“It was more of a matter of good timing,” explains MeetinThailand Business Development Manager & Managing Editor Markus Vogt. “After that it was just a matter of using simple, but critical, management tools to bring it all together,” he said.
Today, MeetinThailand.com, developed under Phuket’s own IMAGE asia, already features more than 160 suppliers – convention venues, caterers, logistics support companies, among others – and the website launched only in November.
“The site was actually built by last July, but the back-end testing and building took a few months to make sure everything was right,” Mr Vogt recalls.
The trick was keeping the web development team on track, he notes.
“Once you have a good team, they just need to be kept to schedule. Like all enthusiastic I.T. developers, they are not worried about whether a site is live – they are concerned if anything is not right even before the site is launched and still offline,” Mr Vogt says.
“Of all things, a simple project schedule was the most valuable tool of all. Keeping a large project simple so it remains manageable and the individuals each just focus on the next task at hand is what brought it all together,” he adds.
That foundation remains a key factor in MeetinThailand’s rapid growth. Koh Samui will be brought online by early March and other locales lined up include Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. The portal will also feature a host of regional destinations in central, northern, northeastern and southern Thailand.
“Many of these lesser-known destinations offer the special experience of an event remote from the beaten track, but without sacrificing the unique appeal of holding your event in Thailand – the welcome, the professionalism and the will to make your event a huge success,” Mr Vogt explains.
The regional aspect is not lost on MeetinThailand’s business plan. The TCEB (Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau) reported that Thailand’s MICE industry last year attracted 1.06 million international MICE travellers pumping B92 billion into the Thai economy, with the top source markets China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, the USA, Laos, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
“For 2017, the TCEB forecasts 1.2 million international MICE visitors,” Mr Vogt notes, and that is with a predicted revenue generation of B101bn for the country.
Yet, despite the growth of the Thai MICE industry in recent years, what has remained missing is a bridge to bring a wide range of event service suppliers and buyers together in a single portal
“We have a niche market, not millions of users – and this is the big challenge,” Mr Vogt says. “It’s no longer a matter of a buyer (event organiser) contacting a hotel giving the event away (to the hotel) to be organised. I want to go further.
“If the buyer wants a much wider choice for destinations, hotels, transportation right down to attractions and even restaurants in the area where the event is to be held, he can find everything here. That’s our unique selling factor,” he explains.
In short, service suppliers upload their profile and list what they can provide, buyers log in and start shopping.
“Buyers can create a template of everything they want for an event, then select suppliers they are interested in to their wishlist. Then, with one click they can send out the initial contact form,” Mr Vogt explains.
They can also separate suppliers by groups.
“Say I have six hotels I want to talk to, a couple of transportation companies, and so on – maybe up to 15 suppliers, Mr Vogt adds.
“I can send the contact form to a separate buyer group at the one time so I can include additional information relevant to that group, then send the contact template to another group of suppliers with extra information relevant to that group.
“From there on it is direct contact, and we are out of the negotiations. The form is sent directly to the supplier, and the supplier replies directly to the buyer.”
In all, simplicity is key, Mr Vogt notes.
“With so many aspects to consider, what we bring to the table is a one-stop solution with the greatest range of choice of suppliers, which makes the buyers’ role so much easier – and no-one else is doing that,” he says.