How to better serve Indian and Russian tourists as well as tech-savvy travellers, areas the tourism industry needs to focus on.
With the political situation stabilised tourists from around the world are returning to Thailand.
Russia is set to become the first European country with one million tourist arrivals in one year (Read article).
The upswing in tourism presents new challenges.
Russians and Indians are large and growing groups of tourists that tourism operators must become more familiar with.
Tech-savvy tourists are another emerging important market segment.
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Indian, Russian marketing needs refining
Thailand's hotels, tour operators and meetings companies need to move their marketing from the national level down to city, language or demographic niches if they want to be more successful in reaching tourists from India or Russia, say industry experts
Backpackers these days are just as likely to arrive on Khao San Road with a laptop, tablet or smartphone and they need to know they can stay connected, say travel experts.
Industry operators need to avoid the "sin of over-generalisation" and closely observe visitor behaviour in order to create rewarding travel experiences that visitors will talk about when they go home, said Prof Philip Pearce of James Cook University in Queensland.
He made the comment in an address to 50 industry leaders including TAT executives at a seminar held by the local chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) in Bangkok on Monday.
"Listen to the stories they tell and don't just rely on satisfaction indexes," he said. "Successful marketing now requires the ability to provide an 'experience economy' that is in tune with generational changes, sustainability and new technology.
Prof Pearce said that "techpacker havens" were increasingly important - places where travellers, luxury or budget, can plug in social media devices, use large screens, hold Skype conversations with families back home, download music and service mobile and social devices.
Monday's seminar focused on a market Pata has dubbed the "RICHI" countries - Russia, India, China and Indonesia.
Ravi Bhatia, director of Indian Host, an India-focused hospitality group in Bangkok, called for Thailand and India to "reconnect" their deep historical and cultural similarities.
"The number of Indian tourists visiting Thailand could easily double in two or three years," he said.
However, Thais need to pay more attention to Indian culinary and wedding needs. "Tofu isn't found in any Indian restaurant," he said. "And don't present vegetarian food to look or taste like meat - Indians will not choose it.
He recommended that Thailand concentrate on the Indian wedding market and having Bollywood films made on location in the country
Andrey Snetkov, the contract and marketing manager of Pattaya-based TEZ Tour, which specialises in the Russian market, said 90% of trips to Thailand were still arranged by Russian travel agents as the online booking and credit card networks in Russia were still not trusted.
He lamented that many Russian travel agents lacked first-hand experience of Thailand so their recommendations to clients were frequently ill-informed. Familiarisation trips for travel agents are an important way to remedy this.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Indian, Russian marketing needs refining, 14/07/2011, link)
Travel Industry Vocabulary
travel agent - a person who works at a travel agency (skilled in providing travellers with the services they need such as transportation, hotel and tours)
travel agency - a business that "sells travel related products and services to customers on behalf of suppliers such as airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, hotels, railways, sightseeing tours and package holidays that combine several products. In addition to dealing with ordinary tourists most travel agencies have a separate department devoted to making travel arrangements for business travelers" (See Wikipedia)
booking - making an arrangement or "reservation" for a future flight (an airplane seat)
online booking - making a booking over the internet (no contact with travel agent or trip to travel agency)
tour (noun) - a package tour, a planned trip with many tourists that visits interesting places (sightseeing at tourist attractions), includes hotel, transportation, tour guide and food (See Wikipedia)
tour operators - companies that sell packaged tours to tourists
tourist attraction - "a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities" (See Wikipedia)
tour guide - a person who brings tourists to tourist attractions and shows them around, and "provides assistance, information and cultural, historical and contemporary heritage interpretation to people on organized tours, individual clients, educational establishments, at religious and historical sites, museums, and at venues of other significant interest. They (normally) have a recognized national or regional tourist guide qualification, also known as a "tourist guide" (See Wikipedia)
refine - changing something in small ways to improve it
refinements - small improvements
refining marketing - changing the marketing and promotion of a company's products in small ways to increase sales
savvy - knowing a lot about something (at a practical level)
tech-savvy - knowing a lot about computers, internet, mobile phones, etc
market segment - a group of similar customers with similar needs (example: the teenager market segment, the yuppy market segment, the senior market segment, etc)
political situation stabilised - the end of sudden unpredictable changes in the political situation of a country
upswing - when the business situation improves or prices in a market such as the stock market improve
national level - for the whole country
demographic - regarding the population of a country or area (See Wikipedia and also see Wikipedia on demographics of Thailand)
niche - a niche market, a small group of customers with special needs
a demographic niche - a certain special part of the population (women, older people, families, etc)
city, language or demographic niches - special markets of people who: 1. all live in the same city, 2. speak the same language, and 3. share something else in common
backpackers - tourists spending small anounts of money (budget travellers) who typically carry their things in a backpack rather than a suitcase and stay in places like Khao San Road and Koh Pang Ngan
sin - an action, thought, or way of behaving that is wrong according to religious laws บาป
generalise - state a rule that holds for many cases, some statement that is true in most situations for most people (but may not be always true = exceptions)
exception - a case for which a rule is not true
over-generalise - make a statement (example: All farang have long noses and eat lots of bread all the time.)
