This week,Travel Daily catches up with the glamorous general manager of the iconic Banyan Tree Bangkok, to discuss the past, present and future of Thai tourism.
Travel Daily) Thailand’s tourism arrivals have risen rapidly in recent years; what impact is this having on the luxury sector – and specifically, on the performance of Banyan Tree Bangkok?
This is correct that tourism arrivals have generally increased but in fact not from all markets and we still have to make adjustments to our marketing and our product accordingly. As an example, when the drop in Chinese tourism decreased for the first half of this year our hotel achieved a nice increase because we target the higher end FIT travellers and targeted marketing to this group and also ensured we had more Chinese speaking staff to assist them. And of course while there has been increase in arrivals, Bangkok is also a challenging market with new luxury product coming on in the past years and in the future years as well. A product like Banyan Tree is already blessed to offer a different experience for our guests and we have continued to try and be different rather than match other hotels. We are known as a resort brand and so we continue to provide a product and style of service to reflect that.
What major trends are you experiencing, in terms of guest source markets, length-of-stay etc?
As mentioned above, there is a trend for more FIT travel especially from China and this is great for the company and the likes of Banyan tree in particular. The booking period is becoming later even for some of the more traditional long-haul markets which makes it more difficult to forecast. Of course the online arena both direct and via third parties is growing and will continue to do so. But we also very much still see the role for innovate tour operators especially in the luxury market. People want to experience more and learn about the local culture and life. Thai cooking and Muay Thai classes we offer are very popular because of the learning aspect and also the chance to interact on a more personal level with our team members.
Banyan Tree Bangkok is known for its restaurants and bars, what’s new now and in the future?
Ever since opening 21 years ago Banyan Tree Bangkok has been renowned for its Food & Beverage offerings and quality. Vertigo was the first international rooftop restaurant and bar in the city and of course now there are many and more to open. So though all this was have enhanced the experience but also taken the approach to continue to provide the best service and to provide excellent value. While we didn’t want to change the winning concept of Vertigo & Moon Bar, 2 years ago we saw the opportunity for a new indoor sky high experience and we opened VertigoTOO which has established itself as one of the cool places to hangout as well as a breath-taking option for a group event. This November we will launch our new Saffron Sky Garden on the 52nd floor giving an al fresco, more relaxed experience to the award-winning Saffron Restaurant.
What opportunities and challenges lie ahead for hoteliers in Thailand and Laos?
We see the future as bringing wonderful new opportunities as long as hotels are willing to differentiate their product and offer an experience which is more than a room for the night. New markets are opening and the world growth is right here on our doorstep in Asia. For some companies, finding and retaining the right staff will be a challenge so it is important to make the environment one that is interesting and like a family. We have as much pride as the back of house as we do the front. This year we received two recognitions, which we are proud of as some of the more well-known national public awards. They were “Green Office Award” from Bangkok greenest office competition, a “Bangkok Low Carbon Society” project run by Government Employer Association of Thailand and our Child Care Center also won the “Excellent Standard Award” from Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
What further developments can we expect at Banyan Tree in Thailand and around the region in 2017 and beyond?
There are Banyan Trees already in the pipeline within Thailand and we are also looking at developments in South East Asia. But we are also looking at other opportunities in other secondary areas from which to provide other authentic experiences that match what the travellers will be looking for in the future.