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Mixing business with holidays, the Phuket road show hits Brisbane

Phuket Double-Opening Boost for Novotel Resorts

Friday, September 24, 2010
TWO NEW Novotels are to open simultaneously on Phuket in 2012, adding 506 rooms to Phuket's supply of accommodation. News of the double-opening comes as Phuket resorts debate room rate strategies.

The appeal of holding a consistent rate or adopting the alternative of offering good prices to generate new business were both on display as the Phuket road show rolled on, into the Australian east coast city of Brisbane.

Which is best? The 87 Australian agents who turned out for the gathering are among those who have to decide. The gathering came after the Phuket group visited the Gold Coast, one of Australia's most famous beaches, but a destination that is currently suffering a downturn.

The Aussie dollar is so strong these days that travellers can find better value overseas - in destinations like Phuket.

And on Phuket, resort managements have to decide whether to hold room rates or offer ''incentives'' that amount to discounting. Both approaches are being adopted - with success.

Taking the set rate philosophy has done no harm at the Novotel Phuket Resort (four-star 215 rooms, 288 staff) where Director of Sales Novotel Resorts, Kobkaew Nark-Rod, attributes much of the success of the Patong landmark resort to setting rates and holding them.

Coming in 2012 are the Novotel Phuket Dahlia (four star 215 rooms) a city-style resort in Patong, and the Novotel Kamala (four star 255 rooms) on the beachfront, north of Patong.

''The original Novotel is about 13 years old now and remarkable for its privacy,'' Khun Kobkaew said. ''That's probably the main reason why people keep coming back, and why we have been able to hold occupancy at 75 percent all year long.''

Novotel is aware of changing demands and constantly seeking new markets to bolster its base of Australians and Europeans, Khun Kobkaew said.

''As circumstances change, the mix varies. So we would like to find new markets to maintain our position.''

The same principle applies at Twin Palms Phuket Resort near Surin beach, but the six-year old boutique resort uses discounts and now has the added objective of building an audience for the new east-coast Twin Palms on Cape Yamu.

Twin Palms at Surin has an occupancy rate of 75 percent, says Group Executive Manager (Sales & Marketing, Human Resources) Somjai Tungkoo. The aim now is to attract families to the east-coast resort, the first large project on Cape Yamu to reach completion.

As a Phuket person, Khun Somjai says the east coast retains much of the village charm that all of Phuket once used to have. The tourism industry is constantly changing.

Khun Kobkaew says that the requirements of some agents, especially those in Europe, are bemonig much more detailed, with up to 30 pages that could include questions about security, the environment, pool size, even whether the transfer buses has seat belts.

This could be seen as a good move by resorts that maintain standards. On Friday, the Phuket road show heads home, hoping for a positive outcome.

The curse of the Phuket road show may be dispelled. The island road show to Pusan in 2009 was quickly followed by the first red shirt invasion of a Pattaya resort set for Asean, then earlier this year the road show to Beijing was followed by the Bangkok strife. Third time lucky.

Phuketwan went on the Phuket road show to Sydney and Brisbane courtesy of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation.
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