In keeping with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) global focus on quality versus absolute numbers, TAT Mumbai tied up with Thailand’s most exclusive standalone and chain hotels for the event titled Amazing Thailand Luxurious Pleasure Road show.Kittipong Prapattong, Director, TAT ASEAN, South Asia & South Pacific Market Division, who travelled to India especially for the event, defined TAT’s luxury strategy globally and in India. “We want to attract travellers who are looking for a higher quality of experience in Thailand. This doesn’t mean an exclusive focus on the niche HNI segment. Even the middle class qualifies as our target audience if they are at incremental spends towards an extraordinary experience in Thailand that might not be accessible (even with extra investment) in many other parts of the world,” he said, going on to offer an example. “Yacht vacations in most parts of the world are out of reach except for the world’s HNIs. In Thailand, the experience is an expensive, luxurious proposition but would still be within reach for many. Luxury implies high spenders as well as those looking to have authentic experiences in Thailand.”Prapattong summed it up as, “The idea is to promote the luxury of EXPERIENCING (this calls for more investment but also more time, effort, involvement…all characteristics of a more mature traveller) rather than the less involved experience of simply SEEING things.”Over a dozen suppliers, including hotels and destination management companies, were present at the event. The added benefit for invitees to the closed-door event was the participation of regional TAT offices from parts of Thailand that are nascent but growing in popularity for the well-travelled, discerning Indian. Soraya Homchuen, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand – Mumbai office said, “TAT representatives from our regional offices in Chiang Rai, Koh Samui and Trat joined the delegation. Their participation was definitely an opportunity because they were able to share the intricacies of travel planning and execution in these destinations. Each of them experienced tremendous interest from attending travel trade.”Isra Stapanaseth, Director, TAT Chiang Rai said, “We get about 1,000 Indian travellers a year and this is encouraging because Chaing Rai is brand new for India. Chiang Mai, our more popular cousin came up only a few years ago and now Chiang Rai’s popularity is on the rise.”Saiphayom Somsuk, Chief of Koh Samui Coordination Centre, TAT Samui said that the island destination welcomes about 10,5000 Indians a year. “What is interesting is that they are amongst the highest spenders in Koh Samui. Over 70 travel agents visited our booth at the roadshow, showing special interest in adding the area’s famous Full Moon Party to their itineraries. This is in keeping with our strategy of opening up Koh Phangan (the island where the party takes place every month) to the Indian market.”The idea of the roadshow was also to open up entirely new destinations. Wanaphapar Suksombul, Director, TAT Trat shared, “63 agents approached us at the roadshow, of which only seven even knew where Trat is. Trat is brand new for India. However we have already prepared ourselves to welcome Indian travellers. Trat recently opened up for Indian groups and as such Indian food is easily available at our island destinations.” She said that she expects the Indian honeymoon segment to enjoy Koh Mak and Koh Kood while the Indian family segment is likely to be drawn to Koh Chang.Homchuen said that TAT Mumbai is looking forward to strengthening its position as a luxury destination. “We have definitely seen a firm shift as a direct result of our luxury-oriented initiatives in this market – from advertising to media and trade FAMs and of course, the important deals inked during earlier editions of our luxury roadshow. We have put special effort into bringing in brand new, hitherto unseen hotels and experiences to India for this third edition and I am certain that the travel trade has benefitted from the sellers they met at the roadshow”Among branded chain-linked hotels, the delegation included the Minor Hotel Group, the Conrad Koh Samui, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (A Luxury Collection Hotel) and Sofitel Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort.Among standalone hotels, attendees found novelty value in Keemala, which is all set to bring ultimate luxury to barefoot chic accommodation concepts such as tree houses, when it opens in December. Iniala, a 10-room villa (made famous by Kim Kardashian’s month-long family vacation in Phuket prior to her wedding to Kanye West) was part of the delegation and invited great interest from the attending travel trade.Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways were part of the delegation with the goal of inking special agreements with attending travel agents and destination management companies AM Interservice and Travstore brought logistical expertise that Mumbai’s travel trade will require in order to sell new destinations to India’s high flyers going ahead, especially as the peak travel season rounds the corner. Thailand Elite Card, a programme that promotes repeat travel through discounts and privileges extended to card-holder showcased their product at the road show.