A Thai membership card scheme’s whopping $57,000 membership fee has proven a tough sell in Cambodia, even among the Kingdom’s free-spending, status-loving elites.
The Thailand Elite Privilege Card, an exclusive membership card program operated by a subsidiary of Thailand’s tourism authority, launched a sales drive in Cambodia last April after signing an agreement with local firm WorldBridge International Co Ltd to promote its membership card in the Kingdom. The company said at the time it expected to gain at least 60 new Cambodian members a year. Yet only three Cambodians joined the card program last year.
Sear Rithy, chairman of WorldBridge International, dismissed the idea that Cambodia was short on elites able to afford the privilege card, whose benefits are only available to those visiting Thailand. Instead he said the marketing campaign just needed a little more time to gather steam.
“We are now still marketing, and there are a lot of rich people interested in these cards as it offers a lot of benefits to them,” he said yesterday. “Sales in the Cambodian market are starting to take off, but first we need to ensure that our clients understand the benefits.”
The Thailand Elite card is based on a multi-tier platform. Limited entry-level membership starts at about $14,000 and is valid for five years. Full membership costs nearly $57,000 plus tax and annual fees, and is valid for 20 years.
Membership privileges include fast-track visa and border services, as well as discounts on golf courses, spas, hotels, restaurants clubs and medical facilities throughout Thailand.
In total, according to company sources, 12 Cambodians have purchased Thai Elite card memberships, with another half a dozen okhnas mulling their options.
Pruet Boobphakam, president of Thailand Privilege Card, said he remained confident that WorldBridge would deliver on sales and introduce the company’s new products to the local market, including four new membership platforms unveiled last August in order to broaden the card’s appeal.
“Cambodia is a potential market for us, and we can see demand rising, though it is not as strong as other [markets],” he said. “We are expecting tremendous growth in Cambodia... and while Cambodian members can enjoy privileges like others, nevertheless, our privileges [need] to be improved to meet members’ expectations.”