By Staff writer
Bangkok-based DMC, Pacific World is pulling out all the stops to cater to the influx of Etihad Holidays customers to Thailand this summer.
â€œEtihad 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,â€ explained Norman Allin, director of leisure travel, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
â€œWe 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.
â€œWe 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 hasnâ€™t been a popular decision, but it is necessary,â€ he added.
Etihad Airways upped the frequency on its Bangkok service from 10 per week to double daily on June 4 and since then â€œitâ€™s been a matter of sheer desperation to find availabilityâ€ in the Sukhumvit area, said Allin.
â€œWe have tried to encourage guests to stay elsewhere in Bangkok by offering good hotel deals, but they wonâ€™t venture outside of Sukhumvit because itâ€™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),â€ he explained.
â€œItâ€™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.
â€œThe 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,â€ he explained.
More than 15% of Pacific Worldâ€™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.