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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Pattaya Mail celebrates 6th year in print
Important Buddhist Holy Days Approaching
Celebrate the Amazing River of King - Part 1
Amazing Enbironmental Rally
What is Skål?

ISR Summer Spectacular

Jeremy Eckford: Always Missed
Negotiation tips - the short course (1 of 2)
Sexier bedrooms and the obnoxious nouveau-riche

Important Buddhist Holy Days Approaching

by Kittisak Khamthong

The Buddhist Holy Day of Asalahabucha falls on the 15th night (15 kham) of the full moon during the eighth month of the Buddhist calendar and is one of the days the sun completes a full revolution. The meaning of the word "Asalahabucha" is to pay homage or worship on the day of 15 kham during the eighth month. But according to the Buddhist calendar, during leap years the eighth month comes twice. This is one of those years with the eighth month coming twice, back to back. Therefore, this year the Asalahabucha Day is moved to the second eighth month on the full moon (15 kham), which falls on July 27th, 1999.

Asalahabucha Day is worshipped because three important events occurred on the day. The first sermon concerning the "Four Noble Truths" was given on this day, which points out that: 1. All things are a source of suffering; 2. Desire of these things is the cause of suffering; 3. Freedom from suffering can be obtained after the complete elimination of desire; 4. The last of the Four Noble Truths is the way, or the path to eliminating desire.

f1.jpg (23388 bytes)TheBuddhist Lent period comes during the rainy season. Many parents conduct a ceremony for their children to enter the Buddhist priesthood, where they will receive training in the Buddhist scriptures and disciplines. The act is a very proud moment for parents. It upholds the basic roots of Buddhism and brings merit to each and every one all over the world.

Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of Buddhism as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his enlightenment two months earlier and then came to a forest area in the city of Pharansi where he showed favor to five ascetics who became his followers. It is also the day when the first person listening to the Buddha’s sermon realized the truths contained therein and became the first Buddhist monk, named Anyakontanya.

The Thai government established the observance of Asalahabucha Day in 1958, with Buddhist temples throughout the Kingdom arranging ceremonies venerating the important historic events of the past. Devout Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by presenting offerings to the monks as they walk through the streets in the early morning, or they may bring offerings to the temples prior to the monk’s morning meal and listen to sermons and perform ritual prayers. The entire day is revered. The more devout Buddhists, and those who have the inclination and opportunity to do so, adhere to certain precepts. Many followers also perform the Wientian ritual, completing three trips walking around the temple area.

The other important holy day is when Buddhist Lent begins (Khao Phansaa). This day falls on the first full moon (1 kham) of the Buddhist calendar during the eighth month of every year, which equates to sometime in July. Again, during the leap year it is identified during the second eighth month. The term "Phansaa" can also translate to the rainy season, which in Pali is "Vasana". This year the day falls on July 28th, the day following Asalahabucha Day, and lasts until the 15th night of the full moon (15 kham) of the 11th month according to the Buddhist calendar year, in October.

The meaning of the Buddhist Lent or Khao Phansaa has to do with the rainy season. Monks return to their temples, usually to the temple where they were ordained, and stay during the rains, approximately three months. The monks are not to stay overnight at any other location during Buddhist Lent. The rainy season actually consists of four months, but the monks are only required to remain at the temples for three of the four months and they can then go elsewhere in the fourth month when the "Katin" ceremony is performed (when people present offerings consisting of the monks’ outer robes).

In former times, monks going into the temples during the rainy season was not a custom. Monks continually went about giving sermons and instructing people in the ways of eliminating suffering and disseminating Buddhist beliefs during the entire year. This was unlike other religions of the time. The concern initially involved the idea that it was inappropriate for monks to walk around during the rainy season while many insects were about and the rice crops were in the ground. Therefore, the monks were to remain in the temples in order to avoid unintentionally killing the insects or destroying the rice crops as they walked from place to place.

During the Buddhist Lent period the monks continue their learning by studying Buddhist disciplines. The period is also when young men who reach 20 years of age enter the Buddhist priesthood and receive training on Buddhist disciplines. During this time they refrain from any worldly desires for the three months of the rainy season. Some monks remain in the temple for even longer periods of time. The act of becoming a monk during this period brings a great deal of merit to the parents.

