Uncertainty to fuel Elite membership

Uncertainty to fuel Elite membership

Political situation causing concern

Thailand Elite Card is expecting to gain a large number of new members, mainly Chinese business people residing in Myanmar who might not be confident about the political situation there.

Somchai Soongswang, president of Thailand Privilege Card (TPC), the operator of Thailand Elite Card, said Chinese customers account for 25% of the total portfolio of 13,000 members.

The military coup in the neighbouring country has fuelled unease among foreign investors as they seek a more secure place within close proximity of their businesses.

"Prior to the coup in Myanmar, the bulk of Chinese members had already relocated to Thailand and decided to buy a condo to stay in the country for the long term, particularly in Chiang Mai which is closer to the mainland," said Mr Somchai.

TPC predicts this trend will be repeated when the Chinese -- Myanmar's largest contingent of foreign investors and trade partners -- consider a place to stay while Myanmar faces another political transition.

He said the applicants must meet all qualifications to apply for the Elite Card, while the screening process would be of the same standard as applicants from other countries.

To facilitate the flow of members who streamed into Thailand recently, TPC has set up a new operational centre at Chiang Mai international airport, having already established a branch in Phuket -- another poopular destination for European members of the scheme.

Mr Somchai said there are about 3,000 members residing in Thailand at this time.

Each Thailand Elite member stays five months on average, while expenditure is around 3,000 baht per day. Last year, they contributed around 1.3 billion baht to the economy.

To maximise spending, TPC also opened a new service unit, member relationship, aiming at giving advice on tourism activities while residing in Thailand.

"The sales rate still rose consistently amid the outbreak as we allowed new members to pay early-bird prices first but they can choose to activate their status when the situation here improves," said Mr Somchai.

Despite the severe outbreak in January, another 550 new members were added to the system.

TPC set the annual target at 2,600 new members [its fiscal year started on Oct 1,2020], but as of Jan 31, it already secured 2,066 new deals.

In 2020, it posted profit of 310 million baht, partly because of lower monthly service costs as fewer guests could come to Thailand during the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, the company had to pay at least 9 million baht per month for premium services, such as limousine services and spa services.

TPC still has accumulated losses of 240 million baht as it faced many interruptions during the past. The accumulated losses peaked at 1.4 billion baht in 2009. Mr Somchai said this year will be the first time TPC will be able to clear those retained losses.

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