Our Chazen trip to Thailand was one for the books. Our group of 24 landed on a Friday and spent the next 8 days traveling the country, meeting with senior executives of some of the biggest Thai companies, and experiencing the culture and history of the country. For many of us, including myself, Thailand was the first Asian country we were visiting. The Buddhist history and influence, delicious local cuisine, and incredibly hospitable and welcoming Thai people made for a warm welcome to Asia. Our group was especially grateful to our three trip leads, the professor, and the Chazen Institute for planning an incredible trip.
Company Visit Reflections
Our 8 company visits were varied and insightful. We saw and heard from some of the largest and most dominant Thai companies. From a major hotel and resort chain to Thailand’s second largest real estate development company, our group learned firsthand about how retail, real estate, and hospitality drive the Thai economy.
1. Six Senses, Koh Samui
Given that much of the Thai economy is tourism and ecotourism, our group found this visit very relevant. Koh Samui is a major vacation destination, so it was insightful to see one of the premier resorts on the island and learn about how and why so many people want to vacation here.
2. Major Cineplex
This was our first company visit in Bangkok. Given how huge the mall culture is in Bangkok vs. the US., I think our group found this visit to be fascinating. The movie theater was unlike anything we had seen before. Our group probably had the most questions for the speaker (the Chief Marketing Officer) than any other visit.
3. Central Retail Corporation
The trip would not have been complete without a company visit to Central Retail Corporation. The company owns and operates luxury malls across Thailand, and we learned firsthand how these malls operate and maintain their profitability.
4. Central JD Commerce
Central JD Commerce is the leading e-commerce business in Thailand. It is relatively new foray into e-commerce for Central Group, Thailand’s biggest retailer, and JD.Com, China’s largest e-commerce firm. Given that this was a retail trek, I thought it was important to hear the Thai e-commerce perspective. We learned a lot about how e-commerce might evolve in Bangkok and the rest of the country, and how Central Group seems confident that e-commerce won’t cannibalize strong in-store sales.
5. Central Pattana
It was exciting to hear from another major shopping center company, especially since this company is Thailand’s number one shopping center and retail developer. The company manages 25 shopping malls, as well as several office buildings, residential buildings, hotels, water parks, and recreational parks.
6. Thai Beverage
Thai Beverage is a leading market player in the alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages, and food products industries in Thailand and internationally. Our group learned a lot about the consumption habits of Thai people during the visit – Thai people generally drink sweet spirits and are relatively heavy consumers. There were several presenters during our visit, all of whom focused on a specific segment of Thai Beverage. We learned about the marketing campaigns, the company’s interactions with the government/legal system, and how the company is evolving to offer healthier options for consumers.
7. Sansiri Public Company Limited
Sansiri is the second largest property developer in Thailand (over 300 to be exact). We visited Sansiri’s flagship property development project, a luxury apartment building located in central Bangkok. While at the luxury building, we had the chance to meet with the President of Sansiri, Srettha Thavisin. We met with the President of the company, who spoke in detail about the company’s expansion and how it weathered the real estate crisis in 2007. The company has expanded beyond property development, and now even owns large stakes in big development projects like The Standard Hotel (we were intrigued to hear this since many of us have been to the Beer Garden there for a CBS happy hour). I thought that the President’s explanation of the real estate crisis was very insightful.
8. Bumrungrad International Hospital
As a healthcare junkie, I was highly anticipating this final company visit. The hospital is Joint Commission International accredited and multi-specialty. Founded in 1980, it is one of the largest private hospitals in Southeast Asia. When we walked into the hospital it felt more like a hotel than a medical center – the lounges and lobby areas are lush, and the staff are extremely friendly and warm. Our group was especially impressed with the operations of the hospital – everything from checking in, gathering vitals, seeing a doctor, checking out, and paying the bill appeared streamlined and efficient.
I thought I’d end the Thailand blog posts by featuring some trip highlights – scroll down for some fun photos!