Tag and Release – Bar Economics 101
Generally, the term “tag and release” relates to animals in the wild. A fish, bird, or mammal is caught, tagged with some kind of identification, and then released back into the wild in the hopes that researchers can track its movements and gain a better understanding of its life.
Men also use the term in reference to an attractive underage girl. You are not interested in having sex with a teenaged girl, however you know she is going to be a looker when she is in her 20s. So you metaphorically “tag” her, and release her into the wild, in the hopes of catching up when she is older.
So do Thai bargirls “tag and release” us Western men? They probably do not have the same name for it (or any name at all), but they sure do. You have either experienced it, or read about it in the many forums. From the stories that I have heard, just about every guy in this scenario seems to fall for it. It just may be that the guys who do fall for it, do not realize what happened and therefore gloat about their false sense of victory to us in the bars or forums.
I am sure some people reading this will automatically know where I am going with the term. However, before I explain what a Thai Tag and Release (TAR for short), we have to go back and look at bargirl economics.
In business, when talking about the factors of profitability, time is the only uncontrollable constant. No matter what business decision you make, you cannot change the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. For many people, the solution to make more money is to work more hours, however that limits you to that 24-hour day dilemma. The solution therefore must to increase the amount you make per hour/day.
Let’s assume that a bargirl makes 5000 baht if they work a productive day. This is probably a realistic figure. Before you start debating the “what ifs,” I know that a girl could make more or less in a day, however let's work on averages over a year. They work 6 days a week, and assuming they do not take any sick leave, vacation leave, and are not affected by the slow season, the maximum they can make is 30,000 baht a week, or 130,000 baht a month. The only way to increase this amount is to work the 7th day in a week.
If you are a bar girl and want to make more money, there are many external factors limiting your options. Your looks and how they appeal to western men, economic factors limiting the amount of travel to Thailand, and the standard SP (services provider) rates are out of a girl’s control. The only factors they can control are personal grooming, where they work, what they’re willing to do (service provided), and mastering their “pick-up” skills.
The girls understand this (or at least the smart ones do), and the solution is to have one or multiple western boyfriends who send a monthly allowance. Since they generally do not need to see them other than a few days a year, there is no limit to how much extra they can make a month. Personally, I have never gone down this route, but an educated guess from what I’ve read and heard is that the average boyfriend gives a girl between 10-20,000 baht a month. Girls that go down this route, probably have, on average, 5 western boyfriends.
To further understand bargirl economics, lets look at the theoretical (and most likely fairly accurate) scenario. A girl maintains 5 boyfriends at any given time, each giving an average of 15,000 baht a month, totaling 900,000 baht a year. For that, she needs to spend time with them when visiting Thailand, and my educated guess is that she spends an average of 11 days a year with any given guy. This is assuming the average boyfriend spends 7 days per vacation with their bargirl and travels an average of 1.5 times a year.
Since the girl cannot work in the bars while with her vacationing boyfriend, she loses 55 days a year in the bar at 5000 baht a day, meaning her opportunity loss is 275,000 baht, making her net profit 625,000 baht. If you break that down to a day rate, if she is a hard worker, not vacationing, getting sick, and working the full 6 days a week, she has increased her average daily earnings from 5000 baht to 7000 baht a day, or a 40% increase.
Understanding Barconomics, you can understand the following scenario. Most of us have either heard this story from some rookie at the bars or read this in a forum. They all have different details but it goes something like this:
“I hooked up with this real gem the other day. This girl was beautiful and totally into me. She said how good looking I was and easy on the eyes. She has always wanted to date a white man because the Thai guys don’t know how to treat a lady well. I picked her up at the gogo bar, and she was all over me as soon as we made eye contact. She wanted to spend the night with me, and didn’t even want money, I just had to pay the bar fine to get her out so she could be alone with me. We spent the most amazing night together, and then spent the day together. We went shopping in the afternoon and she wouldn’t even let me buy her something. She just said ‘I don’t want your money.’ I’m the luckiest guy in the world! I think I’m in love and she loves me.”
Obviously the guy posting this type of story has become a victim of the bargirl TAR. That girl must be completely into a guy to do that. In a job where people pay you for sex, why would you give up sex for free to a patron who would be willing and capable to give you money? It just does not make financial sense; therefore it must be love, right?
Just like in the wild, when a researcher puts in the time and effort to catch an animal they do not do it for the instant gains. All the effort is in the hopes that they can later track the beast and gain useful information in the future. With a bargirl it is no different.
The most likely scenario is that the girls who spent the whole day with the westerner was on her day off. Her only actual loss was the long-term payment for the night of sex, which is around 2500-3000 baht, or a half-day’s pay. For that, she has the potential of getting 15,000 baht a month out of you for the next 2-3 years. If the scenario was reversed, would you risk half a day’s pay for the potential of increasing your wages by 40 per cent? Yes, you probably would.
There is the question though on how successful could these girls be at bagging a guy that actually becomes a regular stream of income. I wouldn’t know the actual stats, however I would assume it is quite high; over 10% success rate. This is based on two factors. First is that the girls that do this are the ones on the top of their game. They are not some stupid farm girl, humble and only trying to send money back to their family. These girls are smart veterans, able to understand barconomics, and can read, assess and react to every type of customer.
The second factor is the sample size of sex tourists to learn from. A girl might be in contact with dozens of different guys a day. Times that over a whole year, and add the interaction their co-workers have with other men, you begin to build a profile of men based on tens of thousands of past sex mongers. The second you walk into a bar an experienced girl can tell what kind of patron you are. They probably know if you’re just a looker, if you will buy them a single girl drink, finger them for 5 minutes and then leave, or if you are barfine material. They can probably see a guy and know whether or not they are a mark for a long-term gig and those are the guys that they attempt the TAR method.
The guys that fall for this trap are some of the unluckiest bunch of fools out there. First off, they come onto forums or chat with you in the bar, gloating at how dumb they are. It reminds me of the guy showing off his new Rolex, which he proudly states that he bought for $200, oblivious to the fact that there are not two “L’s” in Rolex. They also have let fantasy broach reality. The fantasy is that there are honest bargirls who are just looking for love, and only working the bars to help their family. For some reason they have discovered you, an attractive white westerner, which they want to spend the rest of their lives with. The reality is that these successful girls look at you like how a plant manager looks at a piece of machinery. How can I maximize profitability?
The best advice is to run if you ever pick up a bargirl that doesn’t want money. Run away as fast as you can. Also, reassess yourself. If these girls are looking at you and they are seeing “sucker” written over your forehead, you
are doing something wrong, and if you want to stay ahead of the game, you really need to figure out where you’re going wrong.