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Across the land: Unusual times in Phuket tourism

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PHUKET: A typical ‘high season’ in Phuket is usually from November to April every year, with the ‘peak season’ being December and January. However, this has not been the case for 2015/2016, where the high season and peak season has passed by hitting a large speed bump. Almost all businesses on the island – tour companies, sailboat hires, hair & nail salons, massage shops and restaurants – have complained of a slow and quiet season.

Traditionally, most businesses here make enough money in the high season to cover overheads and expenses during the low season, until the next high season is upon them again. With a poor high season gone past, most business owners have very little to tide themselves over the low season.

Dependency on high season business alone is no longer sufficient to sustain any business throughout the year. New strategies and new markets for the low season and diversification for both seasons throughout the year should be sought. Even marketing strategies have to adapt to the changed markets, with marketers now seeking consumers on social media platforms through creative and engaging content. Clever marketing, aimed at the experience seeking generation of travellers from Asia’s emerging markets, could make up for the numbers in the low season.

This new generation of travellers, better known as ‘Millennials’, is a growing market segment with a unique influence through social media. Millienial is defined by Wikimedia as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y and is the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to around 2000.

Millennials wield substantial online influence by sharing information, opinions and feedback, and where such user generated contents are ‘trusted’. A poor feedback or review by any traveller, especially on the world’s largest travel website, TripAdvisor, could be detrimental to any business or property owner. Just one negative comment could affect potential clients and take a while to recover from. It is no surprise that hotels and rental agencies have invested in a large IT team to create interesting and up to date content for all forms of social media.

Similarly, for individual property owners, depending on rentals during the high season alone may no longer be sufficient, and opening up the opportunity to cater to the new breed of travellers will be an interesting prospect.

Even without the backing of a large IT team to promote their properties, individual property owners could start by setting up a website featuring their property. The website can then be used to point out real estate agents and service providers to potential clients, as well as serve as a platform where all the relevant photos and other important information regarding the property is featured.

Listings with websites such as TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Flipkey and the like could also help owners widen their reach for potential clients and tap into the market for Millenial travellers.

Amy Koh is the sales manager of Engel & Voelkers Phuket. To contact Amy or for more information, visit engel voelkers.com/en/phuket

— Amy Koh

 

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