Lockers, naps and technology for tourism
Commuters and visitors alike can take advantage of the latest conveniences added to the city
Foreign tourists and urban commuters can enjoy new services ranging from locker storage to in-room online services and nap lounges at airports.
These facilities are common in several countries where tourism plays a large part in the economy, but have been slow to arrive in Thailand.
The services are projected to be part of a 10-year trend that will continue to grow in Greater Bangkok, soon expanding to major tourist destinations such as Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.
Lock Box expanding
Ithichai Poolvaraluck, founder and chief executive of Lock Box Co, the locker storage operator, said the company plans to increase Lock Box storage stations in Bangkok from 22 to 30 this year, mostly in shopping malls, mass transit systems and convention halls.
The company aims to expand business into other provinces such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya as well as major airports and shopping malls by the final quarter of 2019.
"I realised Bangkok is one of world's most visited cities, but it does not have locker services like other top destinations such as Tokyo, Paris, New York and London. Lock Box was born with the mission to serve all mass transit riders such office workers, students and foreign tourists," Mr Ithichai said.
He formed the company in 2016 and opened the first storage at Makkasan station. Since then, the company has invested a total of more than 35 million baht. It operates 22 Lock Box stands in 14 locations in Bangkok. The minimum service charge is 20 baht per hour.
"When I first opened Lock Box, 70% of customer were foreigners, but now over 70% are locals. This is a new trend for urban dwellers and part of a 10-year trend globally," Mr Ithichai said.
The company served 5,000 customers in 2016, its first year of operations. The number increased to more than 20,000 last year and is expected to reach 25,000-30,000 this year.
Lock Box also provides other services such as luggage transfer service between BTS Siam station and Suvarnabhumi airport, as well as parcel and shipping services.
The company will offer more services, including mobile membership, which is set to launch this month.
Airport sleep boxes booming
Airports operate round-the-clock, with people coming and going at all times and many travellers preferring to take naps or rest at the terminal in privacy while waiting for flights.
In order to meet demand, Sleep Box by Miracle Group has invested over 60 million baht to build a sleep capsule hotel covering 750 square metres at Don Mueang airport.
This move is an effort to take on the increasing numbers of travellers due to visit Thailand this year, up to 37 million from 35 million last year.
Aswin Ingkakul, president of Miracle Group, said the first Sleep Box was launched on March 14, 2016 and this new expansion has been designed to provide an optimal solution to passengers who need a short rest.
Sleep Box provides 60 rooms. Each room covers 18 sq m with modern decor and full equipment, including an en-suite bathroom, and can accommodate two guests.
Room rates for the first hour are 500 baht, 300 baht for each subsequent hour and 2,500 baht including breakfast for an overnight stay from 8pm to 6am the next morning.
For people who do not want accommodation, access to shower rooms only is also available for 300 baht.
A television and WiFi are provided. International restaurants and aroma therapy massages are also available.
Miracle Group has an array of services at Don Mueang airport, including Miracle Lounge in both international and domestic areas, Miracle Co-working Space, Magic Garden and Magic Food Point.
At Suvarnabhumi airport, which sees up to 100 million passengers a year, there is also a sleep capsule hotel. Boxtel, managed by businessman Pongthorn Laohavilai, offers hourly rates for a simple place to rest with lockable rooms, WiFi and refreshments.
Introduced in 2016, Boxtel has become popular among foreigners. The sleep box hotel added 12 more rooms to its existing 26. The 16 sq m rooms have laptop and WiFi connectivity.
Boxtel is located in the basement of Suvarnabhumi airport, close to the Airport Link, with a minimum room rate of 650 baht for two hours and 300 baht for every additional hour.
The arrival of digital room service
Another new service has arrived in Bangkok, with Hong Kong-based Tink Labs Ltd, the operator of integrated mobile devices for hotels, expanding into the Thai market to offer the hotel amenity features to more than 140,000 hotel rooms this year.
Mr Ithichai realised mass transit riders in other cities use storage lockers.
The company entered the Thai market late last year, and is offering the mobile platform "Handy" to more than 100 hotels, or about 20,000 rooms, mostly in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya.
Tink Labs plans to add the platform to more than 120,000 rooms within this year, mostly in major tourist destinations, including new areas such as Koh Samui and Krabi province.
The move is to help strengthen the hospitality industry as it is faced with an influx of international visitors by leveraging the convenience of technology as well as increasing revenues and marketing effort for hotels at the same time.
"Handy can help operators to reduce daily operational cost by 16 to 66 baht per room per day, depending on package the use. It also helps increase revenue by 3-4% per room per day," said Terence Kwok, Tink Labs' founder and chief executive.
The platform is available in 80 countries around the world, covering 600,000 hotel rooms and is accessible for 25 million global travellers.
Handy has penetrated hotels in Hong Kong (40% of the total market), Singapore (60%), Tokyo (65%), and London (30%).
Last year Handy was introduced in Japan, and has expanded into 200,000 rooms within the first year.
Mr Kwok said hotel operators can offer complimentary smartphones that are seen as part of the hotel's amenities, elevating a guest's experience during their stay. Each smartphone is offered local and international calls, and unlimited internet data to explore freely during their stay.
"With the rise of technology, access to travellers' behavioural data, including interests is readily available. Having new products will help hotels to stay ahead of the competition and create a satisfying experiences for the guest," he said.
Call-to-action features like "push messaging" allows hotels to further promote hotel facilities and services such as meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition offerings as well as food and beverage offers.
In the near future, Tink Labs will debut the platform in other emerging countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
Sleep Box at Don Mueang airport offers travellers varying rates depending on their length of stay.
Sleep Box rooms at Don Mueang airport provide extremely compact facilities for a quick rest.