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Monday,  July 22, 2024   4:09 PM
Centara aims to boost product awareness in Canada

“If you can experience it, you can sell it.”

These are the words of Chris Bailey, senior vice-president, sales and marketing for Centara Hotel & Resorts, who stopped by the PAX office to discuss the company’s plans for expansion and the role which Canada’s travel agents will have to play in its future.

Founded in 1980 by Thailand’s largest retail conglomerate the Central Group, Centara Hotel & Resorts began as a single property in the north of Bangkok. Thirty-five years, a rebranding (it was originally named Central Hotels & Resorts) and 74 properties later, it is now Thailand’s leading hotel company, with 48 resorts and hotels across the kingdom, and a further 26 in Maldives, Vietnam, Bali, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Qatar, Laos and Oman. These numbers are expected to increase, with plans to open two properties in the Middle East, in anticipation for the 2022 World Cup.

Centara operates six hotel brands aiming to appeal to various budgets or travel requirements. According to Bailey, the company’s vast portfolio means that each property provides different experiences depending on location.

It's a message that is key to the group's long-term strategy to be recognized as a top choice for travellers, Canadians included. Bailey said that with growing international connections from gateways across the country, vacation options for Canadians are expanding, which is business Centara wants to tap into.

To do so, the company is working to increase their profile among the travel trade and to provide them with reasons to recommend Centara Hotel & Resorts as the best option for travellers jet setting overseas. “It’s all about what we can do to increase general market awareness for the brand,” Bailey said.

Centara has been focusing on making it easy to book their product, whether online or through select tour operators. When it comes to reaching travel agents individually, webinars and training programs are available for agents on the Centara online learning portal, which teaches them how to book and where they can find certain products. They also offer incentives for agents who complete the modules on the Centara Ambassador e-learning program, such as inclusive vacations to their properties in Thailand.

“The goal is providing agents with tools so they can advise clients on why they should choose Centara,” Bailey said. “Ultimately, we’d like to become a sort of one-stop shop for agents, and we’ll achieve that by building a base, step by step.”

The way Bailey sees it, if they can get Canadians to the front gates of their properties, Centara's reputation for quality will speak for itself. “Thailand is globally recognized as the biggest hospitality provider in the world,” he said. “Hospitality is in our DNA.”

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