What to expect in Thailand – one of the jewels of Southeast Asia

As the 2023 FIDI Conference heads for Bangkok in March, Eric Lim, of FIDI Asia, gives us the lowdown on the country and the highlights of its bustling capital city

Overall, the moving industry in Asia is fairly healthy considering the overall uncertainty that prevails in the wider global economy. Volumes are generally up on last year, with customer demand for relocation high – the global shipping crisis has eased a bit, too. The mood in the business seems to be improving, which is a good sign, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

COVID upheaval

Of course, COVID has had the biggest impact of all the challenges of the past two years. The pandemic caused many clients to consider a move back to their home country sooner than they would otherwise have done.

In addition, the industry has had to contend with the crisis in global container shipping. The enormous price increases across the board have shocked the market and caused an acute shortage of containers at any price. We are still facing container shortages to certain key markets, making it more difficult to satisfy customers’ expectations. There have also been critical bottlenecks at major ports such as Long Beach (California), Felixstowe (UK) and Amsterdam. It’s been a difficult two years.

There remains great uncertainty about the world economy, especially with rising inflation and interest rates. In the longer term, we face labour shortages, material cost inflation, and changing attitudes towards international assignments, and even changes brought about by working from home.

Asian challenges

The major challenges in Greater China (Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong) have been the very strict ‘zero COVID’ measures implemented against the spread of COVID. These caused many employees to reconsider where they want to live and many to decide to move closer to their home countries. The rest of Asia has taken a less drastic approach to COVID – so the impact on operations has been less severe.

Companies across Asia had their own packers, but many resorted to layoffs as they could not carry out moves. I know many businesses laid off operational and administrative staff to cut costs and stay afloat. At the same time, cost increases in materials, transport, and other items required changes in the way movers operate their businesses.

The uncertainty of COVID is a concern for us going forward. Will it stay with us for good? Will it disappear completely? Or will there be something in the middle? We have no idea what corporate customer policies will emerge, while new technologies and work structures are impacting the moving business. We are still finding out exactly what those effects will be. Movers have had to become lean and agile to survive.

The 2023 FIDI Conference

I was delighted when Jesse van Sas called me to say that FlDl would like to come to Asia in 2O23. FlDl was planning to go to Osaka in 2020 – which would have been a great conference and the first we had held in Japan – but was prevented from doing so by COVID restrictions.

FlDl did an exhaustive search for the best alternative location and all arrows pointed to Bangkok, which I think is an excellent choice. Thailand is a wonderful destination for a conference like this. FIDI has chosen a fabulous hotel, conveniently located, and with easy access to world famous Thai cuisine. It has a vibrant and interesting culture, while great shopping puts the city at the top of many lists of tourist hot spots.

The conference coincides with the country opening up once again to tourists and Bangkok boasts excellent airline hub connectivity with the rest of the world, so it will be easy for delegates to get in and out. While you are in the area, do make time to visit other major centres like Singapore (my hometown), Hong Kong, Malaysia, China, Japan – there are so many good choices.

Thailand is a Buddhist country, and its people respect nature as a way of life. Affiliates will find its people carefree and friendly.

Conference attendees will be free to explore this gem of a country with a population of 70 million.

While you’re there, don’t miss the famous street food, visit the thousands of shops selling souvenirs. Try a famous Thai massage, take a Thai cooking class, play a round of golf in a beautiful setting, and catch a Muay Thai boxing match. If you still have energy, visit the famous floating market, Bangkok’s own Chinatown and the famous Chatuchak night market. There is so much to do, so plan well ahead.

Thai baht is freely convertible and has weakened against the US dollar lately so your money will go even further – and bring plenty of it, because the shopping is legendary!

The end of March is a great time to visit Thailand – and you can expect hot and humid, tropical weather. Shorts, T-shirts and flip flops are the order of the day. Thailand is a very safe country and walking to most places is quite safe, but of course always use caution.

As usual, this conference will offer unmatched opportunities to network with fellow FIDI Affiliates. It will help illustrate first-hand the dynamic and fast-growing economies of Southeast Asia and give you the unmissable chance to see the country and its people.

On day two of the conference on March 27, FlDl Asia will host a gala evening with food, drink, music and culture. All attendees are welcome, and we promise an evening that you will not forget.

As we continue to climb out of the hole COVID put us in, the FIDI conference in Thailand is a perfect opportunity to re-establish old ties, explore new ones, compare notes on the latest developments, and enjoy the wonderful hospitality that Thailand is so famous for.

We can’t wait to see you!

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