Expedia Group, the world’s largest online travel company that includes Expedia.com®, AirAsiaGo, Hotels.com® and other leading online travel brands, has released its 2017 full-year data revealing the latest trends in hotel demand and how these insights resonate with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s latest campaign ‘Open to the New Shades of Thailand.’
Further a hugely successful ‘Amazing Thailand’ campaign in 2017, TAT’s new campaign positions Thailand as a destination that offers Arts & Culture, Beach & Nature, Gastronomy amongst others. Ms. Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, Director of Market Management, Lodging Partner Services at Expedia Group, said: “Hoteliers can effectively reap the benefits of this new campaign by aligning their properties with one or more of its themes. When linked with relevant analytics and coupled with the appropriate outreach such as Expedia Group’s package offerings, hotel partners can effectively target new markets and find travelers who may potentially be more interested in their hotel due to a match in what they are looking for and what the hotel has to offer.”
Here are some emerging trends garnered from Expedia Group’s 675+ million monthly visits from across the globe:
- Arts & Culture: Chiang Rai and Sukhothai recorded healthy growth of over 50% YoY in inbound demand
Chiang Rai, also recognized as the pearl of Thailand’s northern province, recorded an outstanding +80% YoY inbound growth thanks to local hill-tribes and their distinctive customs that make for an intriguing cultural mix for intrepid travelers. Chiang Mai, on the other hand, experienced a relatively slower but still healthy growth at +30%.
While Asian travelers seem more interested in experiencing the local customs, European travelers from France, Germany and United Kingdom showed greater interest in exploring Thailand’s historical ruins.
Sukhothai, known for its ruins of Thailand’s first kingdom dating back over 700 years, experienced +50% YoY in inbound demand. Europeans alone attributed to more than half of this growth.
- Beach & Nature: Package bookings drive higher ADRs (average daily rates) in beach destinations while Khao Yai registers three-digit growth
 Source: Based on Expedia Group data on Thailand hotel demand for 2017 (January – December) compared with the same period in 2016.
While the top five most visited beach destinations among international travelers remained the same as 2016, Pattaya led the pack with YoY growth at +40% followed by Phuket and Hua Hin with its modest growth of +20%. On the other hand, Koh Samui and Krabi recorded relatively slower growth at around 10%.
Hotel partners operating in these top five beach destinations would be pleased to learn that Expedia Group’s package travelers paid 1.2 times more for their accommodations compared to standalone bookings. This demonstrates the importance of participating in Expedia Group’s packages, where travelers enjoy the convenience and savings from purchasing both flights and hotel accommodation bundled together. On average, package travelers tend to stay one more day and they are 50% less likely to cancel their trips due to the non-refundable flight element, as compared to standalone bookings. The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom led the growth for package demand to Thailand’s key beach destinations.
While nearly 7 in 10 bookings to Thailand comprise of one or more beach destinations, international visitors are also venturing beyond the beaten path. Upcoming beach destinations such as Koh Chang and Koh Lipe both recorded a healthy +30% growth.
Thanks to Khao Yai National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with wildlife and primeval jungles, Khao Yai recorded an outstanding three-digit growth at +160% YoY. Over half of these visitors are from South East Asia countries with Singapore topping in the first place, accounting for nearly 40% of Khao Yai’s overall inbound demand.
- Gastronomy: Bangkok’s YoY inbound demand up by +40%
Bangkok attracted the attention of foodies worldwide when it was named the world’s top street food city. Michelin then launched its first edition Michelin Guide Bangkok, featuring a total of 98 restaurants. These recent developments highlight how Bangkok embraces international dining while spotlighting its own rich culinary heritage and authentic Thai cuisine.
While Japanese travelers place the highest importance on food experience, Australian visitors ranked food as the second most important factor influencing their choice of travel destination according to a recent Asia Pacific Travel Trends research. Expedia Group data for Bangkok supported these findings as Japan was ranked top three inbound markets while Australia was one of the fastest growing inbound market amongst Thailand’s top ten feeder markets, injecting a healthy double-digit growth into Bangkok.
“We have seen a growing interest for our fine-dining restaurants from international guests who stay at our hotel. At the same time, over the last year, we have been receiving more enquiries from travelers requesting for restaurant
 Source: Expedia Media Solutions Research: Asia Pacific Travel Trends 2017 https://info.advertising.expedia.com/hubfs/Northstar-APAC-final.pdf
recommendations nearby our hotel that offers exquisite cuisine,” said Gary Tay, Director of Revenue Management, The Peninsula Bangkok Hotel “Interestingly, most of these enquiries were from Japanese, Hong Kong, and Singaporean travelers. Unlike decades ago where Asian travelers were shy from indulging in fine cuisine, Asian travelers have become the gourmet experts!”