The author of this article invites all Buddhists to join together in your own true beliefs by refraining from any immoral behavior or wrong doing, and adhere to the Buddhist commandants by following the true way and rightful path during the Buddhist Lent and thereafter. The resulting reward will be your future happiness.

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Celebrate the Amazing River of Kings - Part 1

The Royal Barge Procession, the most auspicious and most spectacular of all events in Thailand, takes place on November 4 this year. The majestic procession marks a religious ceremony and sacred rituals performed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and members of the Royal Family.

f21.jpg (23468 bytes)Rehearsals by the Royal Thai Navy will be held on several occasions in September and October this year. To offer spectators a unique opportunity to witness the splendor of the Royal Barges featured in the procession, tourists, travel agents, tour operators, and the general public will be able to purchase tickets to all rehearsals, which commenced in late June 1999. It is currently estimated that approximately 8,000 tickets will be made available. The designated vantage points along the Chao Phraya River are:

1. The river bank along Bangkok Noi Railway Station

2. Around the Royal Thai Navy Base against the backdrop of Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

The Royal Thai Navy has scheduled regular rehearsals once a week, every Thursday through to September and 2 Dress Rehearsals in October - on October 7 and 21.

The Royal State Barges & The Royal "Kathin" Ceremony

Certain temples or monasteries are designated "Royal Wat", i.e. Royal temples that are visited by H.M. The King personally, and/or other members of the Royal Family. The Royal Barge Procession marks the annual visit of H.M. The King and Members of the Royal Family to a "Royal Wat" to make offerings of yellow ‘kathin’ robes, food and other necessities, to the monks.

This annual pilgrimage, which usually takes place during the season of the full moon in October and November, is known as "Tawt kat’in", or the Royal Kathin, a religious ceremony with sacred rituals performed in accordance with ancient customs. Descriptions of Royal Kathins by both land and water have been described as far back as the Ayutthaya period.

Excerpts from "Royal Barges"

Courtesy of the Public Relations Department of The Royal Government Of Thailand.

The book "Royal Barges" was published by the Government Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister to mark the 50th Anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne.

In the Bangkok Calendar of 1863 (during the 4th reign), Dr. Dan Bradley presents the following account of "The Annual Visitation of the King to the Temples":

"All the temples in Bangkok and its suburbs, which have been made by, or dedicated to the King, expect a splendid visit from His Majesty sometime between the middle of the 11th and 12th moons. This is the season appointed by the most ancient and sacred customs, for the Priests to seek their apparel for the year coming.

"In conformity with this custom, the King taking a princely offering of Priest’s apparel with him, visits the temples. The ceremony is called "Tawt kat’in" (sic), which means to lay down in a pattern in order to cut patch-work by it. The pattern is ket’in, which in ancient times the Priests of Buddha used in cutting their cloth in patches to be sewed together to make their outer and inner robes. ... The cloth was cut with a knife. ... Although they do not now use the kat’in to cut the patches by, but do it by the eye only, this work is still called by that name; and that circumstance alone gives the name to the great ceremony of carrying these ready-made patched robes to the Temples.

"In olden times, in Buddha’s day, the custom was for the priests to go out at this season of the year to seek old cast of clothing for the purpose of getting patches to make their robes, and these they would sew together into such forms as the seven kinds of priestly garments required...

f22.jpg (13818 bytes)The Narayana Thong Suban, Rama IX, with Garuda figurehead, the first Royal Barge to be built during the present reign of the Chakri Dynasty, but the second Royal Barge to carry this name. Completed in 1996, in time to join the celebration to mark the 50th Anniversary of H.M. the King’s Accession to the Throne.

"But that custom has gradually given place to the splendid and august one of making their patched garments from new cloth, dyed yellow; and made ready for the princely donations of thousands of the affluent and the more humble contributions of the poor... The cloth is dyed yellow for the purpose, as tradition says, of imitating somewhat the original custom of Buddha and his followers who preferred a dingy yellow color for their patched robes..."

