The pandemic no doubt had made an unparalleled impact on the tourism and hospitality industry. It seems that the pandemic had forced businesses globally to respond to the innovative changes in the market, but the reality is that the pandemic just augmented most of the conceivable changes we expected for the future. A business that can navigate through the pandemic crisis quickly is generally the one that is flexible and has already had plans in place in response to the probable future.
Now that the Thai economy is starting to recover, it becomes crucial for a business in Thailand to take a holistic approach to plan. Managing the operational and commercial issues on an ad-hoc basis won’t work anymore as most of the changes observed in the Thai market today are likely to continue beyond the pandemic.
Thailand’s Recovery to Gain Traction
According to Fitch Ratings, Thailand’s economy will recover and gain traction in 2022, reinforced by significant improvements in vaccination rates, supportive global growth environment and business reopening in Thailand. The return of tourism would be gradual, and as per Fitch Thai GDP will reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023. In the backdrop of the Thai government’s decision to re-open facilities and businesses, the hospitality business houses and even Thai startups are stepping up and adopting new practices for ensuring the safety of guests and staff while complying with local regulatory guidance in place.
Quarantine-free Travel for Fully Vaccinated Travelers
Thailand is resuming its quarantine-free travel from the 1st of February. Pandemic related travel curbs have hit Thailand’s tourism-dominated economy, sending its visitor dwindling to a trickle. Fully vaccinated travelers would be allowed to enter the country under the “test and go” scheme provided the visitors take covid tests on the first as well as the fifth day after arriving in Thailand. Visitors are also required to isolate themselves at their hotel while waiting for the results of their test and need to download a tracking app for ensuring they obey the rules.
Strategies to follow by Hospitality Industry in Thailand
The need of the hour for the hospitality sector in Thailand is to take steps strategically for survival, revive services and build capacities, and thrive once the pandemic subsides. But what are the strategic and appropriate steps the tourism industry in Thailand should take in this global crisis?
Invest in Digital
Digitalization has been a recurrent issue in the hospitality business in recent times. In the past, hotels in Thailand delegated this key strategic task to other organizations, like Online Travel Agencies and Review platforms, which in turn is offering investment opportunities in Thailand in the online hospitality sector. Most of the hotels have, since then, recognized the importance of digital presence, particularly for boosting their direct bookings.
Since the onset of the pandemic, digital booking has grown and has contributed a bigger chunk of the overall volume in Thailand. As physical travel agencies are losing business in Thailand, it’s easy to comprehend that the already declining traditional means of booking hotels are now doomed. Ultimately, digitalization is going to take over the overall hotel booking market in Thailand. To benefit from this new status-quo, a Thai business involved in the hospitality sector should pull every string they can for optimizing their digital presence.
Reimagining Marketing Strategy
In the recent few years, outbound marketing hasn’t been a priority for hotels in Thailand. Especially online, where there’s stiff competition with OTAs, marketing might feel like tossing pebbles at a pool: a waste of money, time, and energy.
However, the pandemic has caused the hotel customers’ base to shrink drastically. For refilling this clientele, hoteliers should work with marketing consulting firms which can help them in making people desire to travel again. This isn’t a small task, but with the right business consultant services, hotels could start rebuilding the trust of their guests.
Special Offers and Campaigns
While compulsory shutdowns have disrupted the tourism industry and consequently the hotel industry in Thailand, they see some hope and new opportunities, as the Thai government plans to reopen tourism in Thailand for visitors. A key strategy for the hospitality industry is marketing campaigns targeted toward individuals looking to get away from their homes with innovative offers, such as reservations for a few hours, all-inclusive packages, etc. Businesses should leverage by attracting millennials with offers, who are eager to explore and excited for tailored experiences.
Advanced AI solutions need to be developed to make these campaigns targeted and actionable. Hotels can use advanced analytics on user actions, customer data, etc. which can help them in creating targeted campaigns offering a high degree of success which can also be used for future campaigns. Application of successful campaigns require proficient and expressed professionals thereby creating opportunities for start-up business in Thailand.
Businesses need to be on top of their game while engaging with their patrons. One way is to keep their websites and mobile apps intuitive and interactive, provide regular notifications informing guests about hotel offerings, local attractions, etc., and also ensure that hotel reservations offer flexible cancellation policies. The websites and especially the mobile apps should be interactive to ensure that the hotel guests are able to get their concerns or questions addressed instantly either with the help of live agents or via bots. Hotels should also make sure that their guests stay engaged even after guests check out for facilitating the flow of accurate information about the risk of exposure or the spread of infection.
Businesses should always be ready in advance for the unexpected outbreak, monitor early signs, and manage room inventory so that there are always enough spare rooms for moving guests. Employ inventory optimization software for accommodating emergency readiness protocols. Such software could be leveraged for quickly deploying emergency readiness schemes.
As we have witnessed, the Thai hotel customer base was reduced significantly by the pandemic. To stand out from the competition, hotels in Thailand need to differentiate themselves for the better. Apart from outperforming the competition in the digital and marketing fields, hotels can seek help from business consulting services for implementing innovative solutions and strategies.
Innovation at times is a gamble, as new solutions aren’t always scalable and it might not pay off in the longer run. However, since the pandemic outbreak has triggered a great hospitality reset, it’s the best time to take calculated risks. A disruptive solution might be the decisive factor and the difference that a business needs to make the most of this new environment.
Hotel Renovation and Maintenance
Pandemic outbreak doesn’t mean that hoteliers have closed their doors and are waiting for the pandemic and the lockdown to end. This break offers a perfect time to improve and do some catch up. Whether it’s completing property improvement plans or spontaneous renovation, there won’t be a better time than this. For starters, hotel businesses could make a list of things, items, and everything that requires repair, check maintenance supplies, railings and balcony checks, laundry room systems check, life safety checks, elevators, pool systems, check lights and fittings, etc.
Staying Informed about Available Reliefs
Businesses not just in the hospitality sector but overall, should be aware of the Thai government’s financial support and assistance. The Thai government has offered various incentives such as deferment of payments, tax cuts, support and grant funds for starting a business in Thailand, low-interest working capital loans to open small businesses in Thailand, etc.
Business consultant services can also help businesses in Thailand to keep up with the government’s relief and assistance programs and all the latest developments which can help them cope with the current crisis and stay ahead in business.
The Future of Hospitality
We have seen how pandemic has brushed the old strategies in managing the hospitality sector. The hospitality market in Thailand needs to redesign its way of operation and build anew. Aforesaid are a few pathways and strategies hoteliers could use to thrive in this brand-new world.
Over the long run, hoteliers would have to adjust to the new status-quo and continue to innovate and be a part of the “new normal”. Though, the new normal isn’t the same in the hotel industry: it’s what hoteliers decide to do with their limited resources. The Thai hospitality industry should intend to lead the new normal by being rational and visionary and taking brave steps.
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