Thai Tourism Companies Need to Refine Their Indian and Russian Marketing

BANGKOK, July 12, 2011 – Thailand's hotels, tour operators and meetings companies need to move their marketing from the national level down to city, language or demographic niche if they are to more successfully reach tourists from India or Russia.

That was conclusion of expert speakers addressing the PATA Thailand Chapter seminar in Bangkok on July 12 called "Tourism Behaviour of the 'RICHI' Inbound Markets to Thailand."

During the event, tourism expert, Professor Philip Pearce of James Cook University in Queensland told 50 travel industry attendees, including senior TAT executives, to avoid the "sin of over generalisation" and closely observe visitor behaviour in order to create rewarding travel experiences that visitors will talk about when they go home.

"Listen to the stories they tell and don't just rely on satisfaction indexes," he said. "Successful marketing now requires the ability to provide an experience economy that is in tune with generational changes, sustainability and new technology," he said.

He noted that "techpacker havens" are increasingly important – places where travellers, luxury or budget, can plug in social media appliances, use large screens, skype with families back home, download new music and service mobile and social devices.

Ravi Bhatia, Director of Indian Host, an India-focused hospitality group in Bangkok, called for Thailand and India to "reconnect" their deep historical and cultural similarities that had become somewhat "lost" in recent times.

"The number of Indian tourists visiting Thailand could easily double in two or three years," he predicted. Direct and low cost aviation links, peer one-upmanship, and the prohibitive cost of holidaying in places such as Goa were all enticing the newly affluent Indian middle classes to visit Thailand.

However, Thais need to pay more attention to Indian culinary and wedding needs. "Tofu isn't found in any Indian restaurant," he said. "And don't present vegetarian food to look or taste like meat – Indians will not choose it."

He recommended that Thailand should concentrate on the Indian wedding market and having Bollywood films made on location in Thailand.

Andrey Snetkov, the contract and marketing manager of Pattaya based TEZ Tour, which specializes in the Russian market, told attendees that 90% of trips to Thailand were still arranged by Russian travel agents as the online booking and credit card networks in Russia were still not trusted.

He lamented that many Russian travel agents don't have first-hand experience of Thailand so their recommendations to clients are frequently ill-informed. Familiarisation trips for travel agents are an important way to remedy this, he said.

He noted that since the first Russian charter flight to Utaphao, near Pattaya, in 1991, Russian visitor arrivals to Thailand had grown at a rate of between 20 and 100% per year – a trend he predicted to continue.

Some 600,000 Russians visit Thailand annually, most of them preferring Pattaya for price and variety reasons, he said.

About the PATA Thailand Chapter

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Thailand Chapter is a voluntary not-for-profit membership organisation that supports the responsible development of the travel and tourism industry in Thailand. The Chapter organises tourism training seminars, disseminates useful information to its members and the media and supports the strategic objectives of PATA head office. The Chapter comprises both private and government sectors. Further information: www.pata-thailand.org.

© 2010 Pacific Asia Travel Association Thailand Chapter. All rights reserved.