Dr. Bradley described four kind as classes of kat’in:

Kat’in Looang - the King’s Kat’in; Kat’in Chow - the Prince’s Kat’in; Kat’in Koonang - the Nobleman’s Kat’in; and Kat’in Prei - the people’s Kat’in. In addition to the robes, other necessities were given to the monks.

"Origin of The Wat Visitation"

An older account of these temple visits is found in the 1869 issue of the Siam Repositories. The following, a translation of the original text, describes the practice as it existed over 700 years ago:

"The King was the Sovereign of Northern Siam and reigned in Swargaloke (sic) and Sukhoday, more than 700 years ago. In the history of the North during that reign, the story is —

‘That at the season of the full moons of October and November, in the Royal Wats - Wats which received Royal Patronage - each furnished fireworks which the proper officers in attendance were waiting to set off. At the place in front of the palace, called the Royal Seat of Jolbimanjay, were arranged and placed in readiness, boats, containing baskets full of food with branches placed in the center of them, suspended lanterns from which hung yellow cloths, such as are called "papa", presents from the King..."

"...and partly from the officials from the front, and from within, and partly from the people in the proportion to the extent of their means... These were arranged and deposited for presentation before the Royal Seat Jolbimanjay.

"At night when His Majesty came down to observe, and descended into his boat, in company with the distinguished women of the palace, who descended into their boats and formed part of the retinue, as the King’s boat started the government officers and the people who came to be spectators and to participate ... drew along with their boats ... containing baskets of cloths. ... Wherever the procession of boats was to stop, and on the King’s arrival in front of that wat, the officials set off the fireworks and honoured him..."

The Royal Barges in the Rattanakosin Period: A Precious Heritage

Throughout his long reign, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has devoted special attention to the preservation of the arts and culture of Thailand. On viewing the ruins of Ayutthaya, His Majesty once said: "Ancient ruins always do honour to a nation. Even an old brick from an ancient ruin is worthy of our preservation, for if we do not have Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Bangkok, then Thailand itself does not mean anything."

Restoration of the magnificent Royal Barges of Thailand is an example of His Majesty’s respect and caring for the Thai cultural heritage. The Royal Barges are the last of their kind in the world. The images of the majestic "Sri Suphannahongse" in a Royal Barge Procession is symbolic of Thailand.

The barges were badly damaged by bombing during World War II. Upon His Majesty’s return to Thailand in December, 1951 H.M. the King went to inspect the damage and condition of the barges in their drydock on the Bangkok Noi Canal on the west side of the river. His Majesty was gravely concerned about the extensive deterioration of these historic relics and commissioned their renovation. He also revived the ancient tradition of the Royal Barge Procession for nationally auspicious occasions.

The waterways of Siam have served as highways for Thai people for centuries and Thai life was dependent on waterborne transportation.

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Amazing Environmental Rally

To raise the level of environmental consciousness within the community and cultivate greater sensitivity towards the environment, the Environment For Better Life Foundation, a charitable organization of the TPI group of companies in conjunction with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the TAT Northeastern Office - Region 1, Grand Prix International, Bangkok Airways and TPI Oil, are organizing a charity rally called the "Amazing Environmental Rally" from Bangkok to Khao Yai on August 7 -8, 1999. Proceeds from the rally will be donated to charitable organizations or used to support other community causes and activities.

In the wake of the rapid industrialization and modernization, environmental issues and concerns become an inevitable part of life. Hence the organizers hope that participation in the Amazing Environmental Rally will help to promote a better understanding of environmentally related issues and encourage individuals to take a more active interest in environmental concerns and protection. Furthermore the Amazing Environmental Rally offers new ecotourism holiday options targeting families and the younger generation of Thais and those with a special interest.

Trip activities include tree planting, the release of new stocks of fish into the Pa Sak Dam, a quiz on environmental issues, bird watching at the ‘Bonanza’ Resort, and wildlife observation.

Key highlights of the rally will be Wang Muang District, Muak Lek, Khao Yai National Park, Haew Suwat Waterfall, and a visit to the TPI Polene factory, winner of an energy conservation award in 1998.

