BANGKOK, 15 July 2019: Pain points may dampen Thailand’s tourism growth, but tourism marketing consultant and founder of DBS Asia, David Barrett, believes the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s is on the right track.
He was commenting on TAT’s 2020 marketing plan presentation delivered to tourism leaders last week.
Posting his review on Facebook at the weekend, he described the TAT plan as “quick win business” delivered through key “Go” campaigns in 2020.
But in response to questions raised by Facebook friends, he cautioned saying there was an urgent need to focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), community-based tourism and sustainability.
“Responsible Tourism; be mindful of the destination, natural resources and local community,” he advised in his post while emphasising the Brand Thailand campaign continued to have a strong identity and remained appealing.
But he delivered a big “no to overtourism calling for better management of tourism in destinations to ensure Thailand is not trashed.”
But Marine Scene Asia and media specialist, Duncan Worthington, waded into the lively Facebook discussion with the observation that TAT’s remit does not extend to dealing with “issues of overtourism while infrastructure, sustainability is not their domain. These issues need to be addressed more so than marketing, but by whom?”
He added: “No authority has taken responsibility in this area in the past, hence the situation today. Some have joined up thinking cooperation between government departments and agencies is needed if Thailand wishes to reboot tourism. Without that, the TAT will continue to market a product, which is declining in quality.”
Barrett took the comments on board saying “radical action and fixes to long-term issues are needed”.
But he balanced the politically correct tightrope carefully adding “it is good to see TAT has an action plan for superficial quick wins, but maybe the Amazing Thailand brand has run its course, and this is the time for a major rethink of Brand Thailand.”
In the meantime, Barrett trotted out a useful summary of TAT’s marketing initiatives that are lined up for 2020 under the command tagline “Go.”
Experience Thailand’s gastronomy scene and high-end dining.
Eat Thai. Visit Thai campaign in partnership with Thai restaurants in France.
Target DINKS (Double Income No Kids couples) age 35 to 65. Promotion in France; Paris, Nice and Lyon.
Hook & Hub strategy.
Attract visitors to popular tourism hubs and then channel them to second-tier destinations for a new experience
* TAT Stockholm target Millennials (24-35) & DINKS.
Promote destinations: Phrae, Nan, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai.
* TAT Rome targets business executives and DINKS. Destinations: Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Chiang Rai, Nan, Phang Nga.
* TAT Frankfurt – promote Go Local and experience Hidden Gems. Target Millenials and active seniors. Destinations: Trad, Trang, Chantaburi, Ranong, Chumporn, Nakhon Sri Thammarat and Mae Hong Son.
* TAT Singapore – shopping luxury, shopping local brands, massage and local food (flavour & value).
GO NEW CUSTOMERS
Understand and focus on visitor demographics, behavioural trends, higher income groups and professional executives.
TAT New York – “Manifest Your Purpose in Thailand”. Marketing with digital channels, Chefs and influencers.
TAT Los Angeles – “Make Thailand First in Latin America”. Specialist tour programmes in Portuguese and Spanish and targeting large Latin American fan base.
TAT New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Spain, Italy, Israel & Latin America – LGBTQ. Chasing the pink dollar with package promotions.
TAT Toronto – Women
Promoting “Women’s Journey” in Thailand and “Begin Your Thailand Journey”
TAT London – “More Thailand For You” focusing on Krabi, Surat Thani, Trad, Rayong, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Rai, Sukhothai, Mae Hong Son.
In conclusion, Barrett claimed the “Go” plan would focus on the “changing travel habits of visitors presented in market updates.
It identifies fewer long-distance trips and more short holidays a year, while there is a tendency to stay closer to home
There is evidence of increasing demand for “nature and local” experiences
He noted there is more demand for diversity as well as active holiday and not just lying on a beach
Wellness, yoga and lifestyle experiences will be more accessible. Travellers are searching for “new places beyond touristy areas”, and this calls for a focus on specialised products such as yachting, honeymoons and luxury travel.
“Thailand still has the advantage of visa-free entry, value for money, accessibility with good (clean) air and remains the most hospitable destination,” Barrett claimed.
TTR Weekly asked the Bangkok-based inbound tour operator Go Thailand’s director of business development Tobias Fischer for a takeaway on the TAT marketing plan presentation.
“I have attended every year. I must say the TAT Clinic and the information received is highly beneficial for tour companies.
“But in the past business was easier… tour operators served in the countries where we had markets who distributed the travel products to consumers via retailers.”
“Today, there are so many segments and different distribution channels and market platforms, he noted saying repeat, and high-end independent travellers have much higher expectations that demand a different approach.
“The DMC has to be an innovative service provider, and the TAT presentation and plans underscore these needs and changes.”