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Bangkok’s luxury riverside hotels form a unique marketing coalition

April 22, 2014 Destination Thailand, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59In a commendable instance of concerted and strategic marketing, eight luxury hotels along the Chao Phraya riverside have come together in what is called the ‘Bangkok Riverside Marketing Partnership’ (BRMP).  The hotels are, namely, the Anantara Bangkok Riverside & Spa; Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok; Mandarin Oriental; Millennium Hilton Bangkok; The Peninsula; Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside; Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers and the Shangri-La.

At a press conference held on the 18th April at the Shangri-La to announce the launch of the BRMP website, apart from the respective general managers (aside from the Chatrium GM who was travelling) Thailand’s tourism and MICE sectors were well represented in the form of Mr Sugree Sithivanich, Deputy Governor Marketing Communications, TAT; Mr Sumate Sudasna Na Ayudhya, President, TICA and Mr Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, President TCEB.2014-04-18 12.25.18-1

This marketing initiative has been in the planning stages for almost the last eighteen months, the objective of which is to position the riverside as the primary leisure and MICE destination within Bangkok. Between them, these eight hotels have 4,152 rooms and suites; 43 restaurants; 17 bars; 13 ballrooms; 112 meeting rooms; 12 swimming pools and eight fitness centres and spas to offer. The GM’s were careful to emphasise that they still operate as independent brands and retain their individuality however, for purposes of better promoting the riverside as a choice MICE destination within Bangkok, they have aligned together to form this coalition.

It is also hoped that the BRMP will enhance the on-going tourism recovery activities by TAT, TCEB, TICA and the BMA. To this, Mr Nopparat said TCEB would fully support this launch. He praised this innovative trend by the riverside hotels and said TCEB was happy to help and discuss MICE opportunities with them. Mr Sugree graciously thanked all the general managers for this particular effort in a bid to promote Thailand. He further informed the audience that TAT was soon launching the ‘Thailand BFF’ (Best Friends Forever) campaign. Mr Sumate of TICA said that he was impressed by the use of the word “partnership” because it underlined the commitment by the eight hotels. “Your efforts here will not only enhance the riverside but Bangkok in general, and put Thailand on the world MICE map,” he concluded.

Keith Hardie, GM, Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, will be heading the BRMP. In a Q&A session between the media and all the general managers, Hardie said the riverside hotels already cooperate a lot with each other and the idea now was to compete with citywide conventions and bring them to the riverside; “We’ve got something for everybody,” he said. Nikolaus Priesnitz, GM of the Anantara, already runs a successful river cruise boat and he is confident that the partnership will only serve to enhance the overall riverside experience offered. J. Edward Brea, the new GM of the Shangri-La, is passionate about CSR activities such as cleaning the river and helping the riverside communities and schools to prosper. Said Amanda Hyndman, GM, Mandarin Oriental: “Individual hotels have been active on CSR but the benefits of coming together will be stronger.” All the GM’s feel that location, flexibility and accessibility are the USP’s of this partnership. “There are many little things happening; we want to merge them together to be more impactful. We have a fantastic location that is easily accessible by land, river or air – those with no time but with a budget to spare can take a helicopter from Suvarnabhumi airport and be here in just ten minutes,” said Katja Henke, GM Peninsula. Said Klaus Sennik, GM of the Ramada: “We will be pooling our knowledge and engagements to promote and make BMRP a successful experience.”

Exactly how this partnership is going to work and what nature it will take is something none of the GM’s are sure of yet. It is reliably learnt that one of the plans in the pipeline involves giving guests an F&B kind of passbook; once they have eight stamps, they will receive a souvenir. Said Dirk De Cuyper, Regional General Manager Thailand and General Manager Millenium Hilton:” We have a unique proposition and essentially, we are promoting the location and our partnership. Today we are just announcing the launch of the website. We will be discussing with each other further as to the details. Our expectation is to get more exposure from the media.”

Bert van Walbeek of Winning Edge is the coordinator of BMRP. Answering a media query on whether these hotels would undercut each other in terms of pricing, for example with wedding business, Henke said that all such queries pertaining to BMRP would go to Walbeek and he, in turn, would throw this business open for the hotels to bid for.

With the major tourism and MICE bodies of Thailand backing the BMRP partnership, it certainly looks as though a whole new chapter  has been set in motion for Bangkok and one trusts that other, smaller hotels all around the country will emulate this revolutionary marketing tactic.  It is to be hoped that BMRP will be successful in achieving its objective of not only endorsing the riverside as an attractive option to MICE operators, but in cleaning up the Chao Phraya, an activity that is sorely required.

Written by Punam Mohandas

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