Application fee is Baht 2,700 per team (i.e., 2 persons - Note: 70 teams only). Application fee includes accommodation at the Juldis Khao Yai Resort and 2 meals.

Contact information: The Environment For Better Life Foundation, Phone: 213-1011, 285-5090, 213-1039 Ext. 12386 - 87, Fax: 213-1012.

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What is Skål?

Skål is the only international organization which brings together all branches of the travel and tourism industry. Representing the industry’s managers and executives, Skålleagues meet at local, national and international levels in an environment of friendship to discuss subjects of common interest.

The first club was founded in Paris in 1932 by travel managers who had been on an educational tour of Scandinavia. The idea of international friendship gained such popularity that in 1934, Skål achieved international status with the formation of the Association Internationale des Skål Clubs (A.I.S.C.), on the initiative of the first President of the Paris Skål Club and the man considered the "Father of Skål", Florimond Volckaert.

From that modest beginning, Skål now has more than 25,000 members in over 500 clubs, spread throughout 80 countries. As in other associations of professionals (such as Rotary, Oddfellows and Lions), most Skål activities take place within the clubs, but the movement also features national and area committees coming under the umbrella of the A.I.S.C. (International), which has its own secretariat in Torremolinos, Spain.

Skål is managed by an Executive Committee of nine members, elected by club delegates to the General Assembly, which is held in conjunction with the World Congress. This five-day Congress is hosted by a different country each year, thus offering members and their companions the opportunity of observing, first hand, the travel and tourism industry potential of other countries.

Tourism professionals interested in the re-launch of the Skål Club of Pattaya, please contact Jean F. Wasser at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, tel/fax 250145.

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ISR Summer Spectacular

The International School of the Regents (ISR) held its summer concert at the Mercure Hotel on Thursday 1st July. ISR students served up a potpourri of music and song that was quite simply stunning, leaving the 400 strong audience in no doubt about the standard of musicianship at the school.

Proceedings began with the 42-member orchestra playing ‘Fanfare’ a number penned by Director of Music, Mr Gary Sanderson. The first of many stage changes followed as the chamber orchestra convened for ‘Elegy for Flute’.

The Primary Choir of 70 hearty voices then delivered its repertoire sometimes accompanied by the recorder and flute group; the highlight being a medley of well known songs delightfully combining vocal harmonies and recorder. Interspersed were standards such as ‘The Entertainer’ and ‘Memory’ from the Concert Band as well as a stirring ‘Air on a G String’ with the strings, clarinet and upright bass being particularly effective.

The first half of the show closed with the Aussies in the audience reaching for the tissues after a jazzy but moving arrangement of ‘Australia Home’. Soloists almost stole the show with piano solos from players as young as Year 3 as well as individual contributions from violin, flute and saxophone.

The second half began with the orchestra playing ‘Concert Overture’, the tempo and full sound whetting the audience’s appetite. And they were not disappointed - in true concert fashion the show got better and better, culminating in a polished version of Handel’s ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ from the string ensemble followed by a 10 piece sax and trumpet jazz-funk number which had the audience tapping their feet to the beat.

This number also showcased the Assistant Director of Music, Miss Elizabeth Breakwell’s fine jazz-sax skills. Finally, a medley of well known film themes, another Sanderson arrangement, which cleverly segued some 15 famous tunes, had the audience playing ‘I’ll name that tune in one...’

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the entire performance was the fact that the players were so young - no fewer than 17 members of the orchestra were of Junior School age, many having only taken up an instrument last September - a marvellous achievement. All of which augurs well for the future.

At the final curtain, plaudits rang out and rightly so for Mr. Sanderson and Miss Breakwell for giving everyone such a memorable evening.

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Jeremy Eckford: Always Missed

by Peter Cummins

The recent demise of Dolf Riks, one of Pattaya’s best-known and most colourful characters, reminded me somewhat of the many expats who have come to Pattaya, set up residence and stayed here. Some eventually move on but others, like Dolf, end their days here.

