Wellness Tourism in Thailand: Literature Review
Strategic marketing is a process through which any individual or organization can plan and achieve their goals. The marketing is the base for satisfying the needs and demands of the consumers through the production, sale and increasing availability of the product. And a strategy is highly recommended to perform some marketing activities by keeping long term goals in one’s mind.
There are several definitions that explain the process of strategic marketing very efficiently, like the first definition was given by General Electric Organization in 1952. According to this definition the marketing is philosophy which aims at fulfilling the needs and wants of the consumers in a defined region along with the pressures and factors present in the society. A latest definition for marketing strategy was given by Pranulis which state, “Marketing strategy is consistently located and coordinated set of marketing actions, aimed at meeting the long term marketing goals” (Iãoraité, 2009).
2. Literature review
2.1 Marketing strategies and tourism
Furrrer (2006) in his study reported that the concept of marketing has evolved over a period of time. Now the study and practicing of marketing strategies are not limited for understanding and resolving the functional management issues, but now a greater emphasis is given over the role of strategic management in the corporate sector. This widened scope of marketing along with the strategic management has resulted in an overlapped concept known as strategic marketing. Various multinational companies majorly focus on developing important dimensions of the market. The various marketing strategies focused by the MNCs for the adoption of efficient marketing plans are product offering, promotional mix, price and channel structure, etc. The secondary focus was made by companies all over the world regarding the marketing strategies are development and implementation of various value chain activities in a coordinative manner. And the last strategy focused by the firms was developing and executing a plan against the competitors in the market. The research also reported different type of strategies that are adopted by the firms all over the world.
Tourism is the process in which the people travel from their place of living or work to some other place to take the benefits of the different things at those places which help them in satisfying their needs that may arise during the travel. European Commission 2002 has given a newer definition of tourism which explained the tourism as the set of activities that are performed by the people who travel or move to other places which are different from their environment but only for a duration of less than one year for different purposes like leisure, fun, business, etc.
Tourism are of different types depending on the duration and nature of trip, distance traveled and the type of destination. It is also differentiated on the basis of the types of activities performed during the travel (Karatzoglou, Spilanis, 2005). Depending on the type of activities the tourism can be classified into various types like relaxing tourism, relaxing and health care tourism, visiting tourism, transit tourism, reduced distance tourism, and professional tourism.
2.2 Wellness tourism in Thailand
Today the scope of relaxing and health care tourism has been increasing as the people want to relax from the routine life and enhance their health. This type of tourism includes following types of activities spas, and stress reducing activities (Tureac and Turtureanu, 2010).
Wellness tourism is the type of tourism in which the people move from their place of residence to some other place with the purpose of maintaining their health or well being. This includes the therapies that are unique, authentic or provide some location based experience to the people involved in it. This definition of wellness tourism was given by the report published by Falck, 2013. With the effect of the flourishing wellness tourism wellness market is also expanding and the factors responsible for the expansion were ageing of people, poor health of the people, inefficient medical system, globalization and connection, etc.
Thailand tourism is flourishing with the special type of tourism that deals with the health and wellness of the people travelling from other destinations. The Thailand is Asia’s one of the most tempting destination for the health tourism. Laing and Weller (2008) in their study reported four different reasons to call Asia a tempting destination for health and wellness. The four reasons were people interest towards the nature and authentic experiences, demand of natural treatment, benefits of natural beauty, and low cost destination.
With the acknowledgement of the trends and specialties Thailand has become the core destination for the health and wellness tourism. The main aspect behind this was the traditional healing techniques and traditions. The destination is alluring to the tourist as there are beautiful natural and friendly locals which are considered as the strengths of the countries potential. The wellness tourism in Thailand is most preferred by the relaxation and pampering. In recent years a huge number of spas and hotels have been established by the government. The tourism also involved the yoga centers and meditation retreats.
According to the Health & Wellness Market Reports, Bangkok (2016), the tourism in Bangkok has expanded between the year 2015 and 2016 by 10.9%. Ministry of tourism mentioned that till 2015, approximately 20.87 percent has visited Bangkok while their spending grew by 35.4 percent. This influx of the visitors had allowed the profits to the hotels in Bangkok. With the rapid incoming of the tourist in the hotels it was assumed that the spa market was also flourishing. The report concluded that the gap between different types of spas in the region.
Costa, Quintela and Mendes (2015) in their study explored the changes encountered by the tourism sector. It mentioned that the health and wellness is now the most demanding type of tourism. Spa is a type of recreational activity included in the health and wellness tourism and it is reaching the heights of the tourism market. This type of tourism is creating development options for all the types of regional activities.
A report was presented by Pingeyinga (2007) which focused on spa industry in the Northeast Iceland. The study revealed that there was requirement of strategies for the development of the spa industry in the region. The study suggested some strategic recommendations that would help in the development of several segments of the industry. The strategic recommendations that are to be incorporated include sustainable development, marketing of the products, product development, capacity building, etc. The research also concluded that the market opportunities are not limited to the local products availability but it is also affected by the choice of the consumers or visitors visiting the place. Strategic marketing planning must include following strategies like long term planning, including value added services, and appointing trained staff, upgrading the quality and capacity of the products, and evolving and growing capacity of the business.
Costa, Quintela and Mendes (2015) in their study explored the importance of the marketing strategies in the health and wellness tourism. The study was conducted to see the impact of thermalism, a kind of relaxation therapy by using several natural resources. The hot springs and their thermal spas are very demanding type of spas worldwide. They had their importance since the ancient times and are efficiently important in the health and well-being of the living beings. The researchers reported that health and wellness tourism is growing at a rapid rate and and flourishing the tourism all over the world. A case study was performed by the researchers and reported a great growth was observed between the duration of 2005-2012, and elevates the level of income of classical tourism. The project focused on the major aspects those were products, space promotion and governance. The study also conducted a SWOT analysis for developing a strategy. The major objectives of the development strategy were strategic resources, defining the contents of the objectives, creative and inventive activities to achieve a place in the market. For market development health sector and tourism sector work in coordination and they had their major focus on products, promotion, and governance.
Flack (2013) conducted a case study for developing marketing strategies for wellness Tourism Company based in Thailand. The study tries to develop an approach with the base of service marketing and develop the marketing strategies for the company dealing in wellness tourism. The company considered in the study majorly provides yoga retreats. Concerning the research it was concluded that the developing a customer oriented marketing strategies would be more suitable for the wellness tourism company. It was mentioned in the research that the Thailand and tourism market have a great connection. Various other reasons were also mentioned in the study that showed the connection between Thailand and tourism market. Different marketing strategies were developed after the study which was based on customer, needs and demands in the market etc. In this research marketing mix was considered which focus 4Ps of marketing mix, viz. product, price, place and promotion. The study concluded that for the better marketing benefits the people holding the tourism must have focus on the customer satisfaction.
The study performed by Hashemi et al (2015) which mentioned that now the wellness and tourism were taken as marketing strategy for attracting the customers. The main purpose of the research was to establish the relationship between the hotel industry and wellness and spa services. The interrelationship of the factors like motivations, satisfaction and revisit intents are needed to be achieved. Since very few studies were conducted in context with spa and wellness tourism in Malaysia. Thus, current study aimed at development of health tourism because of the indulged traditional therapies that are oldest of all the time. Other than Thailand, Malaysia has now become a great competitor oh wellness and spa tourism. Tourists are the major focus for the development on any kind of tourism in the region. The factors that promote the interest of the customers or visitors in the wellness and spa facilities were social or psychological need, personal interest, goals or objectives of the organization, attitude and perceptions of the individuals. The study concluded that there is higher competition among the hotels for spa is very high. In the state the health and spa tourism are considered as very important aspect. The quality of spa was the major factor that might affect the tourism in the regions, thus it must be maintained at any cost.
2.3 Marketing Mix (7Ps)
A Thailand based study was conducted by Phongvivat and Panadis (2011) which evaluated the relationship between the consumer attitude and spa in Thailand. Since the people in these countries were highly stressed and also have special concern for curing such health issues like skin care and stress reduction. According to the data the spa facility is only available in the luxurious hotels. But with the passage with time the spas spread all over the country like mushroom. For consumer behavior certain factors were considered like their attitude, perceptions, and motivation. The 4 Ps of marketing mix was used for developing some strategies. The study gave some conclusion like the attitude; perception and attitude of the visitors have a direct link between the developing spa business and the consumers’ attitude. The marketing mix used for the study was also found to have some association with the consumers’ perceptions.
When an institution wants to generate some effective response from the target market then some marketing tools which collectively has known as marketing mix. This can be use to influence the demand of the product in the target market. The traditional marketing mix strategies include 4Ps of the marketing mix. The 4Ps of the marketing mix were product, price, place and promotion. Now a new set of marketing tools have been used for the better effective response. This is 7Ps of the marketing mix. The 7Ps of the marketing mix include product, price, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence (Ivy, 2008).
A research was performed by Ivy (2008) with a purpose according to which the effectiveness of the traditional services marketing mix is used by the students. The study adopted questionnaire method for collecting the data for analyzing the correlation between the interrelated variables. This study reported that the use of the 4, 5 and 7P marketing services marketing mix are the best approach for the marketing in the case of MBA student. The 7P plan has 60 percent variance by using split half approaches.
The use of 7Ps was reported by Yasanallah and Vahid (2012) through their research in which they analyzed the status of the marketing mix in cooperatives and how these can be used for the development of the plan for their development.
Product is one of the major components of the marketing mix. It is the commodity that is to be sold and it is designed in a way so that it can satisfy the customer’s need. The focus was given on the quality, as the customer satisfaction is dependent on the type and quality of the product. It is believed that the aim of the product in the marketing process is just to satisfy the needs of the customers, must be tangible, etc. The products in the spa and wellness tourism include spas, therapies, massages, etc. The quality of these products depends on the trained professionals.
Price of a product is decided mainly by the customer segment. It is believed that the price of the product is determined as the worth of the product that the consumer is acceptable to pay. It is recommended that the cost of the product must not be too high or too low, it must have a moderate that can easily be paid up by the consumers. The cost of the product in some cases is responsible for determining the value of the product in the view of consumers. For elevating the prices of the exiting services or product the producer is suggested to some value added features to enhance its basic properties. Cost for the spas and therapies are decided on the basis of the location where they were given and also on te type of the therapy and the ingredients required in the process.
Place in marketing strategy is the location where the consumer is living or he might be going to purchase the product. It is important the product must be available in the right amount in the right place in the right quantity. The place where the product is launched is very important as the target population will affect the proper marketing statistics. The destination for the wellness and spa are the major influential factor, most of the people come to Thailand just to get the effective treatments in the natural and beautiful locations.
Promotion is the step that is taken by all the companies to enhance the popularity of their product as well as in order to make target population aware about the product. The promotion can be at a wider pace in the company when they want to communicate with the consumer and letting them know about the offerings of the company. This step or marketing mix is responsible in developing a direct communication link with customer. The promotional activity or the display unit must be very attractive that will allure the customer and bring higher revenue. Promotion of the spas and different therapies are made by the local tourism as well as the national tourism departments. These departments ensure the maximum influx of the tourists.
People involved in the business are the next essential marketing property of the consumers. The person who made direct contact with the customers must have potential to convince the customer. These people involved in eth product specification and selling must be trained properly. The people can also support the people after the sale of the product and determine the full achievement of the marketing opportunities. The skilled professionals are highly recommended for the spa and therapies and they will ensure the consumer satisfaction.
Process is a complex strategy which involves the step in which the product is delivered to the consumer, how was the behavior of the consumer. The interest of the customers is in investigating the system efficiency in terms of product or service delivery. It is a two way path in which one moves from the business to the consumer while in other the consumer is reaching the market for investigating the market standards. The process is successful when the consumer is able to satisfy himself with all the queries. The strategies must be developed thus on the concerned reason. Process for the spa and other treatments start from the selection of the process till the satisfactory response of the consumer.
Physical evidence of the product or service is essential for exploring the product or service for future use. Till the time the customer does not experience the product directly he has various assumptions regarding that but these assumptions degrade out when the product is available for the physical view and use. The satisfaction for the service or product is only be possible once the commodity is purchased by someone. The physical evidence in the wellness and spa tourism are revisiting tourists and high recommendations to the new consumers from the previous ones.
All the mentioned marketing mix is essential individually to explain the success of the product. All these are linked in some way or another but are very important for the customer satisfaction (CIM, 2009; Ivy, 2008). The tourism involving the spa and wellness also consider the tourism with the health and the final satisfaction is mentioned by the consumer.
The 7Ps of marketing mix are applied in the Thailand based research on the health and beauty. The stdy adopted the marketing mix for their business i.e. too of 7 Ps. The study focused on the product and services delivered to the tourist coming in the region and acquiring the medical treatment. There are innumerable aesthetic surgeries that are offered in the Thailand. The prices of these aesthetic services are regulated and are found to be comparatively low in comparison to the beauty services provided to the companies. The next feature is the place, where all these services are available. The easy accessibility and convenient transportation are two determinants of the feature called place. Variety luxury hospitals and medical centers are established to ease the tourist movement. Promoting the services for the aesthetic treatment is very essential to make the visitors aware about the efficient treatment plans. The promotion is not only limited to the publicity of the company or product but also adoption and purchase of new technologies and their application. The people involved in the treatment include all the medical or health specialists, all the staff in the hospital and management. Thus for better response all these people must have proper coordination with the visitor. The services provided by the Thai hospitals are one stop service where the visitor can gather all the information about the process involved in the treatment. The mouth publicity was observed for the Thai hospital services as the services are experienced by the people. The conclusion was made that with the implementation of the 7Ps marketing mix the hospitals are providing best results (Sinhaneti and Pullawan, 2008).
2.4 SWOT Analysis
The steps to estimate the efficiency of the process or the particular sector existence has a final point i.e. analyzing the strength and weakness of the system. The approach used for analysis of 7P marketing mix with strategic planning is SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is an overall evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, along with the scope of improvement and growth in the presence of the rivals or competitors present in the market. Today SWOT analysis is widely applicable in the healthcare and wellness industries.
Certain steps are to be followed for the accurate evaluation of the data. The initial step is the collection and evaluation of the key data which include the demographic data, community health status, medical status, etc. Then data related to the organization was collected that was bifurcated into four segments viz. strength, weakness, opportunities and threats. After collecting the organizational data the next step is to develop a SWOT matrix for each business alternative under consideration. And finally the SWOT analysis is placed in the decision making process. After the SWOT analysis the best alternative is incorporated into the strategic plan developed in the organization (Gretzky, 2010).
SWOT Analysis for spa tourism in Thailand can be used for evaluating the opportunities and threats to the business in the market. A study was performed by Wong et al (2014) in which the researchers conducted a SWOT analysis on the medical tourism in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and India. The study explored that the global healthcare will escalate by 5.3-10% from 2014-2017. The tourism is started to develop in these countries because of the unavailability of the medical opportunities in other countries. Thus, people are travelling to these places for better medical facilities and health care. Thus there are wider scopes for the development of the medical tourism in these countries. This will help in overall economic development of the country. It was mentioned that the Thailand is the place which provide bets hospitality services in the concerned regions. This is also called the hub for wellness and spa. In terms of medical tourism the SWOT analysis for Thailand is a market leader and therefore it can regain its position in the destination. Thailand is well recognized country for its hospitality services internationally.
The SWOT analysis is needed to understand the status of the spa and wellness tourism in Thailand. The analysis will help in understanding the opportunities and threats to the tourism in the concerned region. The SWOT analysis for a wellness and spa tourism in Thailand can be tabulated as:
Service superior in Spa tourism, health related services
Value added services especially export oriented
No automation capability
Bigger market to GMS to ASEAN to ASEAN+++
High capacity customer entertainment
Kitchen based opportunity to expand worldwide
High production cost, low competition
Inflow of cheaper goods
This SWOT analysis report provided the details about the threats and weakness that might hinder the development of the wellness and spa tourism in Thailand.
In the current study the same approach is adopted for evaluating the marketing strategies that can be developed for the spa and wellness tourism in Thailand. The main focus is on the 7Ps of the marketing strategies that are used in context of tourism like product (spa and wellness therapies), price (rates of processes), place (suitable destinations in Thailand), etc. The 7Ps in the tourism defines the different types of factors that provide the stability to the tourism in the particular regions. The Thailand is the hub for the spa, health and wellness, with a high intelligence of people for therapies and foods. The SWOT analysis report gives a clear picture of the best qualities of the population indulged in the business of spa and wellness tourism. The population in the country has great knowledge about the natural massages and therapies with the help of the natural ingredients and hot water springs. They had intense knowledge about the variety of foods and food supplements. The country has opportunity to expand its tourism of spa and wellness as the people are highly skilled and they need to focus on eliminating and reducing the risks and weak issues in the country.