With the strength of the baht so high at the moment and the Western tourist and expat market in decline, it would appear everything is doom and gloom but that is not altogether true.
Much has been written about the growth in Indian tourists arriving in destinations like Pattaya, but many have written them off as ‘cheap charlies’ and so of little importance commercially. That could not be further from the truth.
Sometime ago now I was with a bungee jump operator in Pattaya and he said the Indians were not only his best customers but also the best payers. Since then increasingly I am hearing the same stories from different business operators.
Recently I spoke with Mike Weller, an entrepreneur in Pattaya who has been working with Indians within the entertainment industry and not only bucking the trend of doom and gloom but smashing it.
His company Buvado put together VIP Batchelor packages in Pattaya and Bangkok and there has been no shortage of affluent Indians booking up with him.
I put some questions to Mike about the current nightlife scene in Pattaya and also the increasing importance of the Indian consumer.
What’s happening in the Pattaya nightlife scene?
“For the Indian market it is booming. The average Indian is out in full force and Walking Street has its 4th Indian club on the way complete with 6,000 bottle bar and swimming pool. The Indians are tarnished with the Cheap Charlie brush but that is clearly not the case.
As for the Western market, it is tough for many reasons. The strong baht, the internet and greed. Many landlords have had rents increased at a time when many landlords are struggling with revenue, that puts the squeeze on even more. The internet through Facebook, Tinder and Thai Friendly means it’s easier for girls to meet men without even leaving their rooms!”
Do Indians have any issues in Pattaya because of their stereotypes?
“For sure, the stigma and stereotypes that others have with Indians mean it it is difficult for them to go to a regular go-go bar and nightclub and enjoy themselves, hence why they have their own clubs in which the girls there are predominantly Uzbekistan.”
How does your company overcome these issues?
“My company creates an environment where my customers can enjoy a luxury party that includes being hosted at private villas or on luxury Yachts, we offer Indian DJ’s and Food along with many other things from VIP transport to waitresses and even butlers.
It means my Indian customers do not have to have the enjoyment stifled by the stereotypes and stigmas against them. We effectively bring the bar to the villa!”
Are some Indians ‘Cheap Charlies’?
“Yes, just like some Westerners are too. You do get many Indians that walk up and down beach road not looking to spend money. But even these groups we can accommodate as a group booking!
My customers mainly come from India, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia and a few from Europe.”
So, what can bar owners learn from you?
“Bar owners and girls need to learn to accept the Indians and make them feel welcome. They are very hard work to deal with I do a party for 1m THB and they still want it for 950k I do a party for 250k and they want to pay 245k with 5 more free Moet that’s just how they are but if you are kind and friendly to them then they open their wallets.”
Many thanks to Mike Weller from Buvado for offering his insight into the opportunity with the Indian tourist within the nightlife/entertainment industry in Thailand.