Hotels lean on locals as market shrivels


BANGKOK: Hotels and tour operators are pivoting their sights towards domestic travellers by promoting events linked to the Thai holidays as international tourism dries up because of coronavirus fears.

Promotions have been prepared to stimulate spending on room bookings during the Songkran festivities.

Of the 1,150 exhibitors joining the 54th edition of the Thai Teaw Thai travel expo, the vast majority are hotel operators, said Krit Patarapal, managing director of PK Exhibition, the organiser of the expo.

“We tend to see more promotional campaigns aimed at domestic tourists, as hoteliers want to maintain healthy revenue while international markets, especially Chinese guests, are declining,” he said. “The four-day show will attract 200,000 local visitors.”

Both local and international hotel brands are relying on value-added strategies, such as awarding extra nights or offering a free night for extra guests.

To improve food and drink revenue, hotels are promoting dining packages such as paying a three-person price for a group of four.

Mr Krit forecasts sales volume at the expo, running March 5-8, to hit B200 million, a 10% drop from last year. About 10% of local and international hotel chains are concerned about market sentiment and decided not to join the show this time.

But sales may grow by up to 10% if operators can lure high-spending tourists to provinces. The last edition of Thai Teaw Thai at Bitec saw strong advances in the Chon Buri and Rayong markets, both in terms of numbers and spending.

Phuriwat Limthavornrat, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, said his group is working on tourism packages that include special deals from hotels, restaurants and car rental firms in order to boost the flow of local travellers for the upcoming school holidays.

The association plans to organise a special tourism fair for the northeastern provinces, persuading operators from seaside provinces in the eastern region to offer tourism products to northeastern tourists under the theme “Bringing Beaches to Isan”.

“Tour operators have to come up with new activities to serve the corporate segment, which benefits from the two-times tax deduction for spending on domestic seminars from Jan 1 until Dec 3,” Mr Phuriwat said. “Tourism products are now much cheaper than in the previous high season due to the lack of international tourists.”

Daniel Simon, general manager of Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, said the usual revenue contributions from guestrooms and food and drink are 60% and 40%, respectively.

To generate more revenue and fill the gaps caused by booking cancellations due to the coronavirus, Anantara has to offer special deals to local residents and travel industry partners.

The hotel also offers special room rates for employees of its group, Minor International, and is expanding catering services outside the hotel and joining the city’s high-end wedding fair to drum up local demand.

“We also have to implement value-added strategies to F&B units such as starting food delivery service, offering dining card programmes and voucher sales, as well as extending happy hour until later to gain more revenue from local and corporate meetings,” Mr Simon said.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on February 19, 2020

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