On the road to recovery in the Thai hotel and tourism industry

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The case of Tourism Authority of Thailand and Expedia Group

Dubai, –: The travel industry is well aware of the deep impact COVID-19 has had on the future of travel. As the industry faces arguably the biggest threat to its survival that it’s ever faced, we are seeing all players impacted, from hotels and airlines, to tour guides and restaurants. In addition, there is the underlying anxiety of unstable employment for millions of workers, and the fears around how this will have impacted local economies in the long-term, particularly those in destinations that rely heavily on tourism for their livelihoods.

But amongst the chaos, there are glimmers of hope. The industry is already exploring ways to rebuild itself following the devastating impact of the virus and the early signs of recovery from Asia have shown us two clear themes are emerging: a collaborative approach between a wide range of players, both public and private, and the importance of technology in understanding, forecasting and planning for the future.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways Expedia Group is working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), with whom they’ve had a strong relationship for years, to lay the foundation for tourism recovery in Thailand:

Analyzing recovery patterns after crises: by studying travelers’ behavior before, during, and especially after the SARS crisis in 2003, using third-party data as well as Expedia Group’s insights, Thailand is assessing how its key markets might return to their market first and what segments will recover fastest – for example, business travelers versus leisure travelers.

Expand market diversity: Thailand is a hub for travelers from many continents but according to Expedia Group, travelers from the United States was the number one feeder market for them last year.[1] Experts have pointed out that over-reliance on a single source market is one of the key reasons for the significant tourism decline in the immediate outbreak of Covid-19[2] . To offset the decline from a single source market or region, accommodation players can look elsewhere to develop a more diversified strategy. Thai accommodation providers can also use Expedia Group data analytics as they map out their long-term diversification strategy. Understanding seasonality and behaviour of these travellers can also help properties match their offerings to the right target markets.

Digital skills for the future: In line with Thailand’s 4.0 Economic Development Policy Plan, domestic tourism operators can take this time to improve digital skills and apply these once the market sees signs of recovery. Expedia Group’s teams on the ground are actively training their lodging partners to help them develop and enhance their digital skills. When the travel momentum is back, they believe these skills can make a difference and help set a property apart from its competitors. It also allows partners to access their insights tools so they can collect valuable data on guests to target specific groups of travelers and plan for the long-term.

While the entire industry works to minimize the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis, Europe and the US can look to strategies that are already in place in Asia as inspiration, while ensuring that we’re working together as an ecosystem is to keep the world travelling.

[1] Expedia Group 2019 full year Thailand inbound lodging demand, compared to the same period in previous year

[2] ‘Come back soon’: coronavirus wreaks havoc on global tourism hotspots

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