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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to be an Expat in Thailand

OK, try riding your motorbike, one hand holding an umbrella, the other hand sending an sms, steering with your knee and then suddenly dropping everything to offer a quick wai to a roadside spirit house before crossing four lanes of traffic to make a sudden U-turn because you forgot to pick up your girlfriend and she's going to wear a sulk longer than it takes to explain the concept of 'money back guarantee' to a Thai businessman.

by Peter Melzer - we have published an article created by auswathai forum user

Remember.... T.I.T. This is Thailand

For sure, Thailand can be quite strange and newcomers find themselves conducting all sorts of cultural charades and going berserk trying to figure out some of the crazy habits of the locals.

Don't ask us why they eat ice-cream sandwiches, or drink their beer with ice. Never sleep with your head facing west, duck when you walk in front of people, paste yourself in skin whitening cream… there are all sorts of strange beliefs here.

Seal of Bangkok.Luckily Bangkok allows you to keep a foot both in the Eastern and Western world. An increasing number of Thais now speak English, especially in the services industry, and there are all sorts of clubs, groups and activities that suit ex-pats. Of course, you should make the effort yourself to learn the language and etiquette of Thailand and assimilate into Thai social circles to truly appreciate the place.

One important consideration if you are planning on living here is that it's not perfect. The Thai way of life is quite different to what you may have experienced back home and they have their own, sometimes strange, way of going about things. In fact the Thai here in Bangkok are incredibly good at some things, but can be quite unsatisfactory at other things we may expect or take for granted back home.

Useful Links
1. Forum Thailand - this article - add comment or see other articles about Thailand people/culture/land
2. WA Thai Community - Thai Culture A to Z 
3. Business Networks - Aussie and Thai - click here 
4. Best E Networks Aussie and Thai - click here

Sunday, July 25, 2010

AustCham Thailand Members are Populating in Longdo

Australian Commerce has a substantial presence in Thailand.

It's why so many Australian owned/managed venues are populating across the Longdo Map
click on the photo expand
Reporter:  Phill Smith

It wasn't until we were introduced to AustCham Thailand that we discover the prominence of Australia, as Business owners and/or Managers. So with the help of the ever enthusiastic people of Longdo we embarked on a "Joint venture project" to populate Aussie Venues on Thailands Longdo Map.

Finding Aussie Venues became a "Needle in a haystack"

All known Aussie Govt., agencies we approached but they had no interest in the concept (most drew the curtain of "privacy laws"?  What the !  where talking about Business not Facebook!

We got tired of submitting writing requests (no one reads the content) and receiving the standard template response ... refer this (faulty website).  So what's is the job satisfaction?  "mai ben rai"

Fortunately we had some good luck, we found AustCham Thailand.

I had not idea just how substantial Australian Busines in Thailand is until I glanced at the AustCham Thailand website.
Their Key Features:
Promotion of business between Australia and Thailand
Representation and dialogue between AustCham, Thai Government and other business groups
Providing a dynamic networking, social and sponsorship platform
Community Services

The AustCham Management and staff have been a constant source of energy and synergy. Whether your a visitor on Business or Social their DOORS ARE OPEN. It's a productive culture and the reason I became a member. 

The highlight has been the AustCham's people network, it's quite remarkable! The monthly sundowners are the talk of Business Bangkok, it's a must do event.

The opportunity to meet the Expat community on a quality social platform is a credit to the organisers, it's clear evidence of their success. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

TAAWA 30th Birthday Party - don't miss out

This year is the celebration of 30th years service to the Community!

The party is in September 2010 and promises to be fun for all


Many of us could not get tickets to previous events.. don't delay get your ticket now!

Friday, July 23, 2010

AusWaThai - linking Thailand and Perth W.A. "mid year report for 2010"

Our mission is populating all things good for bilateral links Thailand and West Australia.

