So Thai Spa has established a luxury spa in Bangkok as part of an unusual reverse international expansion strategy. Despite being majority Thai owned and Thai managed, So Thai Spa started life as a spa in London (UK) but earlier this year added a second branch in Bangkok (Thailand).
So Thai Spa Director, Siratikarn Lohasarn, explained the motivation for the growth into Thailand as follows: “We have enjoyed the challenge of bringing authentic Thai massage to the London market and now want to use our experiences of managing a spa in the London market to bring a fusion spa concept to Bangkok, combining the best elements of the spa industries of the East and West.” Underlying So Thai Spa’s move into the Bangkok spa market is a belief that there is a shortage of local spas that are delivering services that meet the expectations of international clientele. As as example, Siratikarn explained, “Many spas in Bangkok are overly focused on traditional Thai massage performed using a mat on the floor and without oil, where as most international spa goers actually prefer their massage to be performed with oil and generally they would rather be treated on a massage table.”
Although the Bangkok spa market is already well supplied, So Thai Spa expects to find a space in the market by offering a luxury spa experience at reasonable prices. The best deals available are for their various spa packages whereby, for example, a body massage can be combined with a foot massage, a body scrub and a facial. Siratikarn sees this an untapped corner of the market as “there are many massage shops all around Bangkok offering cheap massage sessions, but the establishments that offer a more well-rounded spa experience with packages of multiples treatments combined are generally charging very high prices, where as we will deliver these spa packages at a more competitive price point.”
Regardless of the pricing strategy, the property in which the spa is housed should be enough to attract customers, with beautiful mature gardens all around the detached villa and large treatments rooms with en-suite toilets and showers. So Thai Spa sees this, as well as their commitment to hiring only the most qualified and experienced staff, more as being ways to offer customers’ the best possible experience, and hence to build a strong reputation for excellence. Siratikarn elaborated: “In London, we have gained a reputation for offering an attractive proposition allowing us to develop a solid base of loyal customers, which will serve us much better in the medium to long term than trying to maximising the profit from every customer who walks through the door. We hope a similar approach with our Bangkok spa, will lead to comparable success.”
Whether So Thai Spa Bangkok will indeed prove to be as popular and successful as So Thai Spa London will only become clear in time but early signs are encouraging, with the business approaching full capacity, and much positive feedback from customers posted online via various travel and spa focused review sites.