Pandemic gives Elite Card an unforeseen sales boost

Pandemic gives Elite Card an unforeseen sales boost

Somchai Soongswang, president of Thailand Privilege Card Co, says Elite Card sales have jumped among foreign tourists.
Somchai Soongswang, president of Thailand Privilege Card Co, says Elite Card sales have jumped among foreign tourists.

Thailand Elite Card sees the international travel ban and worldwide pandemic unexpectedly increasing demand for long stays in Thailand, with membership sales now soaring.

Thailand Privilege Card Co (TPC), the operator of Thailand Elite Card, has sold new membership cards mostly to international tourists who have been living in Thailand the past month, said Somchai Soongswang, president of TPC.

He said normally 60% of sales would come from foreign customers living abroad, but since the government imposed the emergency decree at the end of March and a ban on inbound flights for all of April, the majority of new customers are tourists who still reside in Thailand, mostly from the US, Britain and Australia.

"Most of them are elderly who have confidence in Thailand's health care system," Mr Somchai said. "As the travel restrictions have made it difficult to sell membership cards to customers living outside Thailand, we have shifted our strategy to this group that has strong demand."

While acknowledging that travel restrictions in Thailand and origin countries are affecting existing customers because they cannot visit Thailand, TPC is considering solutions to compensate them later, such as extending membership to cover losses from unavoidable causes.

During the first half of its fiscal year, from Oct 1, 2019 to March 31 2020, TPC recorded revenue of 815 million baht, up by 9% year-on-year. New membership cards rose by 7% to 1,322.

The most popular card is the 500,000-baht "Elite Easy Access" that provides a renewable five-year multiple-entry visa with extendable one-year length of stay per entry.

Of the total members, Chinese customers comprise the largest portion at 30%, while sales to citizens of the US, Britain and Australia are increasing.

Hong Kong is an emerging market with retirees seeking asylum in Thailand to avoid the chaos from recent political unrest.

The Japanese market is sluggish because of safety and security concerns following the mass shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima, followed by the spread of coronavirus.

TPC expects this fiscal year the number of cardholders will surpass 10,000 for the first time, despite the pandemic.

"We maintain our projection of an additional 1.5 billion baht from at least 2,500 new memberships this year," Mr Somchai said.

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