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A dedicated portal focus on luxury travel in Thailand

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is launching this month a dedicated website for luxury travellers as demand for exclusive products continue to rise. The Thailand SuperQuality portal looks to satisfy both travellers and the trade looking at this segment.

BERLIN/BANGKOK- At the last ITB edition in Berlin a month ago, TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni highlighted the need for Thailand to continue to diversify into niche markets. Next to green travel, adventure travel, wedding and honeymoon, medical tourism and wellbeing stay or golf, TAT has also identified the need to present its wide range of products to Thailand’s most discerning travellers. “ In 2013, TAT is undertaking online campaigns to directly tap the premium segments of the tourism industry”, explained the Governor to a European audience of travel trade in Berlin.

“To ensure consistent reach to high-end travelers, TAT is launching the Thailand Super Quality Portal in a clear effort to increase both the quality of our tourism products and the quality of foreign visitors to the country. The Mini Site will present the very best of Thailand’s luxury products and services. It will have many online activities, as well as a concerted CRM drive”, added Mr. Svetasreni.

The portal is due to be ready this month. According to TAT Governor, it will be a tool to actively seek out travel trade partners with premium customers in a bid to strengthen Thailand’s position into a true quality destination.

The luxury segment is one of Asia’s fastest growing and most promising niche market. It is mostly due to expanding economies with an increasingly young and affluent population, a growing desire for rare and rewarding experiences coupled with an increasingly sophisticated demanding traveller, more mature due to the explosion of digital peer-to-peer research and fed with higher expectation.

According to a research done last from the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Asia which takes place every year in Shanghai in early June, all these factors are breeding new and exciting groups of luxury travellers across Asia.
Alison Gilmore, Exhibition Director of ILTM Asia, explained during the presentation that the research showed the emergence of new luxury travel ‘tribes’ in Asia who represent huge opportunities for brands to meet their challenging, sometimes contradictory demands.

Consultant for trend forecasting, brand strategy and consumer insight, Future Poll, gave some indications about the new luxury tribes during the last ILTM edition:

  • New Sophisticates from China, India and Indonesia value experiences above status;
  • Status Hunters seek brands who can offer ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses;
  • Young Guns are online aware and affluent, from China and India and read social media reviews to comparison shop their way around the world;
  • Luxe Pack travellers tour the globe with friends and extended family
  • Single Saris are professional women from India travelling alone for the first time;
  • Luxury Pilgrims look for travel brands that offer 5* hotel and spa treats in India for their religious pilgrimages
  • Ultra-honeymooners are booking £200,000 wedding/honeymoon packages
  • Frugal Millionaires are from China and are challenging brands to deliver 5* luxury with elements of economy
  • Green Shoots lead the environmentally sensitive and culturally aware travel movement to destinations such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia and rural China

“Culture is undoubtedly one of the most important influencers on luxury travel choices. The new groups of high end travellers we have now identified are not necessarily defined by region but by their cultural behaviour and needs.”

Experienced Chinese luxury travellers – from Status Hunters to New Sophisticates  – will seek a curated travel experience, yet also look for familiar foods and lifestyle elements in their travels as a matter of respect. Luxury Pilgrims are increasingly aspirational, yet committed to their simple religious practices – more than 650 million Hindus and Sikhs embarked on pilgrimages in India in 2010, a rise of 15.5% on the previous year. In addition, cultural curiosity about ethnic heritage is fuelling ‘Green Shoots’ Chinese Singaporeans for example, to explore China itself.

Asian Luxe Pack travellers travel in groups for a myriad of reasons:  50th birthdays, weddings, re-unions – providing many opportunities to tailor dedicated programmes.

Young Guns from China, India and Indonesia are a younger demographic than their Western counterparts and define the trend across Asia to go online to ask their peers to help them decide where to travel and which brands can be trusted to take them there. Customer interaction and communication is becoming increasingly vital to ensure each luxury travel experience maintains market distinction.

In Southeast Asia, the most effective market campaign to target the luxury travel has been so far done by Malaysia. A new brochure and the appointment of five Malaysia Tourism Ambassadors were launched in 2010 to boost Malaysia’s image as a luxury tourism destination. The aim is to reach out to luxury and business travelers overseas, Ambassadors were chosen for their standing in society and reputation in their respective social and business circles. They include Formula 1 Jean Todt, Malaysia-born shoe designer Jimmy Choo, Ooi Chean See, orchestra conductor, much-admired corporate figure Takao Kawasaki for Japan; and Wang Chungui, wellknown former diplomat, for China.

Singapore has been embarked now for a couple of years into a quality tourism drive. To this end, the Singapore Tourism Board has begun gearing up for a shift towards a visitor-centric approach to developing the tourism sector, and become more targeted in its marketing approach. STB goes now deeper in understanding travellers needs to let the tourism sector customize its product to differentiate quality experiences. This translates into high quality attractions such as luxury resorts, art festivals, new F&B experience, more exclusive products such as the Gardens by the Bay or a new cruise terminal. The efforts were conducted in conjunction with the campaign “Your Singapore” which have set the scene for Singapore’s shift from a holiday destination to a lifestyle destination.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.