How Thailand’s hoteliers are reaching and converting guests from Asia and beyond

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Thailand has always been considered one of the top 10 tourist hubs in the world. Two years of political unrest and other disturbances in 2013-14 threatened, on paper at least, to derail some of this prolonged success.

However, 2015 saw the hotspot recover quickly and now hotels are converting more guests than ever before.

The Grant Thornton Thailand Hotel Survey: 2016, Expedia, and the Hotels and Hospitality Group reveal some key statistics about Thailand tourism and why hotels are seeing even greater results than in the past.

Here are some of the most interesting figures:

Occupancy levels and tourist volume

Average occupancy in 2015 rose above 70% and was 76% for four and five-star hotels, representing a 10% increase on 2014 despite a jump in the amount of rooms provided. This comes on the back of a record 30 million international visitors entering the country. With the numbers set to increase this year, occupancy levels are expected to be higher again when the next survey data is available.

Regional segmentation

Three regions stood out in terms of growth. Expedia reports a 70% year-on-year increase in Chang Rai, followed by Pattaya on 60% and Hua Hin at 40%.

Bangkok took in the most new visitors with 15.7 million and over 1300 new rooms, almost as many visitors to the entire country in 2010 (15.9 million).

Guest segmentation

Chinese travellers and other Asian guests were the source for most inbound tourism. As many as 25% of all visitors were Chinese while other travellers from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam also flocked, meaning the Asian totals were well ahead of European numbers (18%).

Hotels were also busy with domestic tourism, with Thai travellers the third largest segment, beating out the Middle East and the Americas.

So, how did guests book? And what are hotels doing to attract guests?

OTA bookings lead the way, but not by much. In four and five-star hotels 31% were booked via an OTA, while 27% were booked directly, indicating that the billboard effect is alive and well. As many as 52% of travellers were reported to visit a hotel website after using an OTA.

Traditional travel agents still account for a quarter of all bookings.

So what are hotels doing differently to attract such a large volume of guests to their properties?

They’re generating demand with incentives

Many hotels in Thailand are focusing on using extras and packages to entice more guests to book.

They give the guest a sense of value-for-money and convenience, and the evidence is there to say that travellers respond positively to these offers.

They’re embracing the digital age

As it becomes clearer that technology is one of the most important sectors in the travel industry today, Thai hotels are recognising this and reacting.

A 73% increase in expenditure on technology and digital marketing was reported for 2016 budgets, while only 10% said they would decrease.

They’re respecting the rise of mobile

Figures show the demand for mobile browsing and booking technology doubled in many regions while some grew even more. Hotels are responding to the need for integrated booking engines and mobile optimised websites.

When asked about the importance of future investment, hotel websites ranked at 67%. And when asked about the importance of developing further, online booking engines ranked at 78%.

Despite being a tourism juggernaut, Thai hoteliers aren’t resting on their laurels. They understand the dynamic nature of the industry and are rolling with it, making sure their distribution is a strong as possible to reach and convert more guests online.

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