While Royal Cliff Hotels Group is taking a different approach to charm domestic event buyers, CEO Vitanart Vathanakul continues to lead his teams on innovation and diversification to be ready for a rebound in international business
Thailand has decided not to reopen its international borders this year for most inbound and leisure tourists. How can MICE players move forward strategically and with confidence?
We are all going through a very uncertain period. What makes it more difficult is that we cannot plan ahead as no one knows when this pandemic will end. However, the MICE and hospitality industries have shown amazing resilience.
The government has a range of support and relief assistance for tourism businesses and operators, (and we) have been very cooperative with all its programmes. (There was a) significant number of hotels and guesthouses that participated in the We Travel Together campaign as well as the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification project.
Moving forward, MICE venues must be more flexible and dynamic with their business models. Venues must also be in constant touch with their guests and customers to understand their concern and address those issues. Right now, the focus is on the domestic market.
How different is the domestic MICE market from the international ones?
The Thai MICE market is more price-conscious, more inclined towards modern venues and accommodation, and has shorter lead times. Taking into account that delegates of these groups will be travelling locally, venues need to ensure that ample parking spaces are available.
As Thai people tend to travel with their families when attending local events, venues with wide-ranging facilities would be more attractive.
Finally, venues have to keep in mind that the local market is more conscious of safety standards and would feel safer in venues that abide by the governmentâ€™s safety requirements. Receiving the SHA certification and achieving the Thailand MICE Venue Standard can greatly enhance the confidence of both local event organisers and visitors.
What is Royal Cliff Hotels Group doing to attract domestic business events?
We have developed Royal Cliffâ€™s Prevent and Protect Program, which consists of strong measures that would assure planners that our venues are safe. We are also using the government app Thai Chanaâ€¦to help with (contact tracing).
We have upgraded our technology infrastructure to support video conferencing. We are entering an era of hybrid meetings where people meet physically and virtually (so) we have designed our meeting rooms and venues to accommodate this style of events.
As a large resort with abundant spaces, we facilitate outdoor meetings and functions. Such setups eliminate concerns of being around other participants in an enclosed space. For those who prefer to stay in their room and attend the functions virtually, we have supporting in-room technology, be it Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangout. We also have fast Wi-Fi speed for online meetings to run smoothly.
Our accommodation and meeting packages are offered at very competitive rates.
Whatâ€™s the biggest lesson you have learnt during this period?
We need to continually improve our digital knowledge and diversify. We are using this time to explore new business models, experiment and try new things by asking ourselves what we are good at and how we can take that online. During the lockdown, we built a platform for online food delivery and was able to gain significant revenue from this new initiative.
Another important lesson is to be flexible and never give up. There is always a way out if you persevere.