On reflecting further, I found that it is six years to the very day, that another colourful character, Jeremy Eckford met an untimely death in an accident, at only 47 years of age.

Yet, I feel that Jeremy is still among us. A walk along Beach Road and up and down Soi Yamato and Soi Post Office, right down to the end of the Strip, the myriad places he frequented are just that little bit empty without him - even six years down the line.

His sense of humour was unfailing. On one particular occasion, I had the rare good sense to go to bed early. I met Jeremy early the next morning and it was obvious he had not gone to bed early, as he was downing a breakfast Bloody Mary. After two more he said, "you know, Peter, you are feeling the best you will feel all day, right now. Your well-being will not improve as the day wears on." As for me, he continued, "I woke up feeling dreadful after last night’s binge but, already, I am starting to feel better; it will be a steady progression until this evening," he grinned.

As I moved on to mull over this philosophy, he dropped another of his famous one-liners: "Actually, I am sick and tired of waking up sick and tired!"

Jeremy had certainly had a night on the town, along Pattaya’s Strip where he was, undoubtedly, its most famous denizen. He was all things to all people: the beloved clown, the confidante of the lovelorn, the friend of the legion of expats and yachties who hang out in Pattaya, a comforter of many a forlorn or lonely maiden but, possibly best of all, he was the person one always looked forward to seeing on a night out.

He would sidle up to you at the bar - usually the Marine Bar - on his mountain bike, usually drink one of your beers before he inevitably bought the next two - or three, or four. Or, he would drive along in the jeep which he shared with two other partners and which spent more time at the police station for some breach or other than actually being driven. Of course, all three partners denied any knowledge of an infringement (who, me? they would all chorus). Or, he would trundle along astride his three-wheeler, a motorcycle, side-car combination, the genre of which was last seen on the Eastern Front during World War II.

He had a brush with death even before he met his tragic end. Sailing single-handedly along the west side of Koh Larn, Jeremy slipped overboard and the catamaran kept sailing, leaving him struggling to stay afloat, some three km. off shore. Fortunately, a passing fishing boat saw the boat, by then capsized, and, about an hour later found Jeremy, close to drowning.

Even such a ghastly experience could not ‘dampen’ (if one could be pardoned allusion) his humour. Some time later, I observed that sea-lore has it that a drowning person sees life flash past and recollections compressed in those last desperate minutes before going down for the third time. "Is that true, Jeremy, did you have recollections before that fishing boat hauled you out?" I asked him. "Yes," he replied with his characteristic half-smile, "I remembered everything EXCEPT my swimming lessons!"

He was a man of many parts was Jeremy. Well read, he was a great raconteur and a good conversationalist. He was a first-class sailor who won many events in multi-hull racing at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club at South Pattaya; a Cowes-week, Fastnet sailor who excelled; he sailed the South China Sea Series, winning the CHS handicap division aboard Bill Gasson’s "Buzzard" and again shared the glory, aboard "Buzzard", crewing in successive Phuket King’s Cup Regattas.

Over the past few years, he had ferried "Buzzard" and "Foreign X-Change II" to and from Phuket, Manila and Hong Kong, for their respective owners, Bill Gasson and David Pollard. He ran a tight ship. No alcohol on these delivery runs; make up for it afterwards - which he did with tremendous gusto.

Jeremy knew when to keep the pressure on - and when to let go. He never, under any circumstances, compromised anyone; life, whether his own or that of anyone around him, was too precious to jeopardize.

His standards were quite clearly exemplified when he walked away from a very high-paying career as a helicopter pilot in Indonesia, some eight years before his death. The maintenance crews, he ascertained, were not of sufficient ability and lacked the training to keep the choppers in satisfactory condition. He never went back.

A very private man, he never imposed his considerable knowledge and life experience on any other person. His respect, consequently, for all he met, was boundless; there was no time for pettiness in his make-up - just his perpetual half-smile which was neither mocking nor superficial. It was Jeremy.

