Thailand’s bookings looks bright


BANGKOK, Thailand, August 22, 2017: Interest in booking Thailand holidays is as robust as ever with the country heading for a great last quarter season, TripAdvisor senior director key accounts APAC, Grant Colquhoun, told a press briefing, Tuesday.

Commenting on TripAdisor’s latest inbound travel data for Thailand he said “barring anything disruptive Thailand tourism is looking robust… there is a wish-to-visit driven by low-cost airlines, new air access and emerging beach resorts.”

He argued that there was no sign of Thailand’s popularity waning, or bookings dampened by a strengthening of the Thai baht against the US dollar and UK pound.

So far this year the Thai baht has strengthened 7% against the US dollar, but Colquhoun said there was no evidence that currency fluctuations had impacted on online bookings.

“Travellers are demonstrating a strong wish to visit Thailand, he said. “They may have a price-point in mind and reduce the hotel category, but that has not dampened interest or demand.”

TripAdvisor’s latest inbound travel data for Thailand identified  top inbound countries interested in Thailand, as well as the most searched destinations in the country.

China continues to lead the way with the highest percentage increase in search traffic, with a year-on-year increase of 30%, outpacing the overall international average of 4%. India and Indonesia followed in second and third place, with year-on-year search increases of 16% and 12% respectively.

When examining the total inbound search traffic for Thailand, China tops the list followed by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Russia.

Top five inbound countries by overall search traffic

1 China
2 United States
3 United Kingdom
4 Australia
5 Russia

Countries that demonstrated a high Interest to travel to Thailand differed slightly from the real-time arrival totals, but they will give tourism operators and hotels a heads up on where a growth in bookings is likely to be generated over the remainder of the year.

Tourist arrivals for Thailand during the first half of the year were led by China followed by Malaysia and Laos.  India was also a top generator in real-time visits.

But TripAdvisor’s measure of interest, based on searches, indicates that after China the nations to watch are the USA, UK, Australia and Russia.

“Thailand has something for every traveller with its tropical beaches, heritage towns, delicious food, and an ever cosmopolitan capital city,” said Colquhoun. “The inbound travel data that is available on TripAdvisor provides local hospitality businesses and service providers with insights on travel trends and consumer behaviour to help them more effectively capture and cater to a global audience of high intent travellers.”

He added, “We are also encouraged to see hotels in Thailand becoming more engaged on TripAdvisor with 53% of them responding to travel reviews within the last month.”

Leading Thai hospitality management company Onyx Hospitality presented examples of how the group fine-tuned campaigns, promotional content and the time-frame for product launches based on TripAdvisor’s data input.

“International travellers make up a significant percentage of our business and we constantly adapt to evolving behaviour and expectations that travellers have when they visit our hotels in Thailand,” said, Onyx Hospitality Group senior director digital marketing, Chutima Fuangkham. “Using TripAdvisor has allowed us to better understand sentiments and behaviour of these travellers across all stages of their trips – from trip planning, duration and the behaviour they have in-destination – helping us to better shape business strategy and make our offerings more relevant to our guests.”

Data on searches and interest focused on Thailand’s beaches where the interest rating had the fastest growth rate.  Bangkok had a interest rate increase of 8%, but Krabi that is a fast emerging beach resort challenging Phuket’s dominance gained 41% in interest and searches.

Phuket’s Kathu and Nai Yang beach districts saw interest of international travellers peak at 37% and 31% respectively.

Cultural Chiang Mai and shopping city Hat Yai, close to the Malaysian border,  both enjoyed a 10% increase in searches.

This is the first time that Krabi has appeared in the top destinations list registering the highest year-on-year search increase.

Top five Thai destinations with the biggest increase in international traveller interest

(year-on-year growth)

1 Krabi 41%
2 Kathu 37%
3 Nai Yang 31%
4 Chiang Mai 10%
4 Hat Yai 10%

*Exact percentages rounded to zero decimal points

TripAdvisor’s data showed the differences in booking lead time and length of trips.

On average, international travellers visiting Thailand start planning their trip 65 days in advance and stay for almost five nights.

Out of the top five inbound markets by overall search traffic, Russian travellers take around 60 days to plan a trip, but stay the longest with approximately 11 nights per stay. Chinese travellers on the other hand, have a planning lead-time of approximately 51 days and stay for nearly four nights. Travellers from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia stay for an average of six nights and take the longest to plan, with lead-times of 108, 102 and 82 days respectively.

Amongst Chinese travellers searching for Thailand, there was a continued interest from those in the second-tier cities of Hangzhou, Dalian and Qingdao.

The surge in interest comes as the China Tourism Academy (CTA) shared that second and third-tier cities in China are fast catching up as key outbound tourism markets, due to increasing disposable income and improved flight connectivity to Southeast Asia.

Top five Chinese cities with biggest increase in traveller interest to Thailand

(year-on-year growth)

1 Beijing 102%
2 Hangzhou 91%
3 Dalian 81%
4 Qingdao 65%
5 Shanghai 61%

*Exact percentages rounded to zero decimal points