Thai MICE players worry in lieu of challenging year ahead

Thai MICE players think that 2020 will be challenging for business; Silom, downtown Bangkok pictured

MICE stakeholders in Thailand feel that this year will be a challenging year given that a strong Thai baht, as well as global political factors such as the US-China trade war tension, will lower both inbound and outbound client budgets, pushing them to choose cheaper destinations.

Due to international economic volatility in the form of US-China trade tensions, intense room rate pressure in Thailand, and the currency appreciation of the Thai baht, “long haul travellers from Australia and European countries – especially from Scandinavia, Germany, France and Italy –” have decreased, stated Dave Chang, managing director, Asia MICE Planner.

Thai MICE players think that 2020 will be challenging for business; Silom, downtown Bangkok pictured

Addy Ritthirong, managing director, Eventage (Thailand), agreed: “The strong Thai baht has also directly impacted travel destination trends, with many clients (skipping Thailand and going for) something new, and giving less costly destinations such as Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia a shot.”

“Although very strong demand continues to come from Asian feeders led by India, Malaysia and Singapore, the number of quality travellers has dropped, and this extends to MICE,” added Chang.

And this is coupled with the decrease in a majority of his clients’ budgets. Chang revealed: “The majority of our clients’ budgets have dropped more than 30 per cent when compared to 2018-2019. Many three- and four-star local chain hotels and resorts have gained more bookings from FITs and group tours; and are now being chosen over five-star international chains.
(It is no different for the MICE market), where corporate clients are prioritising good value and often find a solution in local resorts who are able to fulfil their budgets.”

“Clients have tighter budgets this year, (and as such are) scaling down the number of delegates or even shortening the length of their stay. In contrast, their demands and expectations are higher. They shop around direct from the end-user, and through event planners and organisers, in order the get the cheapest costs,” Ritthirong noted.

However, Christian Stoeckli, general manager of Diethelm Travel Thailand, remains optimistic, estimating that clients’ budgets for MICE travel should be at least the same as in 2019 or even higher. But Stoeckli admitted that budgets and plans could be easily affected by global issues ranging from Brexit in Europe to heightened tension between US-Iran.

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