The Nation



Political instability hits Impact Muang Thong Thani

Loy Joon How, general manager of Impact Exhibition Management.

Loy Joon How, general manager of Impact Exhibition Management.

Impact Muang Thong Thani is a business victim of the disturbances in Bangkok.

"There are some events that were supposed to take place in the third quarter that were postponed to the fourth quarter. This leads to opportunity losses and our frequency will suffer," Loy Joon How, general manager of Impact Exhibition Management Co, told The Nation last week.

Political instability has a direct bearing on the industry, he said.

The company had expected to host 800 events, comprising exhibitions, conferences and meetings, and to attract about 15 million visitors, exhibitors and delegates this year. That is 4-5 per cent higher than last year.

Thailand's exhibition business is about 70 per cent domestic and 30 per cent international.

"Like the exhibition industry in Thailand, we (Impact) are dominated by domestic exhibitors. Our exhibition growth is tied up with GDP growth of the country," he said.

Impact is the largest exhibition centre in Southeast Asia with 140,000 square metres of indoor space. It is the third largest in the world behind the venues in China's Shanghai and Guangzhou cities.

"Thailand has a big domestic market already. The coming of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), together with the opening up of the Asean market in 2015, will result in an increase in business activities among Asean countries and will drive the growth of MICE activities in the region," he said.

"Our business is to support those activities. The only challenge is that we need to compete with other Asean countries. We need to be sharper to attract more MICE events to Thailand," he said.

Domestic consumption would also grow along with the AEC due to more goods flowing into Thailand.

Impact is not just a venue, but also an exhibition organiser. About 80 per cent of its revenue is from space rentals and 20 per cent from organising exhibitions and events for various businesses - such as construction, engineering, green building, facility management and agriculture - in collaboration with partners and other organisers.

"We have increased exhibitions organised by ourselves from only one six years ago to about 15 this year. We also expect to double the size of our own exhibitions in five years," he said.

In the past six years, the company has developed its human resources with both skills and knowledge of how to provide services at an international standard. This is to prepare for the coming open market and highly competitive environment when the AEC is effective in 2015.

"We need to become customer-oriented and organise our operation around customers' needs. We have cultivated our new corporate culture called 'partnership for success' by delivering high value to our customers beyond their expectations.

"We are considerably looking for new products and services and aspire to provide a one-stop solution to our customers, such as in logistics and operation management. We are capitalising on this strength to attract more events to Impact, particularly international events," he said.

The company needs to build up its capacity in exhibition facilities and space to accommodate the growth of existing shows.

Impact's arena and exhibition and convention centre run at 62-per-cent occupancy, which is recognised as a good rate.

Kasikorn Asset Management, the first firm to be granted a trustee licence for real estate investment trusts, said it is getting ready to proceed with the Bt20 billion Impact Growth REIT. The proceeds will be used to finance the company's next expansion phase at Muang Thong Thani, including a shopping mall, exhibition centre and hotel.

The REIT is expected to be launched next quarter after the Securities and Exchange Commission irons out tax issues and gives it the green light.

Chongrak Rattanapian, executive chairman of KAsset, said the house obtained a licence from the SEC on September 18 to act as a trustee for the REIT fund.

REITs will replace real estate mutual funds, which will no longer be offered after this year. The advantage of REITs is a wider range of properties, including international real estate and projects still pending.

After establishing the fund, KAsset hopes to serve as a trustee for the Impact Growth REIT.

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