Daniel Fraser, CEO and co-founder of Smiling Albino, pleads the
case of why overseas guests or B2B partners should look to DMCs for
As a Thailand-based destination management company (DMC), there are
many reasons we want to book hotels on behalf of our overseas guests and
business partners, but the short answer is that it works towards a
stronger and more sustainable travel ecosystem for all of us.
To an overseas guest or B2B partner, I’d ask to please enable us the
opportunity to match or beat the rates and benefits you may already
have. Our intention is that you should not be paying more by booking
through us, a local operator, nor should you lose the credit and
recognition with the hotel for doing so.
When we are able to book hotels locally, it increases our annual
volume with a hotel and thus deepens the relationship we have with such a
property. Ultimately this pays dividends back to the guest in the form
of potential upgrades, special treatment, or being able to resolve an
issue on the backbone of a meaningful local relationship. Ultimately
this is where the actual guest will benefit most.
But far deeper than that, it’s about supporting local supply chains,
or “value chains”, as they should be called. As a local business in
Thailand, we don’t have the kind of government support or industry
subsidies that western Europe and North America have had through the
pandemic. As such, even a small percentage on a hotel booking means a
great deal to us and our staff as we’ve been fighting this pandemic
alone from day one. It empowers us to build our businesses locally, to
spend locally, to support locally.
Promoting sustainability by strengthening local economies and human
resources is often discussed as a desirable goal in tourism conferences
and hospitality media. Delivering on that really means promoting the
economic well-being of local businesses and the communities they operate
in. This has been part of our ethos at Smiling Albino since day one.
There are some hotel conglomerates that might offer better rates or
benefits to overseas partners, likely members of large travel consortia
with aggregate buying power, and I understand the calculus by which that
makes business sense. I’m a capitalist too. For local hotels in our
playground who do offer more attractive rates to overseas businesses, I
appreciate how you got there, but we will likely discourage our guests
and partners from using your property in the future. It is more
important for me to build a sustainable business, empower local staff
and foster local growth.
Ironically, it is often these hotel groups whose websites speak to
the ideals of community empowerment, sustainability, and contributing to
a better world. I challenge how any business model which actively works
against fostering the sustainability of local economies qualifies for
We seek triple-win scenarios while nurturing a sustainable travel
ecosystem for our guests, our partners, and the travel community. By
utilising local companies, the revenue still goes to the hotel, but the
path it takes to get there matters. In a post-pandemic recovery in
Southeast Asia where so much of regional GDPs rely on hospitality and
tourism, that matters more than ever.