Luxury hotels thriving thanks to revival of Mice market
The uneven tourism recovery has been highlighted by lower-end hotels' struggle to catch up with five-star properties, which have greatly benefited from the return of the Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) market.
Thai Hotels Association (THA) president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi said that while the hotel industry is gradually recovering, operators still have to brace for uncontrollable external factors, led by war and a possible global recession.
She said four-star and lower hotels were being impacted more than five-star establishments as the latter had gained momentum from the Mice market, particularly from businesses or group meetings involved with next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) gathering in Bangkok.
The health of the Mice segment was expected to be strong during November, before seeing lower numbers next month due to several holidays.
Mrs Marisa said the government should continue its support by helping state agencies hold meetings and conferences in the provinces, as many hotels in non-tourism areas rely on public sector meetings.
The average hotel occupancy rate across Thailand this month stands at 52%, an increase from 49% last month, but still lags behind the pre-pandemic level of 70%.
However, bigger and well-known brands are securing much better rates than smaller and independent hotels.
Phunut Thanalaopanich, president of THA's northern chapter, said a stronger recovery for luxury properties was occurring in Chiang Mai, which was overwhelmed with local tourists.
Mr Phunut said luxury room rates stood at around 3,000-4,000 baht, which was affordable for many Thai tourists.
Meanwhile, the Mice segment has become a new target for operators in Chiang Mai as the city has its own international exhibition centre, he said.
In the fourth quarter, Mice accounted for about 10% of the hotel market, with most of them booking four- or five-star establishments.
Those included a group of thousands of participants from industrial factories in Bangkok.
THA's northern chapter is cooperating with the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau to accelerate the growth of the Mice market, focusing on domestic Mice business in particular.
In terms of benefits from Apec, Mr Phunut estimated only 10% of attendees would travel to Chiang Mai.
Most of them would more likely choose Pattaya as part of their post-Apec tours due to it being a shorter distance from Bangkok.
Chiang Mai hosted the Yi Peng Lantern Festival and Loy Krathong in several locations this week, which helped raise the average hotel occupancy rate to 85%.