avoid the "sin of over-generalisation" - meaning: do not overgeneralize, it's a bad thing to do
observe - to watch or study someone or something with care สังเกตการณ์
observe visitor behaviour - watch what tourists do (in order to learn about them and serve them better)
rewarding - giving a reward, especially by making you feel satisfied that you have done something important or useful, or done something well ซึ่งให้ผลตอบแทน
rewarding travel experiences - something useful, important or memorable that a person does when they are travelling
comment - remark or opinion, telling what you think or what your opinion is about an issue หมายเหตุ แสดงความคิดเห็น
address - a formal speech คำปราศรัย
executives - a high level manager in a company (making plans and ensuring they executed successfully) ผู้บริหาร
Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) - a membership association working to promote the responsible development of travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region (See Wikipedia and website and Thailand chapter)
local chapter - the smaller part of a large organisation in one country or city, for example
provide - to give someone something that they want or need
in tune with - to know about and follow current practices, customs, traditions of a certain group of people
out of tune with - not in tune with
generation - an age group, a group of people about the same age (example: your grandfather's generation)
generational changes - changes and differences between people of different ages (who grew up in different times, when practices and customs were different)
in tune with generational changes - being able to serve different age groups (generations)
sustainability - situation or activity can continue for a long time
haven - a place that people like to stay at (where they feel safe and comfortable)
techpacker havens - a place where backpackers with computers and devices like to stay
luxury - the best and most expensive of something ที่หรูหรา
budget - for people who only spend small amounts of money
dubbed - given a name ตั้งฉายา, ตั้งชื่อเล่นให้
hospitality - friendly and welcoming behaviour towards guests
hospitality industry - the tourism industry (hotels, restaurants, travel agency services and tours)
India-focused hospitality group - a tourism company that serves mainly Indian tourists
similarities - features or parts that are the same when comparing two different things
double - to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า
culinary - about cooking; connected with cooking or kitchens เกี่ยวกับการทำอาหาร
concentrate - to give most of your attention to one aim or activity เพ่งความสนใจไปยัง มุ่งไปที่
Bollywood films - films made in India, in Mumbai, India's Hollywood is called "Bollywood" (See Wikipedia)
contract - a written (or oral) agreement that is legally binding สัญญา
lamented - expressed sadness and disappointment about something
first-hand experience - to know about it by doing it yourself (not just hearing it "second hand" from other people)
informed - know a lot (about a subject or topic)
ill-informed - having the wrong information (not knowing a lot about a subject and have the wrong information, about a subject or topic)
recommend (verb) - to tell (suggest, advise) to other people what they should do
recommendation (noun) - suggestions or ideas about what to do (given to other people)
ill-informed recommendations - suggestions that are based on the wrong information
frequently ill-informed - often do not know what they are talking about, have incorrect information
clients - (formal) customer ลูกค้า
familiar (adjective) - knowing a lot about something, from experience
familiarisation (noun) - the process of learning more about something (by experiencing it for yourself)
familiarisation trip - a free trip given to travel agents for them to learn about a place that they will be selling tours to, also called "fam trips"
remedy - correct, make a bad situation better