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Turning others’ bad reputations into profit

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Manop Pukpaya, 46, has been working as a Phuket taxi driver since 1997. He has a certificate in sales marketing from Dusit Commercial College Bangkok and for the past three years has run his own taxi service.

Here, he talks about how the bad reputation of taxi drivers in Phuket and a good online review helped him expand his business, and discusses the attributes of a good taxi driver.


PHUKET: The bad reputation of taxi drivers in Phuket actually helped my taxi business become successful.

It all started for me about three years ago. I had been working as a driver for a tour company but decided to go out on my own because I wanted to get more experience and manage everything by myself.

I didn’t use the internet very much at that time, but then I had a customer named Ian Bishop, a teacher from Australia, who taught me a lot about it. He liked my service, and when he went home, he posted a good review of me on TripAdvisor.

In the first year after that, I didn’t see an increase in customers, but then more people posted comments about me, and in the second year my customers went up by about 70 per cent. Now I’m booked solid through to next year. I get about 10 emails a day asking for bookings. I work alone, and I’m so busy I have to turn away customers.

Maybe the main reason I get bookings is because people have heard bad things about taxi drivers in Phuket. They’re scared and looking for someone they can trust who will give them good service and not cheat them.

The customers I get from online research the island before they come. They tend to be knowledgeable about Phuket and want to learn more when they’re here. They are usually calm and patient, and I like working with them.

When I hear stories about bad taxi drivers – the ones who break the rules, cheat their customers or sexually harass them – I feel so sad, because it gives us all a bad image. These guys need to be really strongly punished.

All of us who deal with tourists hold Phuket’s reputation in our hands, especially if we’re the ones the tourist meets first – the crew on their airplane, immigration officials, taxi drivers. We help them form their first impression of Thailand. We all need to try to give them a good feeling when they arrive, so they’ll be impressed with Thailand.

It’s not hard to be a good taxi driver. You just need to take care of your customers well. You need to have a service mind, be responsible, honest, trustworthy, friendly and helpful.

Some taxi drivers who take customers on day trips take them to shops. I know they do it because they get a commission from the shop, and I think this behavior is selfish. What kind of experience is that for the visitors? They probably spent a long time planning their trip, and are really looking forward to a fun holiday. They’re not going to be impressed if we take them to a shop. Phuket has so many great places to visit – beaches, attractions, lovely nature – these are the things that tourists are going to enjoy.

I love my job. It gives me so much, and allows me to help my family. I’m really grateful to Mr Bishop for praising me online and helping me establish a good reputation.

— Woranut Pechdee

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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