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Phuket's GMs Find Sacking Staff Comes at a Cost

Sunday, August 4, 2013
Phuket News Analysis

PHUKET: Insecurity and uncertainty are likely to become more widespread among expats in Phuket's tourism industry as the ''Phuket model'' is being reshaped.

With the glow from the euro now less bright, salaries at the top level are coming under greater scrutiny.

People in marketing roles earning Western pay rates are simply the first row of sacrifices to the rise of the yuan and the ruble.

Nothing personal here: all decisions on Phuket at resorts are about the money.

Phuket resort managers freely admit that the role of marketing people has become less important and therefore non-essential in an age when more individual travellers are make their own judgements and booking online.

If the target is package tours, then in the countries that are becoming more important to Phuket, the number of people one needs to talk to has reduced considerably.

The best Thai workers in Phuket resorts now have enough experience and judgement - and often an extra language. They are gaining promotion, often at the expense of Western staffers.

What's even more impressive is that the best come at perhaps 70,000 baht a month, a quarter the cost of a topline expat with similar skills.

Resort general managers on Phuket are sometimes making some adjustments and performing certain PR tasks themselves or relying on an economical local employee to perform the more straightforward tasks.

The one problem is that there are not enough highly-skilled Thai staff. Tourists continue to note that three-star resorts on Phuket don't have enough staff who speak good English.

And if English skills are in short supply, then staff who speak good Chinese or Russian are also likely to be in great demand.

With nurses in the Philippines reportedly being offered courses in the Thai language, it's plain that the arrival of the Asean bloc economic community will mean even greater change for people seeking jobs.

More of the large resorts that were built on Phuket up to 20 years ago are expected to need refurbishment in the next few years.

This means more temporary closures, and more layoffs. So far, the majority of workers affected by this kind of inevitable change have been able to quickly find alternative work.

However, what's creating a degree of insecurity and uncertainty among the GMs themselves, not just their staff, are the signs that Phuket is leaning too much towards dependance on one or two markets.

The beauty of Phuket has always been its resilience to economic downturns in specific parts of the world because of its global approach to marketing.

That's the reason why those resorts that bite the bullet and continue to pay marketing staff well to target so-called ''quality'' tourists in Europe and Scandinavia may yet prove to be the smartest of all.

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It's a similar development like in China. Europeans become less important for business while local owners get more self-confidence in being able to handle matters their own way and saving money while doing so. Fair enough, still plenty of places in the world where we can move to if the conditions become not interesting enough. Africa is coming up, south-america has plenty of new hotel business growing and if you like to stay in SEA - Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia can be the next on your list. Also beautiful places - like Phuket.

Posted by Jakub on August 4, 2013 19:49

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The opening of ASEAN borders for job-seekers will open only for those with diplomas recognized by the ASEAN members in well-defined services to avoid influx of economic refugees and unskilled without academic qualifications.
This openness to graduated nationals from ASEAN to work in any country of the ASEAN will slow-down requests from Thai companies to recruit employees not members of ASEAN and Thailand will certainly strengthen its laws to curb the arrival of Europeans, Russians, etc. ....

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 5, 2013 08:48

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I agree with the author and would note that "training" is also taking center-stage in generating repeat euro business these days. This reality can be attributed to the fact that everything is transparent now due to Trip adviser and other websites...

1. Training
2. Marketing/PR
3. Operations (especially operations communications)

Quality expat talent on these three fronts will maximize baht spent on foreign staff. The locals can do most everything great these days, but do lack professional writing skills in foreign languages (of which English is still King in Phuket Tourism!).

A healthy focus may also be placed on expertise and international awards in the area of sustainability... a smart attractor for Europeans.(Massive cost savings from conservation efforts are not to be forgotten as well.)

Posted by Jacob on August 5, 2013 10:41

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Send me all cv,s of Thai sales and marketing experts working for 70k a month wm

Posted by Wm on August 5, 2013 21:34


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