BANGKOK, 8 September 2017: The Tourism Authority of Thailand has pledged to make the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in Chiang Mai a success, by improving the quality of TRAVEX buyers. claiming ASEAN destinations earn millions of dollars in business transacted during the three-day trade show.
To add credence to that claim, TAT says it will abide by strict guidelines to scrutinise buyer registration at the show to ensure only decision makers who are empowered to negotiate contracts can attend.
The show in recent year has been criticised for a poor turnout of quality buyers. Critics claim there are too many buyers who view ATF as an annual paid holiday, or reunion with buddy tour operators.
Sellers often complain that tour companies assign junior staff to attend, who are not authorised to negotiate rates, or contracts. It is often viewed as an educational exercise and an economical way to update content at the cost of the host country.
The vetting promised by TAT, will be conducted according to specific ASEAN requirements, posted on the secretariat’s website, that apply for both hosted and non-hosted buyers .
Buyers are defined as tour companies that source travel content from suppliers (hotels, airlines, attractions, land tours) and package them in holiday arrangements for consumers, either groups or individuals. However, in recent year TRAVEX has allowed online travel agencies and booking sites such as Expedia, Booking.Com and Agoda to join as buyers.
Singapore hosted this year’s ATF and TRAVEX in January, with just 324 buyers and 355 exhibitors. In 2016, when it was hosted by the Philippines, organisers claimed there were 457 buyers and 467 exhibitors with a total attendance of 1,000 which included government officials more than a 100 media representatives, both sales and editorial.
Thailand is likely to gain a buyer attendance of around 400 to 450 and this number essentially gauges the show’s importance for travel suppliers when they consider value for promotional dollars spent.
“TRAVEX is the engine room driving much of ASEAN’s tourism success story,” said TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn. “That’s why we are calling out to exhibitors to book their space, and for buyers to come and showcase the best of Southeast Asia to the world.”
ATF takes place at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) 22 to 26 January, 2018, with travel industry buyers conducting business on the floor of TRAVEX 24 to 26 January.
“Based on its experience organising the Thailand Travel Mart, TAT undoubtedly has the marketing reach and buyer-handling discipline to make TRAVEX work smoothly for ASEAN,” said Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.
Hosted and non-hosted travel industry buyers will have to meet rigorous criteria to receive an invitation.
Buyers must be experienced in the tourism or travel business, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region;
They should be senior decision makers or consultants, negotiators and influencers from an outbound department with high-level responsibilities;
They must have purchasing authority to contract with ATF suppliers and make purchasing decisions on the show floor;
They must have a history of organising outbound groups and events to multiple destinations;
They need to show a history of continuous travel purchases; and be able to demonstrate that they regularly work with travel suppliers in the leisure travel or MICE sectors.
It will not be possible to ascertain if the criteria is applied consistently if the buyers’ list is not freely available to the media to scrutinise.
However, every year there are complaints that some buyers hosted at the show are not in a position to contract business or negotiate terms.
It will remain to be seen if TRAVEX 2018 will address those concerns and raise the bar of quality.
To join the ATF Travex 2018, visit www.atfthailand2018.com
(Source: ASEAN Secretariat plus TTR Weekly input)