Business events stakeholders in Bangkok are looking forward to the rest of 2022 with optimism, as restrictions ease. The Thai government is also set to announce the move to an endemic status come July 1.
Paitara Chaochalard, managing director of PCO Neat Event and Consultant, is confident that “things are only going to get better from here onwards”.
“The last two years were a struggle, and we’ve had to learn to adapt and pivot to virtual events. One good thing to come out of the pandemic is hybrid events, which has opened up a new offering for us,” she told TTGmice.
Similarly for Paula & Co, the DMC also had to pivot to virtual meetings, which has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“We were able to conduct virtual MICE training for university students, as well as organise small corporate meetings,” shared Sirichet Thanomphant, Paula & Co’s business development manager.
“We will continue to organise hybrid meetings, but as for the incentives business, I am hoping to recover some shorthaul business from regional countries,” Sirichet added, adding that the DMC recently confirmed a 500 pax incentive group from a South-east Asian country, hailing from the luxury sector.
While event companies turned to virtual events, hoteliers shifted their attention toward the domestic corporate and leisure markets to ride out the pandemic.
Nattanicha Benjabut, senior director of sales, Thailand, Hilton, shared: “Business (for Bangkok properties) was very bad (the past two years), and we survived on the leisure market and small domestic meetings.”
But as borders reopen, she said Hilton stand in good stead for recovery, as international hotel brands are favoured among event planners for their own health and safety standards.
Just like Sirichet, Nattanicha’s focus for the year will also be on the shorthaul events market, especially those with direct air access to Bangkok.
Over at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, international business is slowly picking up, shared Nuntiva Wirotworachai, director of sales. The property is currently “fielding many requests” for events planned to take place from July. At the same time, domestic luxury companies, as well as banking and finance firms, have continued to demonstrate a willingness to spend on events.
However, Karnrawee Jongwattanasawat, senior sales manager – MICE, Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok, indicates that the industry is a long way from full recovery.
One of the challenges, she stated, was that Bangkok is usually not the first choice for domestic groups, as compared to resort destinations like Phuket, Pattaya, and Hua Hin, so they have had to work harder to win business.
“There are too many hotels in Bangkok, and competition is tough. Companies that are stuck here want to get out instead,” Karnrawee said.
Fortunately, as borders reopen, more international requests have started streaming in, and the first international corporate group to stay at the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok this year was a group of 20 Singaporeans.
When asked to predict when the longhaul market would make its comeback, both Sirichet and Nattanicha pointed to 2023 and 2024, while Nuntiva projected 2024 and 2025.