Our FREE Community resources has helped many people locally and abroad. Evidence of our success is measured by the substantial growth of our Forum and we have now opened up other medium channels.
We are constantly inspired by your "thank you"

One of the vertical drops on the KrakenThe last 6 months was a roller coaster adventure, political unrest in Thailand (Grossly sensationalised by the Media) and 3 year long over heating Economy in W.A. so at one end everyone needs work and at the other end there are no staff!

Anyway as "Julia will foolya says "moving forward"...

We have short listed a progress report in our Newsflash Page

Appreciation is always appreciated
Please jump on board, select one of the many FREE subscription options to "keep in Touch", the options are noted in the newsflash report.    Link to 6 Mid year report - click here

Take Care

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Public Transport in Perth W.A.-การขนส่งสาธารณะในเพิร์ธ

Perth has two bus terminals in the city. The Wellington Street bus station is approximately 200m from the train station and services the northern suburbs. The City Busport is at the bottom of Mill Street on Mounts Bay Road next to the Esplanade and services the southern suburbs.

Both terminals have easy to follow information about times and routes as well as an information booth to answer your questions.

Late night buses leave at midnight, 1:00am and 2:00am every Friday and Saturday night from Wellington Street Bus Station going to Mirrabooka and Morley (northern suburbs only). After dark the buses will stop anywhere.                  
Report by Arwee
Thai Student studying in Perth W.A.

เพิร์ธมีสถานีรสบัสประจำทางในเมืองสองแห่ง คือสถานีเวลลิงตันบริการในส่วนชานเมืองตอนเหนือของเพิร์ธประมาณ 200 เมตร จากสถานีรถไฟ และ สถานีซิตตี้บัสสปอร์ตบริการในส่วนชานเมืองทางใต้ ตั้งอยู่สุดถนน Mill Street ที่ถนนMounts Bay Road ถัดจาก the Esplanade.คุณสามารถศึกษาข้อมูลของทั้งสองสถานีได้อย่างง่ายดาย เช่น ตารางเวลาบริการของรถ,เส้นทางการเดินรถประจำทาง และการสอบถามข้อมูลต่างๆ. รถประจำทางรอบสุดท้ายเวลาแล้วแต่สายรถประจำทาง ตั้งแต่เที่ยงคืนถึงตีสอง ทุกๆวันศุกร์และวันเสาร์ช่วงค่ำเฉพาะรสบัสประจำทางตอนเหนือจะบริการตั้งแต่สถานีรถบัสWellington Street - Mirrabooka – Morley.ช่วงค่ำๆรถประจำทางจะจอดที่ไหนก็ได้.

CATS (Central Area Transport Systems) is a free bus service which operates in the City Centre and Fremantle. They only stop at CAT stops, which are marked with the colour of the bus and a black cat insignia.

•The blue CAT travels north/south between the Barrack Street Jetty on the foreshore and the Northbridge district. They run every 8 minutes on weekdays and every 15 minutes on Friday nights. At weekends you can catch one every 12 minutes.

•The red CAT travels east/west between East Perth and West Perth. They run every 5 minutes on weekdays and every 45 mins on weekends.

•The Fremantle CAT travels around the Fremantle area only. From Monday to Friday they run every 10 minutes during the day, and every 8 minutes on weekends. There are additional services on Thursday and Friday evenings.

แคท(บริการเฉพาะในเมืองเท่านั้น)ค่าบริการฟรี เดินรถในเมืองและในFremantle.รถแคทจะจอดที่ป้ายรถเมล์ที่มีสัญลักษณ์ของแมวสีดำและสีของรถแคทเท่านั้น

- รถแคทสีน้ำเงินเดินรถทางเหนือ-ใต้ จากBarrack Street Jetty ถึง the Northbridge.
- รถแคทสีแดงเดินรถทางตะวันตก-ตะวันออกของเพิร์ธ มีรถวิ่งทุกๆ 5 นาทีระหว่างสัปดาห์และทุกๆ 45 นาที สุดสัปดาห์.

