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Tue 1 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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Etihad drives Bangkok DMC’s business


Bangkok-based DMC, Pacific World is pulling out all the stops to cater to the influx of Etihad Holidays customers to Thailand this summer.

“Etihad Holidays bookings are going through the roof.

We are planning to expand our reservations team [for Etihad] now the airline has increased its flights [from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok] to double daily,†explained Norman Allin, director of leisure travel, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

“We are also trying to find more rooms in the Sukhumvit area [of Bangkok] where the Arab guests like to stay, because most hotels and apartments are booked out as they are so popular.

We have found some new two- and three- bedroom apartments that will free-up around 450 rooms.â€

Allin said the company, which was recently bought by UK tour operator, First Choice for

US $37 million, and currently dedicates between two and three staff to Etihad bookings, was considering doubling this number during the busy summer period.

“We are also changing our opening times to match those in the Gulf so that staff now work Sunday to Thursday instead of Monday to Friday. It hasn’t been a popular decision, but it is necessary,†he added.

Etihad Airways upped the frequency on its Bangkok service from 10 per week to double daily on June 4 and since then “it’s been a matter of sheer desperation to find availability†in the Sukhumvit area, said Allin.

“We have tried to encourage guests to stay elsewhere in Bangkok by offering good hotel deals, but they won’t venture outside of Sukhumvit because it’s near the area known as Little Arabia, as well as the American Bumruntrat Hospital, (which is frequented by Arab nationals seeking medical treatments or check ups),†he explained.

“It’s a matter of educating both them and travel agents that there are hotels just one train stop away from this area that are suitable.â€

Allin is also hoping to educate Bangkok hoteliers about what services they should provide for Arab nationals.

“The hotels would be better off not offering breakfast because this market tends to get up late.

They should also ensure there is a Kiblat (sign pointing to Mecca) in the room, because otherwise, some Muslim guests have been known to burn an iron mark in the floor as a substitute,†he explained.

More than 15% of Pacific World’s business is Etihad-related and Allin expects this to reach 25% by next year.

The company also organises ground arrangements for Gulf Air Holidays and is now planning to focus on growing MICE business from the GCC.

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