New ADVRider inmate Michael Carlin loves motorcycles. He’s been riding since he was 16 and has hundreds of thousands of miles of riding experience. Riding is his passion.
But while he was immersed in the day to day work life grind, he spent time thinking about a week in January when he would try to escape the cold German winters to do some riding.
Michael’s mission was to find off-road training somewhere in the world that was warm, included a rental bike, and provided quality instruction. And, he aimed to do it as inexpensively as possible without sacrificing training quality.
Finding the riding
With that mission, Michael searched the internet and reviewed information from many different online forums. But finding an off-road training school where it was warm and also included a bike turned out to be a difficult task.
With all his searching, he often found multiple offerings. He found so many that he had to develop a list. Then, with a list of operators, he had to sort them for price, location, bike availability, etc. Once he had done that, it was still a gamble that his chosen operator offered quality training. It got to be a gigantic hassle.
It was this experience that led him to make a big decision. Michael decided to leave the day to day corporate grind and build a moto website that addresses the needs of people like him; riders who want to fulfill their riding addiction. So by 2016, he had joined with two former co-workers, Christoph Kähler and Malte Meiboom, to develop a beta version of a website they later called MOTOURISMO. By 2018 the full release website was up and running in Europe.
To date, MOTOURISMO has helped over 2,000 riders book their motorcycle tour, shipping, and training. And now, they are expanding to the US with the same service that they offer successfully in Europe and other countries.
Anything that makes making selections like these more accessible is right up my alley. So I was happy to have the opportunity to chat with Michael about MOTOURISMO and its offerings.
MOTOURISMO interview with Michael Carlin
ADVRider: People in the USA may be unfamiliar with MOTOURISMO. Tell us a little about MOTOURISMO and why you started it.
Michael Carlin: I simply had a huge hassle finding motorcycle related operators. The issue was not only finding motorcycle operators you can trust, but also finding operators that fit my needs.
My special interest at the time was to escape winter during a specific week in January to take an offroad training course somewhere in the world that included a rental bike. And, do it without spending a large amount of money.
I searched using Google and waded through many, many different motorcycle forums. It took a lot of time. And, I found it difficult to find the types of riding I wanted. So I ended up with a new mission: Create a solution for riders by offering a special web based platform to help them with all the things necessary for riding, training and shipping.
ADVRider: In a nutshell, what should people know about MOTOURISMO?
We’re the first special interest platform that consolidates information for motorcycle tours, training, and shipping – as well as all combinations of these services. And, we see that as a huge opportunity for riders all around the globe. Now riders can find and compare all these moto services in a single place and book them easily.
How long has MOTOURISMO been operating?
We started a technical beta version in 2016. The launch of our current version was January 2018. We’re currently preparing to take the next step; going global with an English language version.
Does Motourismo have an office location that people can visit and talk with you?
For now, our intent is to offer our services on the web. But we do have an office in Hamburg, Germany. While we don’t receive people at our office, we are just an email or online chat away from speaking with you. As we grow, we intend to have in-person customer service.
We also plan to extend our telephone service hotline to the U.S. as soon. We are working to extend that service to U.S. time zones. And in the future we hope to have personal customer service based in the U. S.
MOTOURISMO and motorcycle tours
ADVRider: Does MOTOURISMO offer moto tours?
Tours are one of our main services. And, I believe MOTOURISMO’s capability offers unique advantages to the motorcycle community. We have pretty much anything a rider could want in a moto tour. But, MOTOURISMO is not an operator. We have built a very large database of tour operators. We created a one-stop shopping place for moto adventures of all kinds – be it a short offroad winter escape in Southern Europe, a Harley tour in the USA, New Zealand and South Africa – or even an epic three week Trans-Siberia Moscow to Vladivostock adventure trip.
With our very broad knowledge of the operators, we are also a source of independent advice. If you have questions, we’ll have or get the answer.
ADVRider: MOTOURISMO seems to have an extensive range of tours, can you tell me about the sorts of tour packages you offer?
We pride ourselves in helping riders obtain everything they need for their trip. We can provide pretty much anything they would want for their moto tour. Accomodations, rental bikes, tour guides, support vehicles, flight and/or ferry – it depends on what you’re looking for.
If you don’t find what you want on MOTOURISMO.com, contact us and we can likely help you find what you need.
ADVRider: Do MOTOURISMO tours include the cost of a rental motorcycle, or do riders have to bring their own machine?
Some tours include the rental bike, others don’t. If the tour does include a rental bike and you want to ride your own, some will allow the rider to use their machine and receive a reduced price.
ADVRider: What brands of bikes are available on MOTOURISMO‘s tours?