- รถแคทFremantleจะเดินรถแค่ในFremantleเท่านั้น รถวิ่งทุกๆ10นาทีระหว่างสัปดาห์ และทุกๆ8นาที สุดสัปดาห์ ในช่วงเย็นของทุกวันพฤหัสบดีและศุกร์จะบริการรถเพิ่มขึ้น.

There are four train lines:
•West to Fremantle
•East to Armadale
•North to Joondalup
•East to Midland

All of the trains meet centrally, at the Perth Railway Station, which is across the road from Forrest Place.

สถานีรถไฟ 4 สาย
•ทางตะวันตก - Fremantle
•ทางตะวันออก -Armadale
•ทางเหนือ - Joondalup
• ทางตะวันออก- Midland
รถไฟทุกสายจะผ่านสถานี the Perth Railway Station ในเมือง ตัดผ่านถนนจากForrest Place

Monday, July 19, 2010

Australia Pledges priority funding links with Thailand

The Australia-Thailand Institute (the Institute) was established in mid-2005 to promote bilateral relations with Thailand and to expand institutional, cultural and people-to-people links.

Report by Phill Smith

Wherever possible, the ATI seeks to expand people-to-people and institutional links through programs, partnerships with other organisations and seed funding of projects to enable them to grow.
The Institute seeks to target the next generation of leaders in both countries across a broad spectrum of backgrounds from the arts and business, cultural and community groups.

Department of Foreign Affairs and TradeThe Institute comprises an Advisory Board with between 5 and 8 members appointed by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and a Secretariat provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The current Board Members are as follows:
Mr Mike Courtnall (Chair),  Mr Doug Hall, Mr John Hancock, Mr Michael Laverty, Mr Jim Middleton,
Mr Sidney Myer, Prof Abdullah Saeed, Ms Gillian Bird (DFAT Ex-officio member)

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephe...The mission of the Australia - Thailand Institute is to advise the Australian Government, through the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on broadening and deepening the relationship between Australia and Thailand and to undertake and support programs that strengthen links between Australia and Thailand.

The ATI's goals are:
To contribute to the development of Australia's economic and political relations with Thailand;
To broaden awareness and understanding in Australia and Thailand of each other's culture, values and traditions, including sport
To promote increased people-to-people contacts between Australia and Thailand.
To support Australia's broader diplomatic objectives in Thailand.

Funding Priorities: youth; regional Thailand and long-term linkages

At the first Board meeting (17 February 2009) the Board determined the focus for ATI projects will be youth exchanges, programs that involve activities in regional Thailand and programs that will produce long-term links between Australia and Thailand.

The ATI awards grants through a competitive selection process. The ATI will fund programs in three Priority Areas:

Public policy (including democratic governance, public administration and trade and economic reform) Education Culture and the Arts, including sport.

If you have any suggestions or a desire to seek a grant further information is available on the ATI Website.

The page that provided notes for applicants

You are also encouraged to make contact with the Secretariat at the following address:
Ms Alison Purnell,  Secretariat Manager
Australia-Thailand Institute
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,  RG Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent,  Barton ACT 0221 
Phone: +61 2 6261 3202  Fax: +61 2 6261 2342

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bangkok is 101% yummy every Tuesday Night

Jeff Hardy performing a low dropkick on Umaga....Shuffling down Soi 19 last week I noticed something very odd …

A Posy of Thai onlookers watching Three Englishmen working!

Something was wrong !
It contradicts Western Management principles "hard work never hurt any supervisor"

The venue was the ever “loud” Bangkok Rocks, described by owner and renowned Social Ambassador “Billy Cove” as "the Music venue”.

I slipped in an observed the talents of the three musketeers, Billy, Benny and Ruskie.

Whoomp! (There It Is)It turns out these fanatics of music were applying a makeover for the first gig of Yummy tech 12, a new regular Tuesday night feature at Bangkok Rocks.

