The ‘Value’ of Southeast Asia
By Alvin Materi, Group Director of Sales and Business Development Manager, Destination Asia
Given shrinking budgets and demanding clients who are expecting ‘million dollar’ programs for half that price, changing the destination perspective can sometimes make that a reality. So often, our international focus tends to be on Western Europe while today, more exceptional values can be found in Eastern Europe, Latin American and Asia.
For example, during this economic downturn I have heard too many times to count how expensive Europe has become. With the strengthening Pound and Euro, it’s no secret that stretching that US Dollar into a workable budget is getting harder and harder in Western Europe. A lot of buyers can no longerÂ afford 5-star hotels in Paris, or Italian off-site venues offering a memorable experience with the current exchange rate and economic situation.
Having spent the better part of the past two decades living in the Asia-Pacific region I admittedly have a bias towards that part of the world, however there has never been a more exciting, or affordable time to look to Asia for your next meeting or incentive. For those who’ve never traveled in Asia you’ll find:
* Service levels at hotels and venues that set world standards (according to numerous frequent traveler surveys). Asian hotels, airports, airlines and restaurants tend to dominate many of the top ten lists around the world.
* Incredible variety in culture, history, cuisine, activities and experiences in a continent as varied as any on Earth
* An English-speaking populace making it easy to fit in. English is required in the school systems of many Asian nations making it easier for English-only speakers to get around in Bangkok, Singapore or Hong Kong than in Paris, Rome or Madrid.
Today your dollar simplyÂ goes farther in Southeast Asia, and here’s why …
Cue: Pink Floyd’s classic song ‘Money’… ‘Money / It’s a Hit / I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set /And I think I need a Lear jet.’Â Royal Caribbean Cruise Line once developed a commercial for the Super Bowl using this classic Pink Floyd song, but pulled the idea when the bands financial terms were deemed too steep .. I guess that’s where the real money is. But for those of us wishing to create memorable events while saving dollars, consider the following four “values” offered by Asia:Â
Value for Money:
Look no further that Thailand, the ‘Land of Smiles’. Bangkok boasts more than 70,000 rooms; many overlooking the iconic Chao Phraya River seen in so many films and photos.Â These days,Â three nights in Bangkok would cost aboutÂ the same as oneÂ night in a comparable hotel in London. Plus you’ll get that special touch of Asian hospitality.Â
More Destinations to choose from for your Dollar:
Southeast Asia is as diverse as Europe in language, culture, landscape, history and cuisine. Its, not just a single destination but a myriad of countries and cultures, contrasting landscapes and a rich history dating back thousands of years. . Short internal flights have you combining French-era Vietnamese Architecture with magnificent Balinese Temples or the Pristine Beaches of Southern Thailand. Haven’t flown on an Asian Airline for a few years- you should! Full Service on Thai Airways or Cathay Pacific still means Full Service, and these airlines are a true joy to fly with.
More Bang for your Buck- World Heritage Sites You Must See:
Southeast Asia is home to many culturally significant sites, but none as spectacular as these three must sees UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Halong Bay- boasting over 3000 limestone peaks and serving as the backdrop for the classic French film ‘Indochine’ starring Catherine Deneuve.Â
Angkor Wat- amongÂ the most important archaeological sites in the world. Extending some 150 square miles and including the most important structures of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9thÂ to the 15thÂ century Cambodia.Â
Dining and Off-site Venues- Dollars & Sense:
Southeast Asia’s Stylish and sophisticated restaurants rival anything you will find anywhere in the world… and at about one-third the cost of Western Europe. Choose from modern and fashionable restaurants in Bangkok, Historic venues in Hanoi with walls that could tell stories, or off-site venues in one of the many historic citadels found throughout Southeast Asia.
In our world of shrinking budgets and value driven choices don’t overlook options like Eastern Europe, Latin American and of course, Asia. Your dollar goes further in all three and all of them offer some stunning options that can keep international travel in your budget.
Alvin Materi is the Group Director of Sales and Business Development Manager for Destination Asia. Destination Asia is a full service destination management company headquartered in Bangkok with 21 operating offices throughout Thailand, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bali and Laos. Alvin has an extensive travel background, from operations experience with Royal Caribbean Cruises to MICE programs with Destination Asia in Vietnam, to a senior sales role with a major New Zealand inbound DMC.