MOTOURISMO has a broad variety of brands available. But the quick answer is that the brand of the bike depends on what the operator utilizes. And, then, it’s the type of bike that is more important. It has to be suitable for the terrain that the tour will travel.
Right now, our tour partners are operating brands like KTM, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Honda, Triumph, Royal Enfield and others.
That doesn’t mean that each of these brands is avaialble for every single tour, but it shows how broad our moto selections are.
ADVRider: Do MOTOURISMO tours include a support vehicle?
Many of them do – you can easily use our website’s filter option to get a quick answer.
How MOTOURISMO is different
ADVRider.com: What’s the most important thing for a person to know about MOTOURISMO?
Most importantly everyone should know that there is no such thing as a “MOTOURISMO branded tour – at least not yet.” Motourismo provides a service that helps you easily find your special tour. We’re integrating and cooperating with many different motocycle partners around the globe.
So, we’re happy to give advice on any tour we offer via email, chat, or telephone. However, I recommend that riders have fun exploring their riding options on MOTOURISMO.com. There they can find a moto trip almost anywhere in the world!
ADVRider: What makes MOTOURISMO different than all the other moto travel companies?
What makes us different is the fact that we’re actually not an operator. Although there are many, many operators around the world that service moto specialties; there was no one-stop travel agency designed especially for motorcyclists. MOTOURISMO fills this gap and provides the world of motorcycle tour, rental, shipping and training at a single dedicated motorcycling website.
ADVRider: Why should people book with MOTOURISMO instead of an individual operator?
When someone books with MOTOURISMO they are booking with the individual operator, but through MOTOURISMO. And, on top of that, MOTOURISMO acts as your trusted partner and provides you with independent, third party customer service.
ADVRider: So, MOTOURISMO aggregates existing packages of vetted providers and makes them searchable and bookable?
Exactly. We only partner with operators that we have vetted ourselves or by discussing the tour’s operations with the owners, and the people who have used the operator’s services.
Being in touch with an operator’s customers is a thing that automatically comes with our concept as an online travel agency. We continously focus on this. Even after a rider comes back from their tour. We want to know how the tour went.
In the future, we’ll have online customer reviews and ratings. But we want to make sure that we verify all reviews and ratings. There will be no pay for reviews on MOTOURISMO.com. We’re working on the rating system now, but as a startup, we can’t do everything at once.
ADVRider: What are the most popular tours on your platform?
For our European customers, our most popular tours are in the Alps, the Mediterranean area especially Southern Spain, the Nordics, and the USA with people choosing to ride Harley-Davidsons. As we expand globally, people’s favorite tours may change.
ADVRider: For tours that occur outside the USA, is there always at least one tour leader that speaks English?
Yes, there is. When you use the English language version of MOTOURISMO.com, you will only see offerings that fit English speaking riders. Therefore the amount of offerings in English language will grow continuously as we integrate more and more new international partners.
ADVRider: In how many countries do MOTOURISMO tours operate?
The number of tours changes depending on the offerings from our partner operators. But at the moment, tours take place in around 50 countries.
ADVRider: 50 countries? That’s a lot of opportunities to ride. So if someone rides more than once with MOTOURISMO, do you offer a discount for people who book multiple tours?
Not yet but we have some very interesting plans for that. Keep an eye on our website!
ADVRider: If there is a problem on a tour, who does the rider contact? The tour operator or MOTOURISMO?
That’s up to you. Of course your operator is your contractor and will be at your service. But we’re also always happy to hear from you and will always try to help where we can.
Since we’re in close contact to our operators, we’re also happy to get in touch with the operator on your behalf to find the best solution should a problem arise.
Does MOTOURISMO offer self-guided tours? If you do, are GPS tracks provided?
Yes we do. All self guided tours will give you a detailed map to follow. In addition, many offer GPS tracks and GPS rental if desired.
ADVRider: We’ve talked a lot about tours, but you also offer other services, correct?
Yes we also provide motorcycle shipping services as well as motorycle training.
ADVRider: Let’s talk about motorcycle shipping. If someone wants to ship their bike to a MOTOURISMO tour, can MOTOURISMO help?
Yes, we can. We haven’t ever had a shipping request where we couldn’t deliver. The only issue that could occur is the price.
Although we can ship almost anywhere, we might advise a rider to chose a rental instead. Sometimes, it just might not make economic sense to ship. But the decision to ship or not is always up to the customer.
ADVRider: What does a person have to do to prepare their bike for shipment?
That depends on the kind of shipment that is requested as well as on how our partners want to handle it. In some cases you are only asked to have as little fuel as possible in the fuel tank and to disconnect the battery. In cases like those, we will take care of the rest.
