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Mice Asia Net : July 2009
thailand RESILIENCE PLAYS ITS PART IN 09 strategies STORY BY BRAD FOSTER LIKE ALMOST EVERYWHERE else in the world MICE business is down in Thailand. But the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau is fighting back with some thoughtful strategies. A ccording to TCEB senior PR manager, Parichat Svetasreni, the MICE sector has seen a significant slowdown in 2009, with TCEB anticipating between a 20 to 30 per cent shortfall in original targets and a zero per cent growth of MICE business in 2009. TCEB has also noticed a 20 per cent drop in group sizes and a shorter average length of stay for delegates. However, industry feedback is painting a better picture for 2010 and beyond, with Parichat reporting that forward bookings are strong and a recovery is expected by the second quarter of next year. “India and Middle East markets remain active for Thailand while China and Japan have been weakening,” Parichat said. “The number of events on average have dropped by 10 to 15 per cent, however these reductions are more related to group sizes and the number of participants. Delegate numbers have obviously reduced. “[We are also seeing that] bookings are more complicated and corporates are doing more price shopping, however, the confirmation times are shorter when the event is to take place. [There are also] less luxury events.” But despite the present slump in business activity, TCEB is forging ahead with new strategies to attract corporates and associations to meet in Thailand. One of the organisation’s most recent strategies has been to forge a national alliance, thereby creating a united front from which to attract business. TCEB senior manager, Puripan Bunnag explains TCEB has formed an alliance with Bangkok and Pattaya, signing a Memorandum of Understanding that boosts Thailand to the status of an international MICE destination. “With a tourism and business event infrastructure that, by international standards, is extremely well developed, it is certain that Bangkok as the capital city, and Pattaya, at the centre of the eastern region of the country, will attract both domestic and international MICE travellers, driving the Thai MICE industry to the forefront of the global market,” he said. Together with boosting Thailand as a “MICE city” to promote its dynamic and motivational attributes, TCEB has initiated “Thailand’s clustered marketing strategy” which has demarked five regions: Bangkok/Pattaya, Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai, Nakon Ratchasima/ Khon Kaen, Cha-am/Hua Hin, and Phuket/Krabi/Phangnga. To support the initiative, TCEB has produced a new eye-catching 174-page “Venue Variety” directory with full information about Thailand business event facilities in each location. In addition, TCEB has developed marketing packages entitled “Meetings More Memorable and Meetings Plus” to target smaller groups of 25-50 delegates from long-haul markets by offering value added golf, spa, welcome receptions and cultural shows. As part of its marketing communications strategy, TCEB emphasizes testimonials from organisations with first-hand experience of holding business events in Thailand in recent times. The emphasis on building trust via testimonials is part of TCEB’s “Thailand Moving Forward” campaign under the government policy which the Prime Minister, H.E. Abhisit Vejjajiva has endorsed. “With all strategies of marketing and communication working together we believe that we can reinforce Thailand as a dynamic and motivational business event destination in Asia,” Mr Puripan said. “The initiatives have been launched to rebuild confidence, add real value to meetings and incentives clients, and give assurances to event organisers who are considering Thailand again.” At IMEX in Frankfurt earlier this year Mr Puripan told media that new laws and safeguards were in place to protect the country’s airports and meeting venues. “New insurance policies in place for all international visitors should give business event organisers and tourists additional peace of mind,” he said. TCEB now estimates that the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry in Thailand will bring in 41 billion baht (US$1.24 billion) this year and attract half a million participants. To learn more about Thailand for meetings and incentives visit www.tceb. or.th. ABOVE: Forward thinking (and some quiet reflection) should see MICE business in Thailand rebound in 2010. miceAsia.net 21