Perhaps his life could be summed up by the huge crowd which gathered at the Wat in South Pattaya for his funeral - a marvellous group of individuals, a cross-section of Jeremy’s world. It ranged from Runyanesque characters who could have just walked out of a l930s Chicago Speakeasy of the Prohibition Era, to shirtless expats totally covered in tattoos; from elegantly-dressed business tycoons to svelte Thai ladies, alluring even in their respectful black outfits; from urchins, the hardy survivors of Pattaya’s streets, to sailors, still wearing life-jackets.

The final nautical tribute to our departed friend was aptly described by David Wales, in his moving piece written at the time, for the Royal Varuna in-house magazine. Said David: "...with Jeremy’s mortal remains, we went to the Ocean Marina, to meet Bill (Gasson) and David (Pollard) who had generously offered to give Jeremy the ‘deep six’ in the Gulf. "Buzzard" and Bill had a very special place in Jeremy’s heart."

A few miles offshore, in a freshening breeze, Jeremy’s remains were scattered on the waters of the Gulf he loved so much. Everybody threw flowers and a few beers to send him off while "Buzzard" and "Foreign X-Change II" circled the area three times.

We shall all miss this smiling man, whether on the land, on the sea, and for those who flew with him - even in the air.

His ashes, like the boats he commanded, were blown by the South-westerly Monsoon but, somehow, as I prowl the night spots, I feel Jeremy is still around.

David’s farewell said it all for all of us who knew him: "Rest in peace, Jeremy, friend to all the world."

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Negotiation tips - the short course (1 of 2)

by Richard Townsend, Corporate Training

Before the negotiation confirm:

Your goal by defining your ideal outcome and just as importantly their "real" goal

The time constraints on both parties and the reasons for the "deadlines"

Both your and their limitations on what can be offered or given away

Define and write down your opening position and gather all you can on theirs

Document your minimum acceptable solution and what you believe theirs to be

Your negative perceptions of the situation and what their negative perceptions may be

Then develop a strategy by:

Identifying objective standards by which rules of engagement can be set i.e. values & ethics, appraisals that may be accepted & by whom, legal practice, etc.

Neutralize negative perceptions or bias that hinder, i.e. this customer is greedy, unionists are troublemakers or management is against the workers

List possible solutions for the other side and their repercussions for both parties

Define possible areas of agreement and the underlying mutual needs

Determine limitations impact, what they may realistically be able to accept, deadlines, the power of the negotiating team to make decisions, political situation

Try to define their perspective on the negotiation, i.e. what is their real problem and how do they view our position and attitude

List alternative actions that may provide some basis for continuation or a partial agreement or an, "if all else fails option", (sometimes referred to as a lifeboat)

Practice by role-playing both sides of the negotiation to find weaknesses

During the Negotiation:

Outline issues objectively & gauge reaction to find areas of agreement or disagreement

Don’t interrupt; listen and look carefully; identify confidence & knowledge levels, fears and motivations

Be now and future focussed (don’t get into the last time we... etc.)

Ask the other party to define their current perspective on the issue

Do not accuse and do not be personal, try to create empathy for your position by explaining your stance with facts rather than giving your perspective on their attitude

Don’t go to your extreme position (if you don’t do this I will or will not do that), emphasize you are looking for a mutual solution

Encourage the parties to define a number of possible solutions emphasizing both party benefits to be gained

If a deadlock occurs focus on ways to keep the process moving, if the process stalls totally, try to resolve some less crucial issues to get the process re-started

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Sexier bedrooms and the obnoxious nouveau-riche

From Imtiaz Muqbil,
Executive Editor Travel Impact Newswire

Every two months, Small Luxury Hotels of the World sends out a questionnaire to 60 General Managers and Directors of Sales and Marketing, all specially selected from among its 246 members world-wide. The questionnaire solicits their views about industry changes and personal experiences impacting on the way they manage and relate to staff and guests. The feedback is collated, summarized and then distributed to selected travel media world-wide.

In the next two issues of Newswire, I am reproducing the last six issues of the Luxury Hotel Monitor. They provide fascinating insights into how hoteliers are being affected by - and reacting to - global changes in guest lifestyles and business patterns. Anyone tracking the shifting sands of the service industry, including national tourism organizations, airlines and tour operators, will find these issues of Newswire collector’s items.

