With more than 30 years working experience at Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Chanchai Doungjit was recently promoted to the position of director of the Western U.S. and Latin America. In his new role, Doungjit is trying to get the message out to agents and their clients that Thailand is both a safe destination and one that is a tremendous value.
What are some of the ways you plan on reaching out to the travel agent community?
We will continue to do our marketing as in the past with trade shows, joint promotions with industry partners, specialist courses and information distribution. We recently brought 16 of our Thailand travel partners to the U.S. for road shows in Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto and New York, which was very well received by the travel trade.
What are some misconceptions travel agents have about Thailand?
With Thailand being a long-haul destination for Americans, it is thought to be expensive but, in fact, it is a tremendous value. Many agents have been able to put together tours to Thailand for the same price as a Caribbean or Hawaiian tour, while offering the exotic appeal of Thailand.
With the Ultimate Thailand Explorers competition, TAT is giving away free trips to Thailand and more. What, exactly, are the prizes and the rules of this competition?
Applications were open to teams of two — such as friends, siblings, couples, family members or colleagues — who submitted a short but entertaining audition video explaining why they want to travel to Thailand and how they will promote their preferred destination to the world.
From the pool of audition videos we received, a panel of judges will select 25 semi-finalists, whose audition videos will be posted on UltimateThailandExplorers.com and registered voters will select the five finalist teams via the Web site from Oct. 19 to Nov. 12.
The five finalist teams competing in the Ultimate Thailand Explorers event will be flown to Bangkok on Emirates Airlines for an event briefing, a welcome party and a press conference.
The five teams will have six days to travel around their selected destinations and explore the many attractions, sights, activities and other features found there. To promote the destinations, the contestants are required to share their daily experiences with a global audience by posting photos, videos, blogs and travel stories with social media tools. After that period of online voting (Dec. 10-8), the team that receives the most votes will be named the Ultimate Thailand Explorers and will receive $10,000 cash; a holiday package valued at $3,000; roundtrip air tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand; Blackberry phones; spa treatments and other prizes.
Are there any upcoming fams that agents can take advantage of?
Both TAT and China Airlines are celebrating our 50th birthdays. In celebration of this special occasion, we are planning to do a joint mega-fam in the spring, taking 50 agents/media from the U.S. to Thailand. It will be broken down into three trips featuring different parts of Thailand but all three groups will meet in Bangkok for a major birthday party.