Thailand Needs to Cater Better to Millennial Travellers

From left to right: Bill Barnett, MD C9 Hotelworks, Gavin Vongkusolkit, MD Heritag Estates Co. Ltd. and Vorasit Issara, Manading Director Sri Panwa Hotels.

Millennial travellers are the new breed of tourists who are now the main engine of consumption in travel. Considered “geek” (experts or enthusiasts in technological fields) and well-informed, these travellers are looking for new experiences that Thailand will need to adapt to. Especially by redefining the travel concept and by turning its back to old-day tourism products, explained during Thailand Tourism Forum two young Thai entrepreneurs, Gavin Vongkusolkit, Founder and Managing Director of Heritage Estates which operates Ad Lib Hotels and Vorasit Isssara, Managing Director of Sri Panwa Hotels, a company of Charn Issara Group.

Thailand tourism is lucky to offer one of the most mature and complete range of products when talking about the promotion of a destination. Especially as tourism will not escape a massive “chinafication” of its tourism due to the continuous rise of Chinese visitors to the Kingdom. “Chinese visitors have become the oxygen for growth abd with a rise in independent, wealthy travellers, it is time for the industry to look beyond the tour groups and refine its approach to all the key Asian source markets”, analyses Bill Barnet, Managing Director of C9Hotelworks, a consultant company specialized in hotels, tourism and real estates based in Phuket.

“Trends are for example changing quicker than before and we have to adapt to rapidly emerging wishes from travellers. For example, Korean honeymoon is out but individual romantic getaways are in for China. This is the kind of evolution that we must track permanently”, indicates Gavin Vongkusolkit.

A quick evolution in infrastructure, the development of new air links are also reshaping the tourism map in Thailand. “I see for example Phang Nga or Khao Lak but also Ranong rapidly emerging these days. It is due to the high power played by social media. There is no need anymore to promote our products through traditional marketing and advertising campaigns. As long as we come out with a good product, we then get good reviews such as the ones on TripAdvisor. We then get the market. Technology changed all the ways we think promotion”, adds Gavin Vongkusolkit.

“I also learn totally through social media about places to hang around and discover. However, as an hotelier, I think that it is time now for us to become more competitive in quality service. And what I mean by this is not just providing help and be service-minded in hotels. It is to bring to staff product knowledge. There is a huge effort to be done in human resources by explaining how to go further to anticipate tourists expectation. Such as knowing exactly in a restaurant where our products come from and how they can be matched by a specific wine; or by advising travellers to visit a place due to some specific characters. This is a long-term task”, explains Vorasit Issara.

High-end Chinese tourists have high potential to drive tourism growth for Thailand because they are familiar with the many attractions of the Kingdom and now look for new destinations”, describes Mr. Issara. SriPanwa is looking now to invest in Phang Nga as well as Petchaburi to cope with a demand for new luxury destinations.

” In a world of instant updates and ever-changing travel technologies, trends and attitudes, it is more important than ever to be an innovative player in the industry”, tells Bill Barnett.