Synergy Sports & Leisure Solutions is a recreational consultancy based in Thailand offering consultancy, management, promotion and event services to the global sports, leisure, hospitality and education industries.
Here Breaking Travel News catches up with chief executive Sean Panton to see how sports tourism is growing into one of the most innovative sectors of the global industry today.
Breaking Travel News: Events – such as the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa, London 2012 Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand – have illustrated the importance of sports tourism to the global tourism market.
How do you see this trend developing over the mid-term?
Sean Panton: Asia is positioned perfectly to capitalise on these kind of events, with the economies still vibrant and the commitment of the region to develop these sectors and host an array of sporting and green tourism events.
With the signing of the Miracle Thailand initiative between the Sports Authority of Thailand, Travel Association of Thailand and the Thailand Convention & Exhibitions Bureau this will specifically target sports tourism in the next few years.
The Thanyapura Sports & Leisure Club is strategically positioned to capitalise on this initiative and the fact that the infrastructure here is well suited to sport tourism, good facilities, better value and better year round weather for training.
The investment for our property is considerable and we are confident we will become the hub for regional and national sports events and trainings, we are already attracting the best in their fields for training such as the national Canadian swim team, world triathlon champion Jurgen Zack and a host of other professional athletes, we have also just hosted two ITF men’s tennis events for the first time in Phuket’s history.
The club brings a new level of sports facilities and expertise to the region, teams and players no longer have to travel to Europe or America to receive world class training facilities and coaching, they just have to skip down to Phuket where we have it all on offer here, even a dedicated sports hotel and mind centre.
BTN: How about in Thailand more specifically? The Thanyapura Group, through subsidiary Synergy Sports & Leisure Solutions, has just invested £80 million in what many consider to be the most up to date sports facility in Thailand.
Could you talk us through what is on offer there? Who do you expect to use the facilities?
SP: We have a host of target markets, our sales strategy is drawn up around the fact lots of teams and touring professionals have to play large scale events in Asia and Australia therefore we are a perfect choice for either off season training or stop of on the way to their final locations.
Universities, schools, private teams and professional clubs and players are all in our sights and the feedback we have received so from our clients is remarkable.
We have a six court Tennis Academy with four covered courts and Plexi Cushion surface (the same as the Australian Open). Our Recreational Tennis program is directed by Peter Burwash international the World Leading Tennis Management Company.
Swimming Academy has a 50m and a 25m pools with timing systems and dedicated locker rooms. Football & Rugby Academies boast a full size flood lit Test Standard Limonta Pro Artificial Grass Pitch and Stadium for 2,000 fans.
Triathlon Academy has a dedicated 500m running track, Techno Gym Cardio and Strength rooms and even a Hypoxy training room. Combined with a host of recreational facilities, local membership and local CSR based activities these core programs drive the engine that keeps the club alive.
Global, regional, national and local sports persons are our main target market.
With an emphasis on the holistic approach we also have an organic farm and restaurant so that all of our athletes and visitors have the opportunity to experience our healthy home grown food offerings.
BTN: You are also behind the Thanyapura Mind Center and Holistic Concept Learning & Recreational Centre? Where do these developments fit into the scheme?
Sp: I helped design plan the facility and opened it, yes.
The whole property is divided into three integral parts; all three components complement each other through their natural synergy.
Phuket International Day School offering an International Baccalaureate Certification as an IB World School caters for the mind, The Thanyapura Mind Center which is at the cutting edge of research on developing emotional intelligence and cultivating emotional balance and contemplative practices with the world’s leading expert in these fields in residence, Dr Alan Wallace, this component caters for the spirit in us all.
The Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club has strong recreational foundation with kids clubs, activities programs and a host of offerings to bring the local Phuket community together offering the body component of overall Holistic education focus, the key driver of our overall vision and mission.
The Sports Emotional Inventory is a powerful Psychometric Tool that offers us the unique ability to be able to test a player’s emotional intelligence and offer them coaching to improve specific areas that can improve performance considerably.
BTN: Have the Thai authorities been supportive of your efforts? I believe you are partnered with the Sports Authority of Thailand, Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Sports and Tourism?
SP: The Thai Government have been hugely supportive of our efforts to bring sports and green tourism to Phuket and Thailand.
The club considerably adds to their portfolio and the relationship with them is essential to the success of the club.
Synergy is partners with the SAT and TAT to help develop the Sport and Green tourism market with the focus on Phuket.
Delegations from the relevant government agencies and their host of contacts help with endorsements and are essential to our long term success. Sponsors of events have been key and will also play an integral part of the overall success of the clubs future offering attractive opportunities to a variety of different sponsors and partners.
BTN: Synergy has also developed a corporate social responsibility program called SEEK Save Phuket – can you explain a little of what that is about?
SP: As Synergy managing director I attended an AtKisson Group Sustainability training workshop six months ago and was inspired to start SEEK Phuket, an non-profit coalition linking the Government, Commercial and NGOs up to develop a sustainability plan for the island.
This platform as been hugely successful and we will be meeting in January to develop the necessary indicators for this initiative with the relevant stakeholders.
Then every August SEEK Phuket will host an annual SEEK Forum & Expo, Eco Arts Fair and Awards weekend where we gather the community for learning and to celebrate the good work done over the past year.
Due to the shift in tourism trends and the new found awareness of travellers Synergy has developed some key partnerships with NGO groups such as the IUCN (International Union Conservation of Nature) to promote and develop sustainable tourism, combined with Emotions Capital and Leadership training Synergy is positioned to help Phuket and offer some unique and meaningful programs to support the island long term.
BTN: How are you advertising these services? Has the reaction largely been positive?
SP: We have been very well received and look forward to a positive organic growth.