Thai travel and hospitality brands have been adept at catering to foreign tourists, but with international traveller numbers plummeting this year they need to redesign their brand experience to meet the needs of domestic tourists.

The tourism industry is facing an 80% drop in the number of big-spending foreign arrivals and attention is instead shifting to domestic travellers who, over the past three years, have accounted for more than a third of industry revenue.

In a new WARC Spotlight series, four executives from VLMY&R Thailand – Ekaluck Charanvas, Ponghatai Sreesing, Hari Ramanathan and Kunakorn Sansuk – note that pivoting away from marketing strategies skewed towards attracting foreign tourists, to strategies aimed at capturing the attention of Thai consumers, is easier said than done.

“For brands in Thailand, catering to an exclusively domestic audience will require some serious readjustment,” they observe. The ‘Land of Smiles’ tagline used to attract overseas tourists, for example, “is just not going to work, particularly considering domestic friction in the country, political and otherwise”.

What is required, they argue, is to pinpoint a brand’s unique value proposition for domestic audiences – and one that goes beyond a raft of price-focused government initiatives.

“In most cases, this will require a complete redesign of their whole brand experience. For instance, little snatches of a Ramayana dance while dining is not necessarily an exotic experience for Thai people.”

They also cite award-winning chef Bo Songvisava, who believes that the majority of Thai cuisine served in the country has been westernised – dumbing down the flavours for an international clientele – and that Thai people are starting to lose a sense of what real Thai cuisine is.

“Authenticity is key to creating brand connections,” the authors maintain.

At the same time, they suggest that business models need to be redefined for brands to capture the domestic market – and that will entail a deeper segmentation of Thai consumers, by mindset rather than simply income, and then finding a purpose that resonates with the segments a business wants to monetise.

For more details, read the full article: Brands need a serious readjustment to truly connect with Thai consumers

This article is part of a Spotlight series on how brands can connect better with Thai consumers as the domestic market becomes the main market in times of COVID-19. Read more here.

Sourced from WARC