You will also have the option to crate or palletize the bike yourself, for example if you are shipping by container vessel or cargo flight. Check with us and we can advise you what is necessary.
Can MOTOURISMO help with shipping even if a rider is not going on a MOTOURISMO tour?
Yes, we can and we have in the past. Whether you want to use your bike on one of our tours or just ship your bike to a destination, shipping is one of our service categories.
ADVRider: If someone chooses to ship with MOTOURISMO, does the person have to deliver their bike to a particular place, or is the bike picked up at the person’s home?
It depends on the situation, but often both options are availalble.
ADVRider: You said that MOTOURISMO also offers training. What kind of training does MOTOURISMO offer? Is the training for any particular level of ability required?
Yes, we do offer training. We have many types of training available in Europe. The type of training varies and includes all skill levels for both pavement and off-road riding. So if you are a new rider, advanced rider, or even a racer, we have training for you. If you’ve never ridden off-road or are an experienced dirt bike rider, we have training for you as well. And if you ask, our off-road training is our most popular training category.
At the moment, almost all our training is conducted in Europe. But we are now building a portfolio of training providers in the USA. We are currently building a portfolio of U.S. training opportunities.
To help us grow, we are always happy to have riders’ recommendations, especially inmates’ recommendations on training course operators we should talk to. Of course, also operators themselves are always welcome to get in touch with us.
ADVRider: Is a motorcycle rental included in the cost of the training?
Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. In certain cases it may make sense to use you own bike. For example, during safety or cornering training which is also about getting to know your own bike better.
Other times it doesn’t make sense. Say if you wanted to go to offroad beginner training. You wouldn’t want to buy your own dirt bike just to have a first try.
ADVRider: How does someone choose the correct level of training they should choose?
We always state the course level in our offer. So it should be easy to choose a course for your level of riding ability. But you need to be honest about your riding skill level and stick to it. It will not only be safer, but will also be way more fun!
ADVRider: So, MOTOURISMO offers tours, shipping, and training. But do you provide stand-alone motorcycle rentals?
While many of our tours include a rental motorcycle, we don’t yet offer stand alone motorcycle rentals. But we are preparing to launch a motorcycle rental service as a separate category in the future.
ADVRider: Once stand-alone motorcycle rentals become available, will there be a minimum or maximum rental period?
No, there won’t be any restrictions on the rental period.
ADVRider: Will there be a discount for longer-term rentals?
Yes there will be.
ADVRider: How about special discounts for ADVRider inmates?
You won’t find anything like that as an official announcement on MOTOURISMO.com, but yes! We’d will give a $50 discount to ADVrider inmates.
ADVRider: What are your plans for the future?
We are constantly looking for new partners and opportunities to provide service all over the world. If you know of some partners that you think provide quality service, please feel free to reach out to us and let us know about them.
And, if you have a destination that you’d like to go to but can’t find on MOTOURISMO, contact us and we’ll get to work on finding a quality partner in that location.
ADVRider: I understand that MOTOURISMO has won some awards in Europe. That sounds pretty awesome for a startup company. Tell us about them.
We’ve won two awards that we are very proud of. We received our first award in June 2019 from the German Travel Online Maketing Association (“VIR, Verband Internet Resievertrieb”) awarded us 2nd place in “Sprungbrett”, a kind of travel startup of the year award.
In September 2019 we received our second award. for “Best Travel Technology” by the German “Travel Industry Club (TIR). They specifically noted MOTOURISMO citing our “…combination of leading web technology, automation and industry know-how with personal advice and long-term customer and partner loyalty.” We’re happy that TIR recognized us for succeeding with both the digital and personal sectors of the travel industry, not just one aspect.
ADVRider: Building and growing a worldwide startup company is a significant challenge. Is there anything that ADVRider inmates can do to help you and the ADVRider community?
Oh, yes, and we would very much appreciate that! For inmates there are actually several ways to help us. First of all: Please spread the word.
As I said before, we are aiming for a selection of offers that is as broad and valuable as possible. It has been working well for the European and German speaking version of MOTOURISMO. So, for the English version we would very much appreciate any recommendations for operating partners in all our categories, tours, training courses and shipping.
Secondly, we chose to flag our English language version as a beta version, although technically we’re already far beyond that. But you can always improve and that’s what we’ll always be aiming for. So please feel free to check MOTOURISMO for any issues and possible improvements, and let us know anytime.
You can reach us on our many channels by email (email@example.com) or website chat.
ADVRider: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor!
It was my pleasure, thank you very much for your time!