The 14th Thailand Travel Mart Plus ended on 5 June, 2015, after a successful three days of business discussions, familiarisation tours and educational forums designed to raise the profile of the “2015 Discover Thainess” brand campaign, create more networking opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises, promote new provincial and regional destinations, and encouraging interest in niche-market products.
Organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the country’s largest B2B travel trade show, known officially as the TTM Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion, also saw the launch of a new strategy to better position Thailand as a Muslim Friendly Destination.
An analysis of feedback forms evaluated by TAT in cooperation with Acorn Marketing and Research Consultants indicated high levels of satisfaction with the quality and diversity of the entire programme, the potential business expected to be generated as well as the pre- and post-event tours. A summary of preliminary results indicate the following feedback:
TTM+ 2015 occupied a large event space of exhibition hall at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok.
The event was attended by 378 buyers from 52 countries (+10% or 35 buyers) over TTM 2014. Of these 172 (45.5%) were first-timers and 206 (54.5%) were repeaters. Most of the buyers were from China (41), the United Kingdom (27), Australia (21) and India (17). Buyers from China showed special interest in joining the TTM Plus every year. Overall, buyers showed keen interest in the new niche-market products; such as, weddings and honeymoons and health and wellness. They also saw great opportunity for developing packages linking Thailand and its neighbours in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
The number of sellers totalled 372 (-7%, or 27 sellers) over TTM+ 2014. A breakdown by category showed that 73% of the sellers were from hotels and resorts and 7% tour operators / travel agents. A total of 80 sellers were first-time participants, and 292 repeaters. The survey showed 41% of the sellers reporting higher sales projections this year over last year as a result of their participation in the TTM+. Fourteen exhibitors were from the GMS countries.
The four pre-TTM+ tour programmes provided an opportunity for 49 buyers and media to survey new tourism products and services in Bangkok and the surrounding areas. The most popular routes were the “Experience the Slow Life of Old Bangkok”, “Experience Street Food Tour” and the Bangkok Night Ride (Biking Tour). This reflected the growing demand for experiential tourism and was entirely in line with the theme of TTM+, “Experience with Us.”
A number of media briefings were held by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, Yunnan Provincial Tourism Development Committee, Cambodia and Myanmar. Another media event was a presentation on ZEB’s River Journey by National Geographic. All of them underscored Thailand’s growing transportation linkages with the Greater Mekong Subregion, and the role of one of Asia’s best-known rivers in facilitating travel and tourism in the region.
On 5 June, the last day of TTM+, TAT organised an event to unveil a strategy to better position Thailand as a Muslim Friendly Destination. In the morning session, 95 buyers and media catering to Muslim clientele from 13 countries heard comprehensive lectures about the readiness of Thai tourism products and services to cater to the Muslim market. TAT also launched a new Mobile App as a handy guide for Muslim tourists to find places of interest. In the afternoon session, the buyers and media met with 92 Thai tourism operators to discuss business opportunities. The visitors were also taken on tours covering 10 routes nationwide to survey products, facilities and services for Muslim tourists.
TAT Acting Governor Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa said, “This year’s TTM+ was carefully designed and structured to send a message of confidence in the full-scale recovery of Thai tourism after the downturn of 2014 and further energise the 2015 Discover Thainess campaign going into the second half of the year. We believe this strategy has worked well. The response from buyers, sellers and media has been more than satisfactory.”
She said that the keen interest by buyers from China will ensure that Thailand meets its quantitative visitor arrivals targets in the years to come. Hence, this will require TAT to shift its attention towards better nationwide dispersal of tourists and growing their average length of stay and daily expenditure. Both these latter strategies are being met by the launch of new promotions focussing on the “12 Hidden Gems” and strategies directed at niche-market segments; such as, culinary tourism, health and wellness, weddings and honeymoons, sports tourism, marine tourism, green tourism, etc.
Mrs. Juthaporn said, “The sellers also indicated that the amount of time slotted for the business appointments should be longer than 15 minutes. Both buyers and sellers also mentioned the need for a free Wi-Fi Internet service. All this will certainly be taken into consideration for the TTM+ 2016.”
“We are more than satisfied with the successful outcome. The input and feedback will help us become more focussed in preparing our marketing plans for 2016. It is clear that we have to work on a retention strategy for existing customer segments and new-acquisition strategy to probe new countries and emerging markets. This will be the way going forward”.
“We would like to thank the entire Thai tourism industry as well as our airline partners and all the public and private sector organisations for their invaluable support and cooperation in helping to advance the cause of Thailand’s largest foreign-exchange earning service industry,” Mrs. Juthaporn said.