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15 May, 2014

Avoid the Protests: Bangkok’s Traffic-free River to the Rescue

As Bangkok struggles to stay afloat in the midst of the ongoing political uncertainty, it’s most important icon, the Chao Phraya river, is set to come to the rescue.

Eight upmarket hotels have joined forces under an umbrella grouping known as the Bangkok Riverside Marketing Partnership to position their location as the primary Leisure and MICE destination in Bangkok!

img-515094421-0001The eight hotels are the Anantara Bangkok Riverside & Spa, Chatrium Hotel Riverside; Mandarin Oriental; Millennium Hilton; The Peninsula; Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside; Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers and the Shangri-La.

In total, they offer a total of 4,152 bedrooms, 109 meeting rooms, 10 ballrooms, 42 restaurants, 17 bars, 10 swimming pools, 8 spas/fitness centres and at least 28 shops.

The idea is to promote the river and their common facilities for leisure, incentives and conferences. Behind the scenes, the word is going out that staying at one of the riverside hotels is probably the best way of totally avoiding the street protests.

Bangkok’s network of canals and the Skytrain links now allow leisure guests, business travellers and MICE delegates staying at the riverside hotels to visit virtually any part of Bangkok without having to use the roads.

Said Mr. Bert van Walbeek, managing director of The Winning Edge and coordinator of the partnership, said, “There are no traffic jams on the Chao Phraya river. The eight General Managers realized the win-win-win benefits of the Riverside positions and the profitable advantages of their unique selling proposition for all partners !”

The entire city of Bangkok was founded on the river, which has been one of the traditional historic mainstays. In the old days, it was a major channel of communications, commerce and transportation. An entire network of canals grew up alongside, giving Bangkok the claim to fame as being the Venice of the East.

The river was also the primary claim to fame of the once-dominant property, The Oriental, for many years named the best hotel in the world until going into a decline after the departure of former General Manager Kurt Wachtveitl.

img-515094359-0001Mr. van Walbeek is reviving a concept he himself pioneered when he first came to Bangkok as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Royal Orchid Sheraton in 1986.

Today, there are reportedly nearly 50 hotels along the river. Mr. van Walbeek said just getting together eight hotel GMs and marketing directors had been enough of a challenge and would keep him busy for a while. He said other hotels would be more than welcome to join after the partnership gains traction.

According to the media release, the partnership will complement the numerous marketing and promotional activities of the Bangkok city government, the Thailand Convention and Promotion Bureau, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thailand Incentive & Convention Association.

They will include training MICE sales forces on destination selling, enhancing familiarization tours and presence at regional trade shows. CSR activities will also be covered such as releasing fish in the Chao Phraya River on Songkran Day, mangrove tree planting, water conservation, fund raising and river-cleaning projects.

The partnership is operating on the basis of a pooled budget calculated at the rate of one baht per room per day.

Click on any of the images for more details.