Hotels are upbeat about gaining more bookings from tourists and the Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) segment following the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Bangkok.
Supachai Punja-apisith, director of sales and business development for Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort and Avani+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel, said while neither property is an official Apec hotel, their riverside location should enable them to benefit from the summit.
Guests who engage with Apec and arrive before the summit or stay longer for travel purposes are the targets, he said.
In the fourth quarter, Mice guests accounted for 40% of total guests, higher than the 35% recorded in 2019, with Thai and international guests accounting equally for the remainder.
Domestic guests stayed on average for four nights, while foreign guests stayed up to eight nights, said Mr Supachai.
He said the two hotels, located next to each other, have 22 meeting rooms and can accommodate a maximum of 1,000 people, more than Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, the preferred hotel for Apec under the same chain, Minor Hotels, as that property can accommodate a maximum of 400 people.
Mr Supachai said short-haul Asian markets including Hong Kong, Singapore and India have been the main target for Mice because of the short flight duration.
Given the baht's weakness against the US dollar, this benefits only US travellers as European currencies have not changed much compared with the baht since Covid-19, he said.
At a recent meeting in Las Vegas with tourism operators in the US, Minor Hotels received inquiries for Mice activities in Thailand in the third quarter of 2023, said Mr Supachai. The key obstacle for the short term is airfares, which are 30-80% higher than before Covid-19, he said.
The government should allocate more budget for tourism promotion organisations such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau to efficiently boost appropriate markets, said Mr Supachai.
"Thailand has many unique selling points for the Mice segment. These include a variety of cultures from around the country, exhibition venues in different locations, Thai food and dedicated hotel services," he said.
Thailand also has lower living costs than regional competitors such as Singapore, with the same relative level of safety.
New markets such as Vietnam and India trying to compete in the Mice segment might not be able to ramp up growth to the same level as Thailand, said Mr Supachai.
Hotels in Bangkok managed by Minor report 30% of guests are Thai, with foreigners accounting for 70%. In Pattaya and Hua Hin, Thais make up 45% of total guests, as they mostly travel by car from Bangkok during the weekends.
Both Anantara properties are part of Minor Hotels, under Minor International Plc.