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- 15 Sep 2014
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The Most Popular Luxury Destinations & Hotel Brands in Thailand

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Millennium Hilton, Bangkok


Globally, which Thai destinations are the most desired by luxury travellers? And which specific luxury properties are they most-searching for?

2013 was a bright year for Tourism in Thailand. According to the UNWTO, Thailand was the 10th most visited country in the world, attracting 27 million international visitors, an increase of 19% in just one year. Visitors to Thailand increased their spending by 23% in 2013, injecting $42 billion into the local economy.

In late 2013 Thailand entered a six-month period of political crisis, before the commander of the Royal Thai army launched a coup d’état against the caretaker government of Thailand, establishing the National Council for Peace and Order to govern the nation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the country had already seen the number of visitors shrink by almost 400,000 in the first four months of 2013, falling nearly 5% on-year between January-April. As the crisis intensified following the coup, the number of visitors was expected to decline 10%-12% in May from the year-earlier period.”


 Visitors to Thailand shrank by almost 400,000 in the first four months of 2013 


Chinese tourism in particular took a hit, decreasing 19% between January-April in 2014. Marking a significant drop from the 93% increase in Mainland Chinese visitors during the same period in 2013, as large-scale tour operators and first-time-travellers cancelled their trips in face of political turmoil.

Half-year figures for 2014 remain unknown, yet it would not be surprising to see Thailand disappear from the Top 10 most-visited destinations, given the significant drop in visitors caused by the political crisis. According to The Tourism Authority of Thailand, International Visitor Arrivals are already down approximately 10% compared to 2013.

Overall, searches related to luxury hotels and travel destinations in Thailand – based on unbiased searches in 20 geographical markets – have declined significantly, as have searches for specific luxury hotels in the region. Overall searches for luxury hotel brands (in Thailand) and Thai luxury destinations were both down 11% on the same period in 2013 (Q2).


 Overall searches related to luxury hotels & travel destinations in Thailand have declined 


Interest in individual properties has dropped up to 25% in some cases, though the majority of the properties that witnessed a drop in search volume over 20% were in Bangkok, at the heart of the political crisis and resistance movement.

Here, using Digital Luxury Group’s proprietary DemandTracker technology, we look at the most-searched-for luxury holiday destinations in Thailand, and the most-searched for luxury brand hotels. Based on unbiased search-intentions in 20 markets, from April – June 2014, as compared to Q2 2013.


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5 Most Searched for Destinations in Thailand

Despite a significant drop in search volume (-17%), Bangkok remains the most-searched for destination in Thailand, capturing a 46% share of search. Phuket confirms its place as Thailand’s most popular/well known beach resort destination, ranking second, followed by fellow leisure destinations Hua Hin, Pattaya and Koh Samui.

The majority of search volumes based on destinations fell in Q2 2014, when compared to the same period in 2013. Interest in Koh Tao, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand, dropped the most significantly (-22%), followed by Bangkok, followed by Chiang Mai in the country’s North (15%).

That said, interest in Krabi rose 5% at a time that interest in neighbouring Phuket dropped by 10%, perhaps signalling a maturation in the interests of visitors to the country. As Phuket becomes more developed to western tastes, more seasoned Thai explorers could be looking for less populated and more authentic alternatives. The same could be theorised for increased interest in Chiang Rai (up 4%), versus a decline in Chiang Mai (down 15%).


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9 Most Desired Hotel Brands in Thailand

Searches for all luxury hotel brands related to Thai destinations were down by 11%, reflecting the overall decline in tourism in early-mid 2014. Even for the most-searched for luxury hotel brand in Thailand, Hilton, which captured almost 10% of search, compared to the same period last year interest dropped by 10%.

Indeed search volumes for Banyan Tree (#3), Sofitel (#6) and Intercontinental (#15) in Thai destinations all dropped by over 10%. The biggest drops amongst all brands tracked came from searches for St. Regis (-30%), Mandarin Oriental (-29%), Kempinski (-28%) and Banyan Tree (-23%).

All of these luxury hotel brands have properties in Bangkok, which could likely explain the decline. In the case of St. Regis, Mandarin Oriental and Kempinski, their only properties in Thailand are indeed in the capital, and therefore perhaps not considered during a period of travel warnings and often violent social clashes that unfolded in the city.


 Searches for all luxury hotel brands related to Thai destinations were down by 11% 


The only luxury hotel brand (of those tracked) that demonstrated an increase in interest was Conrad – a Hilton brand – which has one hotel in Bangkok (opened 2003) and one in Koh Samui (opened 2011), both of which also have Residence properties.

Whether or not related, the Bangkok property was recognized as the Best Luxury City Hotel in Thailand at the 2013 World Luxury Hotel Awards, and the Koh Samui property was named the Best Luxury Wellness Spa for Asia in 2013 by the World Luxury Spa Awards. In 2014, both Thailand hotels received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Award.

The only luxury hotel brand (of those tracked) that demonstrated an increase in interest was Conrad – a Hilton brand – which has one hotel in Bangkok (opened 2003) and one in Koh Samui (opened 2011), both of which also have Residence properties.

Whether or not related, the Bangkok property was recognized as the Best Luxury City Hotel in Thailand at the 2013 World Luxury Hotel Awards, and the Koh Samui property was named the Best Luxury Wellness Spa for Asia in 2013 by the World Luxury Spa Awards. In 2014, both Thailand hotels received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Award.


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Most Desired Hotel Brands in Thailand

Again, when it comes to searches for specific properties, the majority of search volumes declined – as much as over 20% – for properties based in Bangkok. Properties that lost the most interest from consumers were the Bangkok locations of Banyan Tree, Anantara, Shangri-La, Peninsula and Hilton.

The only increase that was registered was for the Sheraton brand in Hua Hin. This is perhaps due to the October 2013 launch of the Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas in Prachuap Khirikhan, which was the conversion and rebrand of a 55-villa property, owned by owned by Honor Business Company Limited.

This re-launch, in addition to Sheraton’s existing Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa that opened in 2007, is likely to have increased the search interest in the brand in this particular destination.


 Bangkok has a lion’s grip on the top spot 


What remains clear is that Bangkok has a lion’s grip on the top spot, when it comes to the most-desirable destinations in Thailand. Not only did the capital attract 46% of all Thai-travel-destination searches, but also eight-out-of-ten of the most searched for properties were also in the city.

What remains less clear is the long-term impact of the political crisis on tourism. Currently there are no travel warnings about Thailand issued by countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia or the United States. The nationwide curfew imposed by the National Council for Peace and Order has been lifted as of 13th June, and all tourism-related businesses and services throughout the kingdom have resumed normal operations.

The Thailand Tourism Authority has implemented several measures aimed at improving traveller experience in the country and returning over-developed resort areas back to their more pristine states. They have also confirmed that there is now hardly any military presence in major tourist destinations.

Therefore it will be interesting to see how these changes impact international arrivals to the country in the latter-part of 2014, and whether or not interest online will increase in the coming months.





The World Luxury Index is an on-going international ranking and analysis of the most searched-for brands within the luxury industry, covering over 400+ brands within six key segments.

The unbiased information is derived from 680 million consumer online searches originating from leading search engines Baidu and Google. Please see previous editions below:

- Chanel Overtakes Louis Vuitton in Chinese Share of Search
- Luxury Auto Brands Lead Share of Online Search in Brazil
- The Most Sought-After Luxury Watch Brands in China


more

DemandTracker™ is a data collection solution for keyword phrases searches on different platforms. Built-in semantic analysis allows for in-depth understanding of spontaneous interest of the prospective clientele for any kind of pre-defined topic.

digitalluxurygroup.com