The theme is by the synergy from the partnership of "Beat Box Ben" and "Rebelling Raunchy Russell", no they're not tag team wrestlers, mere mortals dedicated to cranking party tune themes for a good of mankind. 

Reporter: Phill Smith

These two Englishman are wired for sound and spirited sensations (spirited means knock out drinks).

The Makeover had me curious?

Bangkgok Rocks received a makeover only last month, transposing her inner sanctum into a Romantic Cave with a new colour combo that inspires your inner workings.

The dark colours from above and Volcano Red walls delivers a stunning effect in stark contrast to what was sterile shades of white.

The new look tickles your breathe with romantic tones and those big lounge booths compliment the feeling of privacy.

So with the cave of delight already looking just right I wondered what these boys were doing with all their tradesmen's tools and scaffolding. 

The tag team were imposing a Yummy culture creating dazzling effects for tonight’s premiere.

The Best of Tag TeamThe lads scuttled up and down ladders applying Banners, testing sounds blasters and fired up a simulation of star wars  lighting gizmos and then came the music ..

Yep it was stereophonic, megatonistic, squelching and twitching, yet it all infused to a dynamic theme at the hand of the seasoned DJTech 12 Pro, Mr Ben.

The spread word and the faithfulls arrived
The crowd was a mix of young and not so young but never too old and loads of Yummy smiles.

The DJ sounds were stylish and entertaining and the drinks was flowing.

It's fair to say, based on Bangkok's present Tourism drought (post May 19 bomb fire night) the volume of patronage was evidence of a successful night.


Bangkok Rocks featured in Exec Tours Website - Click here

Our Bio on - Bangkok Rocks

Longdo Location Map printable in English and Thai

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thammasat is the gateway for Education Australian

Australian Coat of Arms (adopted 1912)
Australian and Thai universities collaborate together across a wide range of research and teaching areas that involve over 40 Memorandums of Understanding; Thai and Australian education departments share information regarding policy and education system developments; economic trade between Thailand and Australia has increased nearly 300 percent since their Free Trade Agreement came into effect; and Thailand hosts approximately 700,000 Australian tourists each year.

Garuda as national symbol of ThailandClearly, Thailand and Australia’s relationship is strong, multifaceted and offers many benefits for both countries. ThammasatUniversity (Rangsit,PathumthaniProvince) understands the potential role of universities in fostering this relationship and, hence, was keen to host the Australian Studies Centre of Thailand at their Rangsit campus.

The Commission o­n Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand, which also provides supporting funds for the Australia Studies Centre’s operations, recently selected ThammasatUniversity as the Centre’s host university.

The Centre is part of a wider strategy of the Commission o­n Higher Education to develop and support a range of area studies centres within the university sector to encourage a better understanding of Thailand’s international partners amongst the general Thai society.

My Karachi University ( Public Administration ...For example, the Commission aims for the Australian Studies Centre to promote and support the teaching and research about Australia in Thailand, and also to provide a range of information services o­n Australia for the Thai community more generally.

Associate Professor Chulacheeb Chinwanno, Vice Rector for International Affairs at ThammasatUniversity, said the Centre will act as a contact and information resource for the Thai people, and also bring together Thais and Australians people with common interests and concerns.

‘The Australian Studies Centre is essentially about helping Thai people understand Australia better, so that when they conduct business or other interactions with Australians, they have an insight into their background, lifestyle and the way that Australians are likely to think,’ Dr Chulacheeb said.

The Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science ...Based at ThammasatUniversity, the Australian Studies Centre will conduct its activities through a network of university partners from all over Thailand, acknowledging Thailand’s relationship with Australia as a national initiative.

Mr Mike Courtnall, President of the Australia-Thailand Institute in Canberra, Australia, which supports institutional and people-to-people interactions between Australians and Thais, recently visited Bangkok to meet with executive staff at ThammasatUniversity and to learn more of their plans for the Centre.

