Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
The number of Indian MICE travellers to Thailand have almost doubled from 2008-2009 to 2012, which saw almost 80,000 Indian MICE visitors to the country. Almost 65 per cent of MICE travellers to Thailand are from Asia, and within this number India tops the list. “India is the biggest source market in Asia with 26.8 per cent of MICE travellers. China is number two followed by Japan and then Korea,” stated Vichaya Soonthornsaratoon, director, Meeting Incentive & Convention Department, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB). She added that India is becoming TCEB’s first tier destination for doing marketing, and is one of the focus countries for promotions.
In 2014, TCEB is expecting 10 per cent growth in terms of revenue from this market. “The demand and potential is there, with the increase in number of flights between both countries, this growth is achievable,” said Thanabodee Hemsuchi, regional manager, Meetings Industry Department, TCEB.
Many MICE groups are from tier II and tier III locations across India. “We have been receiving groups from places like Coimbatore, these are smaller groups but with high yield. What growth we have achieved is with the help of repeat customers. Almost 60 to 70 per cent customers are repeat, they always want to upgrade their experience and are willing to pay more for better value,” mentioned Nitin Sachdeva, marketing manager, India Representative Office, TCEB.
There are a few MICE Series destinations in Thailand that are promoted in the market, for instance Bangkok, Pattya, Phuket, Chaing Mai and Koh Samui. Thailand as a destination has already been attractive to Indian travellers – it was popular for leisure and MICE came later. “The hospitality market in Thailand is geared up for big groups from India. Many hotels have Indian chefs and train their staff for handling Indian delegations. Our hospitality sector is alert about preparing themselves for large Indian groups,” mentioned Soonthornsaratoon. She points out that one MICE group is different from one another. “There are often tailor-made programmes, in Thailand service is quite flexible, we talk to the customer first and then see how can we support them – from cultural performances to creating events for them,” concluded Soonthornsaratoon.