What is the secret to success in sustainable, purposeful tourism? How do you manage a destination and a company that is driven by purpose but still grow effectively as a business? What is important for hoteliers and destination managers to focus on moving forward in Thailand and greater Southeast Asia?
These are the questions that are at the heart of Andre van der Marck‘s work in Thailand as Managing Director of ASIA DMC, which has just won Best Destination Management Company in Thailand at the World Travel Awards yet is just over 1 year old. Brian Greco sat down with Andre to learn more about what guides him and what the state of tourism in Thailand is and where it’s headed.
Andre’s theme is charting a new course for high-end travel that is different from the usual tourism trail and gets into the authentic heart of Thailand. He has lived in Thailand for almost two decades and knows the ins and outs of how to do destination management in this region. Here are some of the tidbits of his wisdom we picked up on:
#1: Tourism has a responsibility to the community. This was the theme throughout the conversation—being able to combine the desires of the client, the goals of the business, and the values of respecting the country (and its environment and culture).
#2: Good destination management means tailor-made experiences. ASIA DMC Thailand is a leader in offering alternative itineraries and more customized experiences that
#3: Understanding the needs of millennial clients is key. As has been discussed at length in current strategy on travel, the current generation marks a departure in the mass-market style of travel so common for tour operators. This distinction is critical.
**#4: Grow a business not just to grow, but to make an impact. **
#5: Focus on client dispersal. ASIA DMC’s clients can choose to explore many areas outside of the usual triangle of cities and thus partake in different parts of the country. This helps manage tourism flow more effectively while offering authentic experience.
#6: Encourage a new generation of guides and local talent. By promoting internal guide training and offering incentives for local economies to be a part of the tourism picture, Thailand can ensure that its guide continue to meet the needs of tourism demand.
#7: Partner with environmental initiatives to give back to the community. ASIA DMC Thailand has been at the forefront of supporting sustainability certifications such as Travelife as well as creating a campaign to end the use of styrofoam in Ha Long Bay.
#8: Set and stick to standards for your team. Create an internal culture that is values-driven. Give staff reasonable expectations about working hours and make sure tour operation is handled with the professionalism it deserves on all ends.
#9: Bridge the connection with client habits and interaction with the destination. Sometimes people are visiting a totally new part of the world and that requires education as to how to best approach and respect the local area.
#10: Changing the world happens one country at a time, one travel experience at a time!
Many thanks to Andre van der Marck for his contributions in this important aspect of the travel industry. While our focus is on hotels and hoteliers, destination managers are an essential component to create a winning recipe for travel as a whole. Special thanks also to the team at ASIA DMC Thailand and learn more here.