How Thailand Improved My DC Event Planning Skills
I like to call myself an avid traveler. I’ve been to 30 of the United States and more than 20 different countries. Each time I venture out, I discover something new and exciting that is unique to each country.
This time I have traveled to Thailand visiting Bangkok and Phuket. Being a DC Wedding and Event Planner it’s hard to remove the planning mindset when you go out to eat or to an event. I honestly am no event judge, but wearing the event planning hat for more than 10 years, I cannot help but to notice certain things.
BONUS: I list some of my favorite activities below
Wedding & Event Planning Tips I learned in Bangkok and Phuket
Be mindful of transportation
Traveling to a new state within your country has its own risks. However, those risks are heightened when you are in another country and you don’t speak the language. The level of standard is different none being right or wrong, as they are based on location.
While in Bangkok we hired a driver to take us around to go to places like the The Great Buddha of Thailand at the Wat Muang Temple. We also asked him to take us to the floating market where you could purchase everything while riding in a boat. Both had a great experience, but our driver drove extremely too fast. I fell asleep at one point but was woken up by screeching tires because our driver was taking a curve extremely too fast almost flipping us.
But it wasn’t just his fast driving that gave me pause. All of the taxis we took swerved in and out of lanes inches from the next car. Even regular drivers had the same mentality.
Another thing I found to be irritating was the constant price negotiations we had to have with taxis. When in Thailand it’s critical that you get a taxi that uses a meter. You save a couple hundred Bhat in doing this. If not, you are subject to any price the taxi states and thus the negations on price.
Don’t be fearful of using the metro system. We used the train to go downtown for our New Year’s Eve celebration. I fell in love with the fact that the train was much wider than what I have seen with DC metro. Also the train came faster, just a few minutes after the next train departing.
Why do I bring this up? If planning an event, it’s important to understand how transportation works. Many conference or concert attendees will use public transportation to get to your event. They want reliable and safe transportation that is no hassle. It’s up to you as the event host to ensure you offer them great means that doesn’t leave them jaded.
Take in the food experience
I’ll admit I have a phobia of street food. It turns my stomach just to see hot dogs or any kind of meat being prepared from a cart on the street. I think of sanitation. I think of me getting sick. Everything runs through my mind and it has nothing to do with what country I’m in.
In Bangkok we ventured to Chinatown and I had the best duck in a long time. MIND BLOWN, but still cautious. Many times you as a guest are use to food being brought to your table by a server. You might be use to taking your time to eat and relaxing until you are ready to go. Don’t expect all of that at every location.
In Chinatown it was a eat and leave type of situation. We weren’t rushed, but the long line of people watching everyone eat, let us know that other people are waiting to eat too. Almost every street vendor had a line of people, but we didn’t have to wait long to be seated. Honestly it was really fun for me.
While in Phuket I had a different experience as we stayed at the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Naiver Yang Beach. This was more on the fine dinning side unlike the street vendors in Chinatown. The first night I enjoyed my meal, however, one of my friends did not.
Typically when you go to a restaurant and you have bad service or if something wasn’t cooked to your liking, they would simply take it off the bill. I hate this process for bad service as that does not correct the bad service. No, Marriott did not provide bad service.
What Marriott did next shocked the hell out of me.
The Chef personally came to our table to understand what went wrong. To fix it, he asked us to be his guests the next night and to sit at the best table in his restaurant. He asked if he could make a few traditional meals for us and we agreed. We arrived and from start to finish the service was spectacular like the night before and the food OMG, I cannot describe how good it was.
To me, that is how you satisfy a customer.
Why do I bring this up? Many people enjoy and experience things differently. If you are the type that likes to take your time to eat, Chinatown street vendors might not be your cup of tea, but it doesn’t mean others won’t. I believe it’s important to give your guests different experiences even if they have never tried it before. It’s time to stop giving your guests the same thing at every single event or wedding.
Everything Is up For Negotiation
Thankfully I had a chance to indulge in some retail therapy. We embarked on the Chatuchak Weekend Market which was both dizzying and gratifying. I love knowing where I’m going to ensure I maximize my time. Unfortunately, being at the weekend market, it was simply too big to even try and navigate with a plan.
After a couple of tries, I just let go of the thought that I would know where to go and just went. Thankfully that landed me near some really great shops. I purchased a Oreo MacBook case, a paper-bag book bag, a new accent piece and most importantly a new chandelier for my dinning room.
In each of these purchases I engaged in negotiating the price to what I thought was within my budget. The chandelier purchase took me almost an hour to negotiate, make a decision and then find out how I’d get it back home.
Why do I bring this up? When planning your wedding or event, it’s important to see if you have room to negotiate. Sometimes the price is set and there is no wiggle room. Other times you may have a vendor or venue that is willing to negotiate a price.
One thing to remember is that negotiation is not guaranteed and you are not entitled to a lower price.
Traveling Allows Me To Better Cater To My Clients
No client has ever been the same for me. All clients come with unique traditions and backgrounds. Being a DC Event and Wedding Planner, I want to ensure I am aware of traditions before my clients book me. I find it more of an advantage to be a step ahead than to try and study the traditions of my clients when they arrive. Clients want to know that you know what they need. For me that means understanding various types of cultures and their traditions.
Why do I bring this up? Being in Thailand I have learned a lot about their religion and how that impacts their lives. Aside from my trip here, I have learned so much from other destinations that further enhances my services to my clients.
BONUS: THINGS TO DO WHILE IN THAILAND
Here are a few things to do while in Bangkok and Phuket that I enjoyed:
1 - Visit Chinatown in Bangkok. Really impressive corridor full of street vendors and shops.
2 - Visit Wat Pho in the old city. This is more of your historical activity, but trust me it’s worth it.
3 - The Chatuchak Weekend Market by far was one of my favorite places to go.
4 - Khao San Road was fun as well as it’s a mix of outdoor eating, bars, entertainment and shopping. I recommend going at night as the day time can be a bit boring.
5 - The towering Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin of Wat Muang although being repainted is a must see. While I loved the statue, I enjoyed the other history near it. There is a temple, tons of outdoor sculptures and food vendors. Note that this is outside of Bangkok and is an hour and forty-five minute drive there. I recommend hiring a driver that will stay there to wait on you.
6 - Go to Central World and Siam Paragon. Central work is the biggest mall in Bangkok and one of the largest in the world. While I didn’t have a ton of time to spend at the mall, I can say there are tons of activities this complex has. From indoor ice skating to an arcade this complex. You can also visit the smaller shopping centers that has some high-end stores.
7 - Get a Thai Massage. You can find a message shop at many of the popular locations in Thailand. I saw many outdoor locations and more private locations throughout the city. Don’t be afraid of getting a message next to a total stranger.
8 - Phi Phi Island is all the craze it seems. Worth checking out just for a day.
9 - I went to Patong Beach at night and I must say if you want to party this is the place to be in Phuket. I don’t recommend booking a room as it gets too loud if you want to sleep. This is about an hour from the airport.
10 - Don’t be afraid og the animal santuaries. Plenty of elephants to ride and tigers to pet if you’re brave enough.
Traveling is truly an incredible opportunity for so many reasons. For me, it not only helps my cultural experience, but it ensures I see the world from a different perspective. In the end I can only be a better person when I’m looking through a lens outside of my neighborhood or group of friends. I strongly encourage you to take a trip outside of your country and see what new things you learn.