Chakrawooth: We have 4,000 bookings on average each month
A NEW Bangkok-based travel wholesaler has set its sights on becoming the one-stop shop in the travel business landscape by tapping the fast-growing wave of Chinese independent travellers to Thailand.
“We want to be the ‘Makro’ of Thailand’s tourism sector,” said Chakrawooth Kaewjunthong, product manager and deputy general manager at Alibaba Group Holding (not related to the Chinese e-commerce giant), alluding to the popular cash and carry wholesale brand in the country. “Our model is similar to incumbents like GTA, but our core strength lies in the mainland Chinese market.”
The Thai-Chinese joint-venture company was established in August 2015 by Vichit Prakobkosol, owner of the CCT Group and The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa Phuket, together with a trio of Chinese companies.
Boasting an inventory of 2,500 hotels and 500 suppliers including tour operators, spas and restaurants, the group already covers Thailand’s major destinations like Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai, and is growing its content into secondary cities the likes of Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Khao Yai and Kanchanburi – “destinations which are now getting onto the radar of Chinese FITs”, according to Chakrawooth.
He added: “We are seeing very good business from the mainland China market, with almost double-digit growth almost every month. We currently receive around 4,000 bookings each month and hope to double the figures to reach 10,000 by our second anniversary next year.”
When questioned if travel middlemen are still needed in the age of disruption and consolidation, Chakrawooth still sees untapped opportunities in the wholesaler space, as “Chinese travellers’ destination knowledge of Thailand are still not as good as Europeans, so they still need guidance”.
Alibaba Group Holding has a marketing office in the Chinese capital to serve its clients who are predominantly from the first-tier cities of Beiking, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The group aims to broaden its marketing base to Taiwan and Hong Kong in the coming months, before expanding its content and marketing reach into other South-east Asian countries in its next phase of development.