Centara Hotels and Resorts’ post-flood years have been thriving with events business, but SVP for sales and marketing, Chris Bailey, hopes more attention will be given to attracting incentive groups to Thailand.
BY SIRIMA EAMTAKO
What should spring to mind when Centara Hotels and Resorts is mentioned?
A Thai hotel chain with something for everyone! With our extensive network of properties throughout Thailand plus fast paced overseas expansions, we’ve got the full range of star ratings. We are in all major locations. We provide a one-stop shop for MICE groups.
Not only do our MICE hotels boast city-centre locations with convenient access to mass transit networks, our experienced team provides turn-key solutions that allow MICE planners to focus on efficiency and cost effectiveness of their events.
Centara Grand is our premium five-star brand located in all the right destinations. Under this brand, we offer a choice of city and resort locations in Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Hua Hin and Phuket. Each property provides prominent convention facilities. In Bangkok, MICE planners can choose to use the dedicated Bangkok Convention Centre at Centara Grand at CentralWorld and Centara Grand at CentralPlaza Ladprao.
Centara is our core four-star brand, offering quality yet value-for-money MICE products in major destinations in Thailand. Our other brands are the three-star Centara and boutique-concept Centara Boutique Collection. Our budget brand, COSI, with the first hotel to open next year, will also offer some events facilities.
Which is Centara’s MICE-focused brand?
Regardless of brands, MICE planners will find consistency in the products and deliverables at our properties, starting from pre-event. The same principles apply no matter where our properties are located. We also offer electronic support – through emailing and website – to make the jobs of planners easier.
As a Thai-oriented company, we offer a Thainess service. Our consistency in our products and systems is also reflected in our services provided by our well-trained staff.
Is Centara group seeing a full recovery, following Thai political problems and the flood crisis in 2010 and 2011 respectively?
In all our core properties, yes! We saw business shifting from the flood period in 2011 to the following year, making 2012 somewhat artificial as a strong year of MICE properties. Business continues to come to our properties in 2013, making it another strong year in terms of MICE business for us.
Association meetings are our main MICE business. Incentives have become smaller: they still require quality experience, but at lesser numbers and with more focus.
What is Centara Hotels and Resorts doing to attract more MICE business in 2013 and 2014?
We have 18 offices overseas which are targeted to handle our MICE business. Our strategy is to listen to our customers and tailor-make our products to make sure that our offer is relevant to their needs.
Is Thailand on the right track in promoting itself as a MICE destination?
I’m not sure we are giving the right picture. Overall, I feel that MICE is driven into this country by the private sector. This is because our message on Thailand as a destination is quite mixed. We don’t have a cohesive single voice. We don’t speak with a single voice.
I’ll like to see more effort in attracting incentives, because the spend is higher when compared to other segments. The question is: are we getting our share in making ourselves look more attractive for incentive business? For instance, Phuket has a problem with cabs, and we need to address that.