PHUKET: To help tour operators capitalize on the changing demographics of clients on Phuket’s famed Soi Bangla, which has piqued the curiosity of families and tour groups over the past few years, Patong Dine & Show brings the party street Southeast Asia’s first combined interactive Vegas-style show and discotheque – Illuzion.
With a 4-million-baht sound system, a 70sqm LED screen and millions of more baht spent on lights and special effects, the about 244mn-baht complex will get started with a whole lot of razzle-dazzle at its grand opening on December 19.
“This is probably the best setting you can find in Thailand, not only Phuket, because of the special effects, the sound system and DJs,” explained Patrick Catellani, CFO of Patong Dine & Show and Co-Founder of Hollywood World Entertainments. “We know that only as a disco it would be successful, but we want to add on the core product, which is the show.”
Similar to the Coco Bongo Show and Disco in Mexico’s prime party town of Cancun, Illuzion weaves a series of international-quality stage performances, aerial shows and acrobatics into a single interactive experience for guests.
“The name Illuzion comes from the concept that we deliver to the customer: when they come here, they have to feel like they are in a dream. That’s why we call it an interactive show, it’s not just a sit-and-watch-and-drink experience, you can walk around and take part in the dream – you are part of it,” Mr Catellani explained.
“At the moment there is no such place like this in Southeast Asia. The goal is to do something completely different. We believe that tour operators are seeking something unique to present to their customer. There is a demand for a high-quality experience like this.”
It is no secret that tour agents do their best to fill every hour of a tourist’s day with tours, events and activities, not only to create an experience their clients will cherish, but to cash in on every possible waking moment.
Keeping this in mind, Patong Dine & Show saw an opening – after 10pm.
“We operate other clubs in this area and we have noticed changes in the types of tourists here. The number of tourists who come to Phuket has increased significantly due to the efforts of tour operators – they bring families, they bring groups,” Mr Catellani said.
“These tourists are curious, they come to see why Bangla is popular, but once they are here… they realize there is nothing for them, so we wanted to come up with something unique and classy that fits their needs.”
With the venue featuring 400 VIP seats and 600 regular seats, the core market for Illuzion will not be walk-in guests, noted Mr Catellani.
Tour operators will be key for the company hitting its goal and be in the black by the end of next year.
“Tour operators are a very important part of the market for our business, so we will be putting a lot of effort into cooperating with them,” Mr Catellani said.
To cater directly to the needs of tour operators, Illuzion has established a full line of facilities and services, including transfers, parking areas, VIP access and VIP treatment for guests, as well as food services for drivers and areas for guides to relax away from the show.
Multilingual staff will be on hand to help cater to major mass-tourism markets on the island, such as the Russians and Chinese.
“One of the good things is that our schedule matches tour operators’ needs. We understand that their customers are busy during the day because of different tours. And other shows are earlier than ours. So we chose to perform at a time when their customers are free from other tours and activities, which gives people a nice, classier way to experience Patong at night.”
Not only is Illuzion looking to transform the way thousands of tourists experience Patong’s nightlife, but it is also a working model for future ventures in the Asian region.
“We have presented the model to some of our partners in China. They are very excited and will be coming to the opening on December 19. Additionally, we are already planning for an opening of a similar venue in Beijing,” Mr Catellani said. “But this one is the first.”
— Isaac Stone Simonelli
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