Playing the Thailand Game
How a TAT Social Media Initiative is Promoting Thailand Across the World
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) relentless in its efforts to promote Thailand as one of the world’s premier tourist destination has introduced an innovative new weapon in its marketing offensive – online gaming. The games have been released to be played on Facebook in a move to introduce some of the website 600 million users worldwide to Thailand. The games will also be available as smart phone apps so the growing number of users of the latest mobile phones can play on the move and with friends in a social setting.
Currently there are two games available with three more in the development pipeline. The most popular is ‘Tuk Tuk Racing’ which introduces players to the iconic Thai three-wheeled vehicle. Player must vie to see who is fastest to complete a racing circuit strewn with obstacles and hazards. Basic gameplay is simple but it takes practise to become a tuk tuk master. The game can be played online or downloaded as a smartphone application for the iPhone, Blackberry or Android devices.
The second game is based on the international popularity of Thai cuisine and is called ‘Somtam Sukjai’ after the iconic papaya salad. Players assume the role of the chef, Sukjai who must prepare one of Thailand’s favourite dishes in accordance with his customer’s orders as quickly as he can. If he gets it right he is rewarded a cash bonus but mess it up and the customers become angry and leave leaving his business in trouble. ‘Somtam Sukjai’ is designed solely for users of Apple products, the iPad, iPod or iPhone and can be downloaded from the Apple app store.
The latest game which will be released at the end of June is ‘Smile Land’ in recognition of Thailand’s worldwide reputation as the “Land of Smiles’. It is expected to become equally popular and attract introduce people around the world to another unique selling point that makes Thailand such a popular international vacation destination.
Mr Suraphon Svetasreni, the Govenor of TAT, is excited by the project and believes the use of social media is a powerful way to promote the country. ‘TAT has initiated an active digital marketing strategy in order to promote and strengthen the image and positioning of Thailand’s tourism industry’ he said recently, ‘digital is the new media to reach the Internet and smartphone users, all of whom are well-educated with high income levels.’
He lauded his organisation success in reaching people via the internet pointing out that over 200,000 Facebook users are followers of Amazing Thailand and the Twitter@ThailandFanClub was growing every day. In December 2010, the organisation began promoting the ‘Amazing Thailand Mobile Application’ which is available for smartphone uses and received over twenty million hits in the first few months online. The application has already attracted over 200,000 downloads.
Social media use is also growing among Thais as the country experiences a rapid rise in the number of people who use the internet and other modern technology for information and leisure. The Twitter @Go2Thailand account is specifically to help Thai people get the best out of enjoying the beauty of their country. Certainly when they play TAT’s games one would expect that they are all champion somtam chefs!