Teaching excellence
Some of these planned activities include: a web-based knowledge database for Thais seeking further information o­n Australia; the writing of Thai language text books and teaching resources o­n Australia: the establishment of a network between Thai and Australian researchers; and a number of public seminars and workshops o­n issues where Thais and Australians may learn from each other’s experience.

The Centre will be led by Dr Suphat Supachalasai who will be Centre Director and who is an AustralianNationalUniversity alumni specialising in international trade.

His Excellency, Mr. Paul Grigson, Australian Ambassador to Thailand said the Centre and its university partners can play an important strategic role in further enhancing the harmonious political, economic and social relationship of Thailand and Australia.

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Together we can at The Sportsman Bar Bangkok

Pattaya: Kathoeys on the stage of a cabaret show.

Everybody's talken about that new Rack in Town!!

How do ya turn a well used Ladyboy Cabaret venue into well oiled sports venue and a popular place where "Together everyone can"......

The lads (yes it's owned by the U.K.) have got it sorted ! 
Situated on the main Drag of Sukhumvit a few hundred metres from the BTS skytrain station Phrom Phong.   Be careful, the venue is recessed about 100 mtrs back from the main road so if your flashing along in the taxi you will miss it.  The location is "Washington Square"  opposite Soi 31 (not easy to cross the busy Sukhumvit) so  tell the taxi driver to go to "Benjarsi Park" (almost next door) or try Emporium Shopping Mall (see the listing in Longdo Map for bearings - it's printable in Eng & Thai). 

Pictured below - Phill Smith with owner Paul Hatch

The expansive and substantially unused undercover entrance is clear evidence this venue served as a cabaret venue. A quick glance to the left as you step up and you can see the stair way leading to what was no doubt the VIP room, where the hiso (high society) gained best vantage point for the glincy spectacle of the boys in drag... anyway that's my slant .. ask Paul he might tell you the truth (hahaha this is liairland)  

I ventured upon this venue by chance!  Our crew had just visited Benjarsi Park collecting touri pics and decided to walk along Sukhumvit for a stretch and I'm glad I made the effort.

To be offering such Freebies suggested there may be a little trouble capturing patrons but once we stepped inside the atmosphere was one that captured an enjoyable culture and it was apparent it's a genuine loyalty program. 

On the left is a quiet dinning area where patrons can relax in a choice of private booths or open bar stools. All decor is a calming blend of cave brown and smooth vintage Red. The colours are elegant for dining and whilst the choice of western food on Que the kitchen crew delivered perfection with stunning Thai food.

The prices are reasonable and the serving is generous!

 Picture below Staff from The Sportmans Bar Bangkok 

Staff left to right Gan, Duan and Jane

Khun Duan served us with the undeniable "Thai Smile" .. I remember mummy used to say ... "the food always taste nicer with a smile" .. it's so true!

Duan has been part of the  team for the past 7 months and speaks proudly of her home (most Thai workers are 50 + hours a week.  I asked Duan... why do you like and she was quick to answer.. My Salary is very good and I'm allowed to chat with customer and band on Friday night is lots of fun.

We bided farewell and declared a prompt return. From our dining table we could see all, the large screen, smaller TV's galore a good spread of Pool tables, separate area for darts and a roomy bar service. We must return for a road test .. and we did ..... 

The following month my good friend Billy Cove, colourful local Social identity, from Bangkok Rocks invited me to join his team for a round of pool at "the Sportsman".

I said "yes" before I knew what the competition was, it didn't matter I was going anyway!

Billy's tips about "9 ball", as we walked the beat to the venue were "Primitive"!

This night we were well beaten by the Manager Rob's team. (rob is top left in blue shirt).   His team of multi-nations Canada, Uk, Ireland earned their stripes as they slayed us.

what I liked most about this place? ....   EVERYTHING!

The interior is sprightly and clean, the staff are warm and friendly (what Thai isn't), everything had a place and purpose, it all worked seamlessly for the Patron.  Such is evidence of the Management's competency.
The pool tables are of exceptional good standard with abundance of space between so you don't have that cramped in feeling which features in many Thai bars.  The extra lighting to the ceilings brings a friendly atmosphere that can make you otherwise "jolt" on entrance .. where you look and only see a darkness above the waist and tend to step forward with slight caution, but not here.

I expose our team!
it was our 1st outing together, it's a fair (to fairly weak) excuse for losing. 

all our photos of the Sportsman Bar select slideshow or Photos.

Aussie Exec Tours Bangkok have partnered to provide special Corporate rates for our tour clients. We will provide you with the VIP card to enjoy the benefits.  Take the family and enjoy the facilities, the Park just few metres down the road is bonus.

Our Travel forum Photos of Benjarai Park - click here
For more on Ladyboys (gae-toeys) use the search box at the top of this blog
To know more about the BTS skytrain - click here
The Sportsman Bar website

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bangkok's Burning Question - howz our Risk Management and Insurance

AustCham Thailand event
Landmark Hotel, Bangkok
July 6th 2010
Guest Speakers:
KHUN SORACHON BOONSONG, Principal of Baker & McKenzie
ROBIN ARMSTRONG - Chief Executive Officer, Marsh PB Co., Ltd.

Recent events in Thailand have demonstrated the  significance of robust risk management and insurance programs in helping your business get back on its feet quickly. They have also highlighted the importance of considering the events that your insurance will cover. It is then paramount to understand the implications regarding insurance contracts and how they operate in such events.

The Guests speakers delivered an overview of insurance contracts and how you can best protect your business for the future. Khun Sorachon Boonsong covered the significant legal issues, whilst Robin Armstrong cover gave intricate insight into the relevant business issues. 

Khun Sorachon is a Principal at Baker & McKenzie Bangkok.

Khun Sorachon has become well-recognised for providing advice and legal assistance to a variety of clients, wide ranging from domestic clients to large multinational corporations. His vast array of expertise has served clients in a broad range of commercial transactions, including mergers & acquisitions, with numerous high profile and landmark insurance company; in his portfolio; power/renewable energy projects; real estate, hotel/resort and property development; environmental law; as well as his foremost specialty, being insurance law and insurance regulatory matters. Khun Sorachon kindly provides a PDF version of his slide presentation at this page.  The PDF provides the fundamentals from prospective of law where Khun Robin sliced and diced the Insurance policy.

Photo right  .. 
May 19 Bangkok

The photo is from a collection from
our forum article about
"Together We care".

The article incldues a video showing the genuine character of Community.. the article is detailed here 

Sunday, July 11, 2010


A spectacular sunset in Bangkok, showing the s... Among the many businesses and individuals affected by the recent protests in Thailand, the hospitality sector, especially in Bangkok, was one of the hardest hit. A number of major hotels close to the turmoil were even forced to close for a period while others remained open albeit with extremely low occupancies. Travel warnings issued by some countries led tourists to cancel their trips while some companies doing business in Thailand instructed their staff to avoid visiting the Kingdom as their insurance did not cover travel during periods of civil unrest.

The Tourism Council of Thailand cut its forecast for foreign tourist arrivals in 2010 from 16 million to between 12.7 million and 14 million and the Rajprasong Square Trade Association estimated losses to 2088 businesses in the area of Bt 11.275 billion affecting some 30,661workers.
Thailand and her people have always been regarded as peaceful and welcoming so to most potential tourists and previous visitors, the recent events came as a surprise and has certainly affected Thailand’s image among this core market.

Overcoming this wave of negative publicity presents a formidable challenge to the hospitality industry in the short term, however most key players contacted for this article expressed optimism that, in the medium to long term, the sector will bounce back from this latest setback as it has done before.
 Gathering together comments from major hotel operators in Thailand, particularly Bangkok which was most affected, the predictions and actions undertaken generally concur. In the face of these challenges it is encouraging to note that for the most part hoteliers present a united front together with the strategic efforts of the Government, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Thai Hotels Association and various other bodies such as PATA.

Let’s try to keep this positive. We know that tourism in Thailand is resilient and will definitely bounce back but let’s look at what actions need to be taken to lessen the damage. First off, the good news is that a number of major city hotels say that their “on the books” business for the traditional peak winter period, is still looking very healthy, for some even better than for the same period last year. They say there have been no major cancellations so far for later in the year. Clearly visitors expect the situation to calm down and still want to come to Thailand, so they are not being hasty in their actions. Excellent news indeed!

A necessary short term action taken by hotels is to offer Destination Management Companies discounted rates for a limited period, primarily in order to encourage people to return. However, it is to be stressed that this is a merely a short term action plan. As Thailand has traditionally been an inexpensive destination, hopefully these initiatives are a stop gap measure until the expected bounce back occurs. In the meantime hoteliers have to be creative to make sure their staff does not suffer too much during this lull, or worse still lose valuable trained employees due to retrenchments.

A couple of hotels cleverly went ahead with their planned Wedding Fairs, and one hotel in particular did extremely well, taking more bookings and deposits on the spot than they had done in previous buoyant years. Others are conducting strong food and beverage promotions with attractively priced menus.

BANGKOK, THAILAND - DECEMBER 10:  A general vi...On the other hand, there have been a couple of hasty moves, including one prominent hotel deciding to dramatically slash its rates. It is questionable what this will achieve except putting pressure on other hotels to follow suite for limited short term gains. Most will resist this knee jerk reaction as they know that although it may bring in a few locals to stay for a night or two there will be no substantial benefit. Actions like these have the potential to create animosity between hotels at the very moment they need to pull together and focus on combined efforts to revitalize the sector with the help of the TAT and other associations.
Bangkok at night, view from State Tower

More positive efforts are being initiated to bring Travel Agents and International/Regional Media, into the country and to re-ignite the efforts of TCEB to encourage Conference and Incentive business.

Taking a long term view it is encouraging to note that many international hotel groups still intend to proceed with their plans to open new hotels in Bangkok and are will complete those that are presently under construction.

Wayne Buckingham, Regional Vice President Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore for Starwood Hotels and Resorts is of the opinion that stability and security is the greatest challenge of all as this is what is required get tourism and business to return to the country.

BANGKOK, THAILAND - DECEMBER 10:  A boatman wa... “The result of the difficulties we are facing is creating downward pressure for pricing in the hospitality sector, especially in wholesale markets,” he says. “As business demand declines there is a tendency towards price cutting to generate cash flow and this will put downward pressure on yields, which will take some time to return to pre crisis levels.” In addition he believes that over the next two years there will be a surplus supply of rooms due to new hotels being opened in Bangkok which will exacerbate the problem.

The growth of Starwood is still strong, with 16 hotels currently under development across the region, Wayne is still positive about the future. Admittedly he acknowledges that future development will unfortunately slow down somewhat in Thailand after recent events. However they are still keen to look for opportunities within Thailand such as Phuket and Samui or strengthen their brand in places like Vietnam and developing resort areas.

In the short-term he says they are looking at India, the Middle East and China to replace business lost from traditional markets and putting greater emphasis on driving domestic business from Thais and expatriates living in Thailand.
View from Bangkok Tourist Boat 
Duncan Webb, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, ONYX Hospitality Group echoes many of these sentiments. He says that Thailand as a destination has weathered many storms in the past, both domestic and international and is confident it will do so again. “Thailand's hospitality industry must now evaluate the damage caused to the reputation of the country and specifically Bangkok as a result of the recent civil unrest,” he said. “In the eyes of the international media, it seemed the entire country was impacted but the situation is more complex. The resort destinations in the south continued to welcome clients who bypassed Bangkok, flying directly to their chosen beach. Whilst many nations issued the highest level of travel advisory against Thailand, some markets such as India and Russia continued to generate business even during the most critical period of the troubles.”

He anticipates the recovery will vary by segment and market. “A critical challenge for all of us in the hospitality industry is how to re-activate the MICE segment as international corporations planning an overseas meeting later this year may be hesitant to consider Bangkok as an option. As an industry we need to work together with the relevant industry bodies to project positive messages about Bangkok,” he said.

 ONYX has activated a series of initiatives aiming at creating positive messages about the destination and the Amari brand in key source markets. In the last week, we have already welcomed media groups from UK and Germany and the sales team is seeking out short term business opportunities in order to maintain occupancy.

Tosten Pinter, GM of Swisshotel Nailert Park estimates that recovery will take a bit longer than from the last political unrest, probably 6-9 months this time if there are no further incidents. In the meantime he is focusing on promotions for Asia Pacific and local guests to replace those from traditional markets.

“With seven restaurants in the hotel we are making F&B a focus of our activity rather than cutting rates,” he says. In his opinion reducing prices will not automatically increase occupancy rates and may even have a negative impact on regular guests as the customer segmentation changes with lower rates.

Francis Zimmerman, General Manager of Marriot Resort and Spa also expressed the belief that Thailand will bounce back although it may take a bit longer this time. “It is very important right now to make direct communications to guests, partners and other parties that Thailand remains very safe, stable and a great destination to visit,” he said. In his opinion, offering big discounts across the board is very counter productive as Thailand is already rated as one of the top tourist destinations globally for value for money.

Ken Scott, Managing Director, ScottAsia Communications and PR Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Thailand Chapter says that although the fiscal cost of the damage is high it is the reputation of Thailand as a destination that has taken a knock. “Leisure tourists' decision making is very sensitive and they cancel or switch their destinations quickly. The Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Singaporean and Hong Kong markets tend to react fastest and pay more attention to their government's travel advisories,” he noted.

“On a more positive note, during the unrest, places such as Phuket and Samui and Krabi were operating as normal. The challenge is to get that message across to travel agents and consumers overseas,” he added.

Samir Wildemann, General Manager, Radisson Hotel Bangkok, Sathorn also feels that the sector will bounce back as it has in the past but he feels that the recent situation calls for a unique joint action between the Government and the private sector. “There should be a short term immediate recovery plan as well as a long term sustainable development plan that will aid hotel properties foresee a positive future for our business,” he said.

Radisson Hotels are focusing their efforts on key markets who can quickly decide re a trip to Thailand as well as those planning for the high season later this year. “Fortunately, we didn't have to close our (Sathorn) hotel at the time of the protests, instead, our team used that time for additional training, strategic planning and collaborative actions re-adjusting our sales, marketing and public relation activities while we continued to develop and polish our hotel operations, amenities and facilities.” he said.

All in all the vast majority of comments reflect the same positive attitude and all agree that we have to be focused and work strategically in order to see short and long term goals fulfilled. There is no doubt, that unless we have another dramatic incident, we should soon see this bustling metropolis active again with both tourists and corporate visitors from all over the world. As a result, not only will the hospitality and tourism industry recover, but businesses reliant on the continuing support of both regional and international guests will see the return of their valued customers.

Ms Anne Lewinski is Managing Director for AL Consultancy Hotel Solutions Ltd.
Anne has worked in the Travel, International Airline and Hospitality industries for over 37 years during which time she has specialized in Sales and Marketing. Her responsibilities have included both property/product specific and also regional roles, in the Asia/Pacific region. Her last role in Thailand was with The Sukhothai Bangkok where she spent 4.5 years as Director of Marketing and Sales.

She formed her company late 2008 and now provides small and large hotels and hotel management companies with support services - specializing in sales and marketing strategies, planning, training, audits, advertising, website and creative assistance. She served on the Board of Directors for AustCham Thailand in 2008 and 2009.