Hoteliers Now ‘Virtual Therapists’ for Attention-Seeking Guests

Campaign mounts to discourage moral pressure of ‘credit card tips’

Hoteliers who deal with the very richest clientele admit that their job increasingly now involves acting as ‘virtual therapists’ for attention-seeking guests.

In their role as 24-hour psychologists, the hoteliers have to be good listeners and advisors whilst customers struggle with their consciences over drinking, diet and smoking, and admit to their social and business anxieties.

Guest moods have to be ‘read’ on arrival, and their frequently-changing expectations and attitudes handled with care until they leave.

Often clients want reassurance over the way they look, what they eat, how many drinks or cigarettes to consume, and their success in business. The younger guests also need support in situations where they may be socially less experienced.

Hoteliers have to be particularly discreet when they think couples are having an affair, usually recognized when people keep looking around, or when they spend more time admiring each other than what is on the plate.

Other tell-tale signs are the man’s air of anticipation and the woman’s contact stroking of her hair, the fact that they talk far more than other guests, and on departure when the male opens the car door for his lady-friend and also leaves a higher than average ‘guilty conscience’ tip.

On the issue of customer psychology, more and more hoteliers say they discourage the practice of applying moral pressure to guests by expecting them to complete the ‘gratuity’ space on credit card slips. The consensus is that Small Luxury Hoteliers would prefer to see an industry-wide ban on this behavior.

Asked whether they prefer having business or leisure guests in their properties, the typical diplomatic answer is that leisure guests are more fun, but business people are easier to please.

More Complaints Please - Say Luxury Hotels

Greedy businessmen and questionable ‘Fam Trips’ are ethical issues

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of top of the market hotels think it would be of benefit to them to receive more complaints. Hoteliers say they want a relationship where guests make a point of suggesting improvements.

However, many criticisms can still be unconstructive, for example, the wrong kind of sand at a beach resort, the sun proving too hot, or twittering birds waking guests earlier than their alarm call.

The Small Luxury Hotels’ consortium members also report that they are more aware of an ethical decline in the industry. They estimate that at least a third, and as many as half of familiarization visits have doubtful business purposes - a figure which has rapidly grown. Some even try to have free holidays with their partners and children, and in some cases even with their in-laws, relatives and friends.

A majority (53%) of SLH hoteliers also believe that more and more executives and delegates take advantage of hospitality when other people are paying, typically by eating and drinking more than usual, half-emptying the mini-bar to take home, and up-grading their choice of wines.

Looking ahead, the proportion of hoteliers remaining optimistic about business prospects has fallen from 63% six months ago to 48%, and 74% do NOT expect celebrations associated with the Millennium to add much extra profit in 1999.

International Hoteliers Divided over Threat of Recession

More worried about hygiene issues, keeping chefs and thinner guests

Small Luxury Hoteliers are not yet convinced that a world-wide recession will affect their business, but they are concerned about stricter hygiene laws, keeping their chefs, and thin guests who don’t eat much.

Hoteliers concerned about the economic outlook include those in America, Asia, Australia, Britain and Italy, but those remaining totally confident include France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.

To counter fears of downturn, hoteliers refer to their resilient niche markets including senior business executives, golfers, rich spa devotees, top government officials, and aging clientele spending ‘old money’.

But over two thirds (69%) of hoteliers are concerned that hygiene and health issues are becoming more serious considerations, due to both government pressures and the expectations of their customers. Particular fears center on the question of liability in the event of guest illnesses, food suppliers, and the future threat posed by resistant strains of bacteria.

Guests in luxury hotels are tending to become thinner, and more ‘faddy’ about food, which is another worry, because they eat and therefore spend less, but also want more unusual dishes and at less traditional times.

Most depressing of all their problems, say a majority (62%) of hoteliers, is to keep their chefs from being ‘poached’ by other hotels. Solutions include providing an excellent working environment, the opportunity to develop more interesting and creative menus, giving more responsibility to young chefs, paying them fairly, and involving them in all food and beverage decisions.

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Copyright 1998 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand 
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]
Updated by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek.