Q1. How should TLM position itself?
TLM’s core product is hospitality but the international marketing of Thailand as a long stay tourist destination. It differentiates Thailand from its competitors is the responsibility of the government through the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
TLM’s work should complement the work of TAT, by marketing Thailand specifically to the niche markets of senior tourists. TLM’s role is to provide a concrete service to secure customer confidence to spend a longer period in Thailand. As a management company, TLM acts as a matchmaker, coordinating long stay related agencies from both the public and private sectors.
The goal is to put Thailand and TLM on the minds of anyone who is thinking about having a long stay in a foreign country. Because long stay tourists from each target country have different sets of basic requirements, preferences and expectations, TLM has to design its product to meet specific customer needs.
For example, European long stay tourists are interested in nature, while those from Japan insist on receiving Japanese style services. Long stay packages may be designed specifically to meet customer needs, such as health package that takes advantage of Thailand’s affordable world class health care.
USP’s of TLM
TLM helps to create the image of an exotic and unique culture, yet safe, secure and relaxing long stay in Thailand in the minds of its target customers. The ‘service’ mindset of Thai people (‘The Land of Smiles’) in many ways captures this positioning.
The marketing of an entire country to niche markets with different preferences is more than brand image creation and requires joint effort from both the public and private sectors. The basic criteria that need to be met by Thailand as a country calls for government level initiatives such as;
- the tourist police system,
- creation of a special long stay visa,
- change in regulations to allow foreigners to open a Thai bank account,
- road signs in English
At the micro level for example, TLM needs to screen the quality of service providers who are involved in its long stay package provision and set up a call center to service Royal Key members. Given the diversity of needs that new visitors will have, TLM will need to provide an efficient and friendly 24/7 service.
Convenience and quality assurances are intangible concepts, but TLM will need to deliver actual benefits and solutions to any problems that might crop up, by providing to long stay tourists who buy into its loyalty program (Royal Key membership).
Target Marketing Loyalty Program
The target marketing of TLM’s loyalty program to seniors can also be done internationally and domestically– locally through inbound tour agents, foreign clubs and organizations; internationally by forming a network of alliances with potential mass marketers on TLM’s behalf. Such as senior associations and retiree/pension organizations, and various businesses involved in travel and tourism.
E-commerce is also an additional channel for conducting business. Eventually, when business volume is higher, TLM will have to consider opening overseas branches in key target countries. Understanding the precise needs and wants of niche markets is key to the design of TLM’s product.
Developing a 3-year marketing strategy
Marketers should address the following issues to develop a 3-years marketing strategy for any organization:
- Broad marketing objectives
- SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
- Competitor analysis (direct & indirect competitors; other countries are competitors, as well as other service organizations offering comprehensive tourist packages within Thailand)
- Key success factors
- Target markets (here students would be wise to select 2-3 countries as key targets so as to truly understand the needs, profiles etc. of that market)
- Specific goals for years 1-3 (number of tourists by target country, number of memberships, satisfaction ratings etc.
- Strategies & tactics based around the 7 P’s
Year 1: The Focus might be on: Product and Marketing Channel Development
- Set up a preliminary functioning website.
- Establish the TLM loyalty program.
- Establish a call center.
- Refine all TLM services to meet specific demands and preferences of each target group accordingly.
- Establish agreed minimum service standards for all service suppliers
- Coordinate with government agencies in order to facilitate all processing required by long stay tourists.
- Select and build up domestic alliances to serve TLM’s long stay package
- Pilot long stay package in coordination with TLM’s Japanese shareholders
- Market TLM internationally through Thai government agencies overseas, and through TLM’s Japanese shareholders.
- Build overseas alliance network.
Year 2 Focus: Expand Alliance Networking
- Expand alliances with quality local service providers who serve a more varied long stay package.
- Expand overseas alliance network as marketing channels.
- Improve and enlarge the TLM call center.
- Stimulate higher quality and standards among local service provider alliances in accordance with international practice.
Year 3 Focus: Expansion and Development
- Continue to expand domestic and overseas alliance network.
- Open TLM branch offices in key areas of Bangkok and key tourist provinces of Thailand.
- Set up TLM branch offices in countries with high volume of potential long stay tourists.
Use of Marketing 7 Ps in this Case Study
In terms of the 7 Ps marketing researchers might consider:
- TLM’s competitiveness is in the uniqueness, mystique of the Thai culture, and genuine friendliness of the Thai people – especially in high contact services (medical, massage, etc.). However, it can also be achieved by developing a true understanding and knowledge of precise consumer’s needs.
- Understanding the precise needs and wants of niche markets is key to the design of TLM’s product. Long stay tourists from each target country have different sets of basic requirements, preferences and expectations, TLM must design its product to meet specific customer needs.
- Hospitality management: acts as a matchmaker, coordinating long stay related agencies from both the public and private sectors.
- Provide concrete service to secure customer confidence: create the image of a desirable, safe, secure and enjoyable long stay in Thailand in the minds of its target customers.
- Screen the quality of service providers who are involved in its long stay package provision, set up a call center, for example. Convenience and quality assurances
- Delivers actual benefits and solutions to any problems that might crop up, by providing to long stay tourists who buy into its loyalty program (Royal Key membership).
Place (distribution channel)
- Inbound tour/travel agents and foreign organizations in Thailand will need to be considered here.
- Through alliances internationally and domestically– locally through inbound tour agents, foreign clubs and organizations; internationally by forming a network of alliances with potential mass marketers on TLM’s behalf, such as senior associations and retiree/pension organizations, and various businesses involved in travel and tourism.
- Opening TLM overseas branches in key target countries
- E-commerce opportunities
- Objective: put the desired image Thailand in the minds of anyone who is thinking about having a long stay in a foreign country.
- Promotional allowance for loyalty program (Royal Key membership) distributors (local and overseas)
- Promotion in coordination with Thai government agencies in target countries
Price: Above average pricing (not luxury/exorbitant)
Seniors have money but little time and limited health left to enjoy it. They are willing to spend to buy services that provides convenience i.e., comfort, pleasure and satisfaction. They also desire timesaving and frustration avoidance and are prepared to pay for it.
The genuine service mind of most Thais and their willingness to provide smiling service needs to be used in promoting long stay. Furthermore, service standards at all participating organizations need to be standardized so visitors do not have to experience highly variable levels of service.
Theses need to be made as convenient and easy as possible, e.g., visa documentation, membership, getting 24/7 access to a service Centre to solve problems during a stay.
The natural beauty of Thailand needs to be portrayed in advertising as well as the Thai people themselves.