TAT seeks marketing bright spots in difficult global tourism environment


The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has unveiled a multi-pronged strategic marketing campaign for 2009-10 that will build on the country’s long-standing strengths, such as its geographical location, value for money factor, good image, and excellent range of products and services.

The strategies range from stepped-up, online-marketing efforts focusing on social media to short-duration packages targeted at nearby and neighboring countries and intensive pursuit of new markets and niche products.

The strategies and campaigns were unveiled to the Thai tourism industry private sector at the end of TAT’s annual marketing plan meeting on June 29. This period is particularly important for TAT, which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in 2010.

TAT deputy governor for international marketing Mr. Santichai Euachongprasit invited the private sector to help TAT improve the marketing efforts by presenting ideas and initiatives to capitalize on prevailing opportunities and trends in the wake of one of the most difficult market conditions the country has ever faced.

Specific forecasts are being avoided due to the fluidity of the domestic and international situation, but TAT is projecting a better global and local environment in 2010.

Said Mr. Santichai: “Three key factors are impacting on visitor arrivals to Thailand. They are the global economic downturn, the country’s political situation, and the H1N1 flu. People have become more cautious about spending on leisure and business travel.”

To reinforce Thailand’s well-entrenched position as a renowned cost-effective destination, TAT will maintain the “Amazing Thailand Amazing Value” campaign.

Mr. Santichai said TAT plans to open two new foreign offices this year in Kunming and Mumbai. These will tap into the massive potential of two of the world’s most populous countries, India and China, both of which are within four hours flight from Thailand.

In 2010, TAT will open a new office in Jakarta to build on the intra-ASEAN market and also tap the potential of the ASEAN region’s most populous country, Indonesia.

“Boosting the activities of the overseas offices, as well as all our sales and marketing representatives, is going to be a major focus of attention,” said Mr. Santichai.

A key part of the effort to combat the fallout from media coverage of temporary political developments will be to step up the number and frequency of fam trips for both media and travel agents. This is designed to instill confidence among the opinion-shapers and those who influence decision-making of travelers, that Thailand remains a safe and secure destination, momentary disruptions notwithstanding.

TAT will also seek to work with TV stations abroad to boost well-informed and objective documentaries on Thailand. It will also maintain the focus on positioning Thailand as a value-for-money shopping destination.

Among some of the other key marketing strategies:

Make better use of social media like youtube, flickr, myspace, facebook, and twitter. Testimonial interviews will be conducted with visitors to Thailand and posted online. According to Mr. Santichai, “This reflects the undeniable change taking place in the tools of marketing.” He said that many of the TAT offices abroad now have their own online websites.

Taking advantage of short haul to Thailand based on accessibility and convenience. Thailand will be positioned as a short-break destination for 72-hour trips over long weekends in key markets like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. TAT has introduced 72-hour travel program booklets for several provinces including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hua Hin, and Pattaya.

Boost Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) efforts by building on the membership of the Amazing Thailand Card. This is based on the understanding that those who hold such cards already have an affinity with Thailand and will appreciate receiving communications about special offers and holiday opportunities.

Strategic alliances will be forged with marketing partners such as credit card companies or any others with a large membership database to build confidence and stimulate the market.

Invite more celebrities to visit Thailand and capitalize on the positive media coverage that will generate.

Boost word-of-mouth referrals by motivating visitors and Thai residents abroad to recommend Thailand to their friends.

Highlight special interest products, like the golfing, wedding and honeymoon, and health and wellness markets. Mr. Santichai said Thailand’s unique selection of boutique and poolview properties are perfect for these high-spending markets and enhance the country’s competitive advantage. New products will also be launched such as cycling tours to scenic destinations in the provinces.

Seek new markets. Although TAT has a direct presence in many countries, it will move more intensively into new markets such as the Central Asian Republics, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and even Iran.

Also this year, a major effort is to be made to boost domestic travel through increased support for local travel shows and trade events.

According to Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, deputy governor for policy and planning, “We believe that domestic travel will grow in [the] future as it offers relief to people during times of crisis. If they are stressed out, they travel to take a break and relax, and if they are afraid, they don’t travel overseas.

“Domestic travel will also be positioned as a means of helping the country during these difficult times by spreading income and creating jobs within the country itself. The government’s policy to hold more of its own meetings and seminars in upcountry destinations will also help,” he said.

Contact information:
International Public Relation Division
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2250 5500 ext. 4545-48
Fax: +66 (0) 2253 7419
Email: prdiv3@tat.or.th
Web site: www.tatnews.org

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