Thursday, August 28, 2008

Engagement and dialogue to drive sustainable growth


Engagement and dialogue to drive sustainable growth


To prosper during these times of economic uncertainty, Thailand's luxury property developers are turning to innovative and long-term developmental activities to effectively target Thai and foreign buyers.

Rapidly rising construction material prices, increasing fuel costs and escalating inflation could threaten property investors' confidence, yet it remains important for developers to engage the wider community to help customers make wise decisions.

Lifestyle is a critical component of today's luxury property market, and upmarket buyers need to be assured that not only the project but its location fits the bill. Property developers would therefore do well to engage in activities that promote and enhance a locale's lifestyle.

Take the Chao Phraya River area, and the Thon Buri side of the river in particular, so long seen as the poor cousin of the side that boasted The Oriental, Shangri-La and Royal Orchid Sheraton hotels on its banks as well as the key business districts of the city along Silom and Sukhumvit roads.

Serious efforts are now underway to bring both sides of the river together and promote an exclusive lifestyle community on the Chao Phraya that provides customers of riverside projects with a high-end experience and specifically encourages Thais to rediscover life on the river.

To assist in this development, Les Ateliers recently organised the Bangkok River City Workshop for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, with sponsorship from Raimon Land.

The workshop focused on the valuation of the Chao Phraya River and how it could be better integrated into the metropolis. The meeting also analysed the river's economics, lifestyle opportunities, transport possibilities and its image. The river's evolution was discussed from its days as a transport route to its modern role as a vital link to the city.

Topics such as access, landscape design, water quality, and the notion of riverfront community, commercial activity and promotion were discussed by the international city-planning experts who attended the workshop. Examples of urban planning in other major cities around the world like Paris and London were also examined.

Les Ateliers is a 26-year-old global network of urban designers that holds creative workshops on urban issues and it is through such organisations that we can build a sustainable future for the city. While the workshop's content was informative, bringing industry stakeholders together was also an important achievement. Only close collaboration between the private and public sectors can chart the future course of Thailand's property industry and ensure it benefits all sectors of society and the environment.

Through an educated dialogue, the industry can establish a vision for the future and lobby for change. Our research publications this year and three discussion forums in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket have embraced this thinking.

The most recent event called "Why Invest Phuket Forum", held at the Marriott Courtyard on Surin beach in Phuket, focused on how the property industry could better cater to local and international investors and to related industries and authorities. It was attended by local government officials, association representatives and senior executives from property developers and agents

Phuket's deputy governor Smith Palawatvichai shared his opinions in an open dialogue, giving information on improving the property sector's operating environment, which in turn would provide growth for Phuket's economy and meaningful employment for its citizens. I will expand on what was said at the forum in future editions of this column.

These efforts are part of meaningful strategies to raise Thailand's profile in the international investment and lifestyle community and to support the long-term development of the property industry.

Investors are more sophisticated than ever and their demands are greater. As an industry, it is up to us to meet and exceed their expectations with high-quality products, marketing and follow-through and to continue to position Thailand as a superb investment with the world's most enviable lifestyle.

All property developers can contribute to this. There is little doubt we can produce the quality of developments that are built in other mature markets. As a group we can forward the cause of Thailand's property market by proving we can compete with other countries in terms of design and quality, and this is a message we need to communicate clearly.

Once this is done, we can grow Thailand's reputation as a country that can be trusted to deliver solid residential developments and better planned urban environments.

Nigel Cornick is Chief Executive Officer of Raimon Land Plc, Thailand's premier luxury property developer with projects in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. For more information visit

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