PHUKET, 16 June 2022: Phuket is ready to welcome visitors having recruited skilled staff to ensure the island’s hospitality is back to winning ways despite the two-year pause in business.

But the return of airline services is vital to deliver the rebound in bookings and the island’s hospitality leaders need to determine the sales strategy and direction going forward while possibly addressing the need to refine hotel products and services to meet new market requirements. 

Angsana Laguna Phuket, Senior Area General manager Michal Zitek said that the hotel has been focusing on human development to prepare skilled and experienced staff for the comeback of Phuket’s tourism following the recent easing of travel restrictions. 

“During 2020-2021, when tourism in Phuket was dramatically hit by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, some skilled staff decided to leave the hospitality industry because of the uncertainties in tourism and hospitality. Now, tourism and hospitality started to demonstrate stability, and the service charges are returning to sustainable levels. At Angsana Laguna Phuket, we expect to see skilled and experienced staff coming back to us. At the same time, we will do our best to develop and motivate the new generation joining the hospitality industry,” said Zitek. 

“When it comes to people, we need to ensure that we have enough skilled, qualified, and motivated associates to deliver the services we promise to our guests”

At the end of last year, amid the ongoing challenge for skilled labour, the hotel and its sister brands in Phuket conducted mass recruitments and welcomed new staff to the hospitality industry.

“When it comes to people, we need to ensure that we have enough skilled, qualified, and motivated associates to deliver the services we promise to our guests. Therefore, we signed MoU with the Prince of Songkla University to work on human development and management programmes. We also established in-house training facilities in conjunction with Banyan Tree Management Academy so that we can re-develop the quality of the hospitality industry in Thailand.” 

Zitek said that although some source markets that delivered robust bookings in the pre-Covid-19 era have still not fully recovered there is plenty of evidence to show new markets are emerging post-Covid.

“This means we have to keep up with the latest trends and respond quickly in the markets that are being served by airlines.”  

“One area that we’re focusing on is our language skills. Besides global languages, we are also looking for specialists in other languages, such as Arabic or Russian, to cater to the latest booking trends from the Arabic or Russian-speaking markets. At the moment, we’ve seen a lot more Middle East travellers. And they are not the typical Middle East travellers we welcomed before such as from Dubai. We are finding that other markets are opening up, and we have received guests from Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. So, there’s an extension of the business that’s coming through from Arab states rather than just the Gulf States,” Zitek explained. 

Currently, Indian travellers have become a major source of inbound arrivals to Phuket thanks to direct air links from Indian cities, such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Delhi.

“When there’re flights, there’re guests. Leisure and wedding groups from India are now becoming popular again in Phuket. Based on the requirement of these markets, we still engage our Indian chef and serve authentic Indian food to guests.

“Next on the horizon is the South Korean market, which has a holiday period from July to October. Again, this allows us to look more closely at our products and services offered in the Korean markets, especially family and honeymoon travels. Angsana is already established to cater to both markets’ needs, whether it’d be our stunning one-bedroom suites for honeymoon couples or two-bedroom suites for family markets.” 

For the Russian market, he said that the hotel is monitoring the situation and looking at various outcomes that could materialise toward the end of the year. “Like everything in Phuket, we’re determined by the airlift. So, it depends on whether the Russian airlines, including charter operators, can fly from Russia without restrictions.” 

Currently, Angsana Laguna Phuket is offering 381 guest rooms in a spacious seaside property on the west coast of Phuket. The hotel has a strong history as a leisure hotel, while in 2019, it added a 1,500-sqm Angsana Convention and Exhibition Space (ACES) that gives an opportunity for the hotel to diversify and expand the market into meetings and convention businesses.

With the opening up of Thailand’s tourism, the hotel was selected as the venue for the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) from 8 to 10 June 2022. 

“Typically, we are sitting above 60% even without meeting groups. With the exhibition and meeting groups, we would sit around 90% plus. We’re expecting to see 100% in some weeks in the coming months this year. It’s promising for Phuket that we have those occupancy levels coming through, and of course, it also helps other industries in Phuket, including restaurants, transportation, and food suppliers, get back to business.” 

In terms of the MICE markets, Phuket benefits from direct flights from Israel which also includes incentive groups visiting Phuket. “On the radar, we’ll see incentive groups from long haul markets including the UK, Australia, and the USA. Air access to Phuket is still better than many other destinations. We still have flights from Singapore and hope the route from South Korea will re-open soon. So, we’ve seen that the airlift and flight connectivity make a big difference in convincing corporations to select Phuket as a meeting and incentive destination,” Zitek concluded.