Thai hospitality is world-class and this has made the kingdom a go-to destination for India MICE visitors. In an exclusive interview with Nichapa Yoswee, Senior Vice President – Business, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau, talks about how Thailand is making it safe for business travelers.
How do you see Thailand re-emerging as a Meeting Destination for the Indian market?
India has been Thailand’s top three source markets for 12 years (2008-2019). Their confidence in Thailand has really contributed to the vibrancy of Thai MICE industry. We would like to thank our Indian clients and value their choice of Thailand. Of course we will always dedicate ourselves to crafting the products and services to meet the requirements of our clients.
As health and hygiene have become the norm due to the COVID-19, Thailand has proven itself as the world’s best performer in addressing the pandemic, according to Global COVID-19 Index (GCI). The stringent hygiene measures of the government, the collaboration of Thai people to prevent the infection and the widespread implementation of health protocols among MICE operators have resulted in the government’s approval for MICE to restart with no limit on the size and maximum attendance. Such positive development is a clear indicator that the Thai government is placing importance on MICE industry. Business traveler is among the first priority groups the Thai government is considering for future entry into the Kingdom.
Likewise, it is an obvious sign that Thailand can become a safe destination, where responsible gatherings with care and wellness of the delegates being a high agenda can be organized. In sum, Thailand is ready for the “new norm” meetings when the sky for international travel is open. Apart from that, Thai MICE suppliers are now designing and offering complimentary packages that organizers can maximize to make a return on investment after the pandemic has eroded their financial viability in organizing events.
Being considered one of India’s leading Outbound MICE markets, do share the new meeting products in Thailand that would interest PCOs and Corporates?
Thailand is a destination noted for constant development of new products and incentives to meet shifting demands of MICE travelers. We have so far 7 Magnificent MICE Themes in all 5 major MICE cities and their adjacent provinces to answer different requirements. The themes include fascinating history and culture, exhilarating adventures, treasured team building, CSR and green meetings, beach bliss, lavish luxury, and culinary journeys. When overseas businesses are put to a halt, TCEB never wastes time but takes it as an opportunity for new development for future business. We are developing more products under 7 Magnificent MICE themes for meeting and incentive groups that will enrich our choices of products and services even more.
Where do you position Thailand as a viable MICE destination post the Covid-19 situation?
Thailand can become a safe destination capable of organizing responsible gatherings. Our rating as top tier in the pandemic recovery is attributed to the fact that health is a genuine people matter in Thailand. The Kingdom has taken health and hygiene to its heart and of course, this will translate into extra care we will be extending to our future guests because travel industry has been our core engine of economic growth. We will, thus, exert our full force to ignite its recovery. The government has now designated domestic meetings as a vehicle in driving the economy and we believe it will apply to overseas MICE when the ban on international travel is lifted.
To ensure prospective clients of safe destination, TCEB has co-developed MICE Hygiene Guidelines with stakeholders in the private sector for Thai MICE suppliers to practice and follow. The guidelines finally won the approval of the government to restart MICE business with no limit and are now practiced widely among Thai MICE entrepreneurs. Apart from that TCEB has launched COVID-Free Meeting Project, subsidizing venues in acquiring tools, equipment to execute health protocols including educating staff. As of now, over 200 venues across the country have applied for this project.
On the part of the government, they have launched “Thai Chana” (Thai Win), a smartphone application to facilitate safety for both establishments and customers as a New Normal lifestyle. In addition to standard measures such as wearing masks in public, hygiene sanitization and thermal scan, Thai Chana will help to indicate whether or not the shop is congested so that customers can determine whether to use the service or move it to another business. Shops and utilities may be tested by the public to see whether or not they meet safety measures. This application is also extended to events, the use of public transportation, and more.
Safety will be on top of Thailand’s other attractive attributes. Convenient accessibility which has been one of our advantages will be enhanced in the near future with the construction of new termin
al at Bangkok airport being over 60% completed. The country’s rich choices of premium venue, accommodation and world-class attractions remain our key strength, while government support for business events will always be our priority. Thai MICE suppliers are eagerly waiting to meet clients with a variety of new offer on the list. Our constant contact with Indian market will open a wider opportunity for our collaboration to make future Indian business events a higher success.
TCEB had recently launched an incentive scheme for the Global Meeting Industry. How can Indians make use of this opportunity?
TCEB is acutely aware that the pandemic has put budgetary constraints for future business events and that meeting is a matter of people meeting people. Thus, we have initiated “I M People Focused” campaign underpinned by “Ease UP” Collaborative Financial Grant for meeting and incentive travel organisers. TCEB provides support fund while 63 Thai suppliers (DMCs and hotels) offer complimentary activities and accommodation. It is one of the most attractive incentive schemes we have ever crafted with over 60 suppliers across Thailand joining in the offer.
The EASE UP campaign, thus, offers a wide array of privileges at a scale one hardly experiences before. Imagine wealthy choices of complimentary products and services, apart from financial grant of TCEB.
The EASE UP belongs to our flagship mantra called I M People Focused (Incentives Meetings People Focused). It drives our belief in people, in sharing experiences and in the power of responsible gatherings. We focus on the success of meetings and incentive activities because everyone matters. This aims to ease up the organisers’ budget constraints and effectively help their clients lower the event cost.
High-value group packages for the campaign consist of complimentary airport transfers along with local sightseeing or teambuilding or CSR activities offered by 8 DMCs, while 55 hotels in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Khao Lak, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Khao Yai and Rayong will reward organizers with complimentary guestrooms. Terms and conditions apply for all Ease Up grant applicants. This support is valid until June 2021 with application before the end of March 2021. For more information on EASE UP Grant, please contact our Indian representative, Mr. Nitin Sachdeva at firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides, India has been among the leading participants in international trade shows in Thailand. They can maximise our new campaign “Re-Energise Exhibitions” which has been crafted around 4 core “E” elements to help shore up the industry in continuing their business. Ease Up raises fixed financial subsidy of up to 25 per cent for both local and overseas marketing across all event sizes, supports remote international participation and reduces event size to be qualified for support. Experience supports business interaction through online or hybrid methods, and supports site inspection for virtual shows, including fund for hygiene management. Enhance promotes exhibition in target industries relating to Thailand 4.0 economic policy, as well as those identified by the government as post-COVID-19 focus industries. These include future automotive; robotics and automation; medical hub; food processing; defence/disaster and pandemic management. Empower is designed to engage government collaboration by easing regulations, facilitating growth and giving regional industry a boost through pavilions at trade shows in Thailand. Moreover, we have included a new group, exhibition sales agents, into the list of applicant for support under the existing Exhibiz in Market campaign while overseas MICE travel agents are included in ASEAN+6 Privilege campaign.
What are your inputs on the Indian MICE market and your marketing plans here in India?
We believe during crisis, communication is the key to keep and strengthen our relationship. Our focus at this point is to continue our conversations in the market and remain visible until the situation recovers. In preparation to welcome Indian MICE travellers back to Thailand, we produced a series of 20 Thailand MICE Product Update videos to showcase and update venues to the Indian market. The videos were launched on YouTube channel with 1,280 subscribers as of 10 August and 26,000+ viewers. Each video garnered over 1,000 views. This will be followed by another series of NEW NORM NEW MICE product update videos to help Thai venues, DMCs and attractions to promote their new products and services to the market.
We will also do multiple sessions of Digital Think Tanks to brainstorm with our Indian planners and focus on building relationship with the clients to understand their needs and be able to assist them once the travel starts again.
Of important note is we have now redesigned our annual flagship event “TIME” to suit the new normal conditions and would like to invite our Indian clients to join in. The knowledge exchange element on September 24th will be a hybrid event providing latest industry insights and trends. The business exchange of the 2020 edition of TIME, from September 25th – 30th, will be a virtual B2B event for the first time which will attract industry colleagues from around the world to best serve mid-term and long-term industry purposes.
What are the safety programs for the Meeting Industry in Thailand to receive groups?
Thailand has been rated 1st for COVID-19 recovery index, according to Global COVID-19 Index (GCI). Thus, the country started to ease gathering restrictions including organising events in gradual phases to assure the safety of the people. In this connection, TCEB played a key part by working with the industry partners and key stakeholders in designing with MICE Hygiene Guidelines (please refer to http://www.micecapabilities.com/mice/uploads/attachments/MICE_Hygiene_Guidelines-_ENGLISH.pdf). The guidelines were finally approved by the Ministry of Public Health for event venues, organisers and participants to implement and follow, which will ensure that pre-event practices, on-site instructions and post-event procedures will pose no health risks.
So far, the country has eased border restrictions by allowing 11 types of travellers to enter the country under strict hygiene protocols from their points of entry into the kingdom throughout their exit. A person can be tracked and traced under Mor Chana (Doctor Win) application, which offers a contact tracing solution that enables smartphone device users to perform self-assessment and determine the risk level of infection based on exposure and travel history. It is designed to track the spread of the novel coronavirus, prompt quick and accurate public health responses, and ensure effective and measurable social distancing measures. Upon the entry to an event or an establishment, a person will then be required to check in using Thai Chana application. (please refer to Thai Chana detail in Question number 3). Other health certifications and hygiene practices implemented nationwide will also assure the safety of MICE travellers into the country.