes a relaxing place to socialize. They are willing to pay since they just go there once or twice a year with their best friends.

- Private parties. You can bring your wine into the motel, sing KTV there, watch movies (and more than likely not porn!) and basically do whatever you want. It is private. You do not have to worry about the KTV service employees coming to interrupt your party time (see our upcoming show on this). You can do whatever you want (e.g., theme parties - to dress differently). It is cheap if you have lots of friend to share the expenses. Here, from a Western point of view, you can think of the classic house party relocated to the motel. This kind of event is not going to happen at home but the motel makes it possible.

- Extramarital relations. This segment will always exist. The scale and number of the motels, though, reveals that love motels are catering for way many more segments that those getting a bit of love on the side.
Who is out? The reality is few people are likely to go for a one night stand or the sexual liason. The value proposition is wrong since the focus of this activity (unless I'm niave) is all about the bed and the shower so the motel is too expensive. It seems possible, but a little unlikely you can call 'female entertainment' in these kinds of love hotels. These are more about going with friends.

Here is a DM from a love motel behind James' home: Download the PDF here. Here is a DM from a love motel Clyde visited: Download the PDF here.

These places are really attractive . . .

The Show:

Length: 28 minutes. Download MP3 12.8MB (Right click->Save As).



Consumer CamConsumerCam:

Vid. 1) James driving down a street near his home--full of colorful and huge motel neon signs (in slow motion).

Bottom Line:

  • These places are more about event/experience marketing.
  • Motels have grown out of the need for personal space (both physical and psychological).
  • The high end motels are a huge growth market in Taiwan.
  • They are often described as "love motels"
  • Their main offer has little to do with overnight stays.
  • Motels offer the sense of the exotic but in a convenient location: you don't have to travel to bali to get an island paradise!
  • Service is discrete and creates a sense of social ease since there are no interruptions.
  • Groups may get together for a party at a motel, since a shared cost makes the price reasonable